Myth and History: Writing from Indonesia

Works in Translation (by Issue)


Aug 01, 2015, Words Without Borders


This month Words without Borders presents writing from Indonesia, where history and myth inform a rich narrative tradition. For many of the authors here, writing is both vehicle and subject, and their work represents and addresses the art and act of storytelling. Though the writing often turns toward the fantastical, at no time do the mythic elements here overshadow the stark realities and social struggles that permeate these stories: questions of women’s rights, fanaticism and provinciality, respect for nature and its creatures. Hasif Amini interrogates the origin of poetic invention, Taukik Ikram Jamil writes to and of a lover, and Clara Ng’s retired teacher agonizes over the daily fairy tale essential to his survival. Mona Sylviana’s cad turns a confession into entertainment. M. Iksaka Banu finds a journalist embedded with Dutch colonial invaders witnessing a tragic episode from the bloody Balinese past. In two tales of revenge, Abidah El Khalieqy’s defiant prostitute shows up her client and tormentor, and Zen Hae’s sly crow turns avenger. Acep Zamzam Noor mourns disaster and indicts the government response. We thank our guest editor, John McGlynn of the Lontar Foundation, who has done more than anyone to bring Indonesian literature to English-language readers.


Introduction / Foreword


Myth and History: Writing from Indonesia by John H. McGlynn

Work(s) in Translation


Gendhis by Abidah El Khalieqy, translated by Joan Suyenaga
The Crow by Zen Hae, translated by Marjie Suanda
writing you by Taufik Ikram Jamil, translated by John H. McGlynn
The Moon and the Magician in the Red Jacket by Clara Ng, translated by Pamela Allen
A Tale of Redemption by Mona Sylviana, translated by Toni Pollard
All for Hindia by Iksaka Banu, translated by Tjandra Kerton
When by Acep Zamzam Noor, translated by John H. McGlynn
Story by Hasif Amini, translated by Marjie Suanda