'A literary child of Gabriel García Marquez and Salman Rushdie.' New York Review of Books Indonesian epic Beauty is a Wound, from Man Booker International nominee Eka Kurniawan is out now. We're obsessed with this book at Pushkin HQ, it's a colourful, political and fantastical masterpiece spanning a century of Indonesia's painful past. The stunning cover was created by acclaimed designer Nathan Burton, and we caught up with him to discuss the process of designing a jacket for this sprawling and beautiful book. What was your initial inspiration for the cover of Beauty is a Wound?
In the cover brief I was asked to represent the main character, Dewi Ayu in some way, as she is so integral to the story. I started by looking at traditional Indonesian folk art, not for any specific image but in the hope that it would spark some initial ideas. I found some very beautiful shadow puppets and paintings and I wanted to try a very graphic interpretation of these. I sent an early rough to Pushkin but it was thought that this approach was a bit too cold for this rich, historical novel so I needed to give it some more thought.
In what ways did you reflect the book’s Indonesian roots in your cover design?
One of the main ways I reflected Indonesia is in Dewi Ayu’s clothing. I had sent over an earlier version with a woman in generic eastern dress that Eka (the author) thought looked like a Chinese style dress so he pointed me in the direction of a traditional Javanese dress called a kebaya. I love finding out these little facts along the way.
How far did your initial draft differ from the final cover?
The cover went through a few versions before it was approved. The publisher liked the direction it was going after the second attempt, which is always reassuring, so it was a case of trying to make all the elements work together. There was a bit of back and forth with Pushkin and the author to hone the details to make sure we had an accurate representation of Dewi.
Want to know more about this glorious book? Click here.