Nazi Goreng by Marco Ferrarese
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Nazi Goreng starts off pretty mildly with Asrul, the naive young Malay from Alor Setar, first meeting the neo-Nazi skinhead, Malik, after he gets beaten up by a gang of Indians. In fact, the first part of the book is generally benign and frankly a little slow, as Asrul and Malik move from the backwaters of Kedah to the bigger city of Penang.
Things begin to pick up when Malik gets them involved with the Iranian drug dealer, Mr Porthaksh, then quickly spiral out of control. From petty acts of ethnic violence, Asrul soon finds himself involved in more dangerous situations, such as gun-toting Nigerians and a Chinese triad, Sio Sam Ong.
Marco Ferrarese introduces me to a Penang I hardly recognise, although I've lived here almost all my life. I don't deny that these things do happen - and maybe this book is a way to build awareness of the tensions that I live so blithely unaware of, for the sole reason that I avoid these places in the dark. It seems as if the city has a different night life from what I think - if, in fact, these are based on true facts.
I suppose my dislike of this book mainly stems from the copious amounts of sex and swearing. He drops variants of the f-word as if it were candy, allowing it to pepper most of the dialogue, and often uses c*** or b**** to describe women. I obviously don't move in the same circles as Ferrarese does; the dialogue he writes doesn't seem real to me.
Overall, the language Ferrarese uses to describe women, mainly through Malik, are extremely derogatory, and he tries often to disabuse Asrul of his "naive" view of women. These are then proven true when the two women that Asrul actually interacts with end up having sex with him for the sole reason of gaining his trust to use and/or trick him. In fact, of the four main women characterised in the book, two sleep with Asrul to take advantage of him, and the other two are forced to perform oral sex on corrupt policemen whilst their immigrant boyfriends are being thrown off a cliff. I'm not sure what view Ferrarese has of women, but from this book, it seems rather bleak.
Marco Ferrarese has his moments - the story is compelling and intricate enough to make you want to continue reading, which is why I'm leaving this as a two-star story, even if I personally did not really like it. Perhaps part of the reason this book seems unbelievable to me is the rose-tinted glasses I view Penang with. I know it's not perfect and definitely no utopia, but I would rather live with a biased view of the peaceful and gracious people that the Malays are (except maybe some politicians) than to think of them as these foul-mouthed, irrational, sex-obssessed thugs that Ferrarese makes them out to be.
View all my reviews