Iban Woman by Golda Mowe
Author: Golda Mowe
Publisher: Monsoon Books
Year of Issue: 2018
Twenty-year-old Ratai is proud and strong for she is the eldest child of Nuing, the Iban warrior who went to the invisible world and returned alive, and the granddaughter of Bujang Maias, the great headhunter who was raised by apes. Despite her pedigree, however, she is frustrated and confused. Although a more successful hunter than the men her age she has still not managed to master the weave necessary to prove her feminine skills and win a man’s heart.
After a bad omen befalls her longhouse, Ratai feels compelled to join a war party to take enemy heads and save her people. The longhouse is against her joining the headhunting expedition but Ratai is stubborn because she has been adopted by Kumang, the goddess of the weave and the patroness of headhunters. Ratai must overcome deadly tasks, both in the forests of Borneo and in the Iban dream world, and she must find a balance between her desire to be the perfect Iban woman and her lust for adventure.
'Iban Woman' is the third in the 'Iban Dream' series of standalone novels by Golda Mowe, the most prolific Iban novelist in English of her generation and a descendant of the erstwhile headhunters of Borneo. In this her latest book, readers are once again immersed in Iban culture, learning the art of the weave, how to interpret omens in nature and how to hunt for animals … and human heads.
“This is exactly the book I’ve been waiting for – a fantasy novel that draws on the legends of our land. The author, who is of Iban and Melanau descent, was inspired by the tales she heard as a child in Sarawak and this exciting story draws on Iban mythology as well as the old ways of life that have all but disappeared. I look forward to more from Mowe and hope she will inspire other Malaysian writers to mine our local mythology for stories.” — Daphne Lee, The Star, Malaysia
Born and raised in Sarawak on the island of Borneo to an Iban mother and Melanau father, Golda Mowe has always been interested in the culture and traditions of Borneo’s indigenous people. After graduating from university in Japan and enduring ten years of corporate life, the author found herself yearning for childhood evenings spent in the longhouse, sitting in a pool of lamplight, listening to her great-aunt tell tales of jungle animals or her father recount his hunting adventures. In this way she was led back to writing and is now living in Sibu, a town on the Rejang River in Sarawak, where she expends large portions of her time researching ideas for books and short stories.