Minke is a young Javanese student of great intelligence, sensitivity and ambition. Living equally among the colonists and colonized of late nineteenth-century Java, he battles against the confines of colonial strictures. The son of a noble Javanese, he moves easily among the Dutch and their ideas and language but is prevented from enjoying their rights. He also falls desperately in love with the beautiful Indo-European Annelies, and it is through her and her extraordinary family that Minke finds the strength to embrace his world - the world of Indonesia - and all its beauty and possibility, brutality and anger. This remarkable tale, the first in the Buru Quartet, was originally recited orally by Indonesian political prisoner Pramoedya Ananta Toer to his fellow cellmates in daily installments.