Where are all the Indonesian writers?

Media Clippings


This article mentions Dee Lestari Eka Kurniawan John H. McGlynn Leila S. Chudori Mochtar Lubis Putu Oka Sukanta
Written by Pamela Allen
Originally published in National Centre for Writing.
Feb 22, 2019


While it is now generally unfashionable to speak of a literary “canon,” when a translator comes to selecting works for translation into another language, that process inevitably involves making judgements about what is good literature and writing, which often then leads to the kind of ranking that is the basis of canon-making. It is a process that was faced by Lontar, the Jakarta-based foundation and publishing house, when, in the Modern Library of Indonesia project headed up by John McGlynn, it set itself the goal of both “preserving nearly-forgotten classics of Indonesian literature” and presenting them, often for the first time in English, to an international audience. Books in the Library range from titles such as the 1922 classic Sitti Nurbaya by Marah Rusli (trans. by George A. Fowler), a powerful depiction of the tension between tradition and modernity in the East Indies, to Leila S. Chudori’s 2012 novel Home (trans. by John McGlynn), a story about the tragedy of political exiles during Suharto’s regime (1965-1998) who were forced out of Indonesia after the 1965 massacre of presumed leftists and sympathisers.

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