- Handbook for the Displaced
When Robin Block’s grandparents came to the Netherlands after Indonesian independence, they were met with a cold welcome that no integration booklet could match. Because how do you make a new country your home?
Block, balancing between different cultures and nationalities, mirrors his own search for identity to that of his grandparents. During his journey to modern Indonesia, 400 years of colonial history come to life through the voices of and encounters with various characters. There is the idiosyncratic Javanese primal mother who is constantly at odds with her aloof European ancestor, a young Jakartan influencer who literally carries her secrets on her body and a whimsical guide who connects the underworld and the spirit world.
With rich images and subtle humor, this collection of poems reads like an intimate and compelling travel story, in which Block connects the deeply personal with a larger history. It is a poetic search for Block’s family roots in Indonesia, and a reflection on the complexities of identity and belonging.