The Redundancy of Courage
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The Redundancy of Courage is a novel by Timothy Mo published in 1991. It is set in the fictitious country of Danu in Southeast Asia, which is based on East Timor, and is narrated by Adolph Ng, an ethnic Chinese businessman educated in Canada.
Like East Timor, Danu is a Portuguese colony, invaded and occupied by its giant neighbour, which is not named, but is based on Indonesia. The people of the occupying country are referred to throughout the book as the malai, similar to 'malae' the word for foreigner in Tetum, East Timor's national language. Danu is annexed by the malai and declared their 'fifty-eighth province', over which their green and white flag is raised. (Indonesia declared East Timor its 'twenty-seventh province', and its flag is red and white. In any case, by part three of the novel Mo's description of the malai flag has changed to red and white too (chapter 25))
Allusions/references to actual history and geography
Although the characters are fictional, they are closely based on people involved in events in East Timor during 1975. They include Xavier Ray 'X Ray' Xaneiros, based on resistance leader Xanana Gusmão (from 2002—07 the country's President), Joaquim Lobato, based on exiled leader José Ramos-Horta (later Foreign Minister, Prime Minister and now President), and Bill Mabbely, based on Australian journalist Roger East, who was killed by Indonesian troops in Dili on the day of the invasion. The date of the malai invasion of Danu, December 7, is the same as that of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor.
Similarly, the nationalist party FAKOUM is based on FRETILIN, the FAKINTIL guerrilla army is based on Falintil, and the Amalgamationists are based on APODETI, the only party to advocate East Timor's integration with Indonesia. The malai island based on the Indonesian island of Bali is called Dili, the same name as the capital of East Timor, but the town of Balibo exists, and the killing of the Australian journalists is also depicted in the novel.
The city of Bacalhau (which takes its name from the Portuguese word for cod), is based on Baucau, East Timor's second largest city, while the name of the malai General Rebus, is taken from the Indonesian word for 'boiled' - mi rebus being boiled noodles.
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