Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

A Ohio University Press Book

The Memoir of a Chinese Indonesian Family in the Twentieth Century

By Stuart Pearson

“In an unadorned manner Sudibyo depicts the personal and social interactions between the Dutch, the Chinese and the indigenous Indonesians, revealing political boundaries as well as underlying values. Her detailed portrayal of the lives of various family members and the day-to-day happenings in the places where her parents did business gives invaluable insight into that part of society and how it lived at that time.... An Sudibyo comes across as totally human, and more importantly, very real.... A delightful book to read for historical knowledge as well as entertainment.”

The Jakarta Post

Millions of Chinese have left the mainland over the last two centuries in search of new beginnings. The majority went to Southeast Asia, and the single largest destination was the colony of the Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia. Wherever the Chinese landed they prospered, but in Indonesia, even though some families made fortunes, they never felt they quite belonged.

BitterSweet is the account of one Chinese-Indonesian family whose story stretches over the generations as their fortunes waxed and waned through revolution, riots, war, depression, occupation, and finally emigration to yet another country—Australia.

BitterSweet offers a unique insight into a world rarely seen before. An Sudibjo’s memoir, written from a woman’s perspective, is a valuable resource for anyone studying Indonesian history or the Chinese Diaspora.

An Utari Sudibjo (b. 1912) was a fifth-generation Chinese resident of the Netherlands East Indies. In 1967, after a distinguished career as a senior civil servant in the Dutch colonial and then the Indonesian Education Department, she and her husband emigrated to Australia where they operated a restaurant for the next 30 years. She lives in a nursing home in Sydney, aged 95.

Stuart Pearson is the son-in-law of An Sudibjo, the subject of BitterSweet. He has worked in law enforcement, education, business management and consultancy. He began working on An's biography in 2003 and is now writing other works in history.   More info →

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In Series

Research in International Studies, Southeast Asia Series, № 117


Retail price: $32.95, S.
Release date: October 2008
352 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: Americas

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