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Father Paul Budi Kleden:

Men and Pasola, women and weaving. Those are the two images Maria Matildis Banda uses to present Sumba’s traditional society. Pasola, a competition to test horsemanship, aims to strengthen friendship and harmony. Weaving, in a woman’s world, reflects the deep philosophy of people who hold fast to the traditional belief that everything is part of a great weave. Nothing stands alone — one event is connected to another to form a long and complex whole. Humans and nature are woven together as well. We must continue to weave a new future characterized by cooperation and mutual respect between women and men, who are sensitive to the signs of nature and care for the environment. Like her previous novels, Pasola reveals Banda’s sensitivity in depicting nature and cultural richness, amidst the upheaval of human feelings and thoughts. The conversations, written in East Nusa Tenggara-style Indonesian, transports the reader into the traditional houses of East Nusa Tenggara.


Dr. Brian Roberts — Brigham Young University — Provo, Utah:

Set on the island of Sumba and revolving around the annual festivals of pasola and bau nyale, Pasola is a beguiling family saga involving nearly five decades, four generations, and a set of genealogies and traditions among kith and kin that are mapped and honored even as they are sabotaged and derided. The novel intricately plots the fortunes of its human characters midway between the inscrutable designs of nature, the will of a God whose eyes and ears take in the breadth of the world, and humans’ capacity for dignity, lust, betrayal, courage, and redemption. Its vision soars like the high-pitched roof of a Sumbanese ancestral house.


H. Anna van Rheeden — Havana Horses — Salatiga, Central Java:

Set on the island of Sumba, where inhabitants live with their horses, Pasola unfolds between 1934 and 1980. This tremendously intriguing story introduces us to many cultural traditions. Banda’s descriptive writing style and dialogue eases the reader into the story’s framework, while the exotic setting awakens curiosity.
As a horse trainer, I was interested in the interactions between riders and their horses, and the ins and outs of Sumbanese horse training.
Pasola is about relationships between people and between people and their horses. Pasola is enlightening, gripping, astonishing, and sometimes extremely funny!


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