InterSastra Introduces Diverse Indonesia: Next Generation

Blog / News


February 6, 2016 — Valent Mustamin


Early in January, InterSastra, an Indonesian literary translation initiative, introducing a new program “Diverse Indonesia: Next Generation“. This is a series on Indonesian literature in translation, which was initiated since July last year.

It started when they decided to open up space for the authors not yet selected by the Indonesian National Committee to participate in Frankfurt Book Fair 2015.

In August, they sent out a call for submission, invites writers to submit works of maximum 3,000 words for prose, and maximum 5 pages for poetry. And followed up by a selection process conducted by a voluntarily team, in September. As a highlight, all submissions are judged blind. This means that no names or biography or identifying elements are shown during the selection.

For prose, Miagina Amal, Dalang Publishing‘s owner and publisher Lian Gouw, and InterSastra’s founder Eliza Vitri Handayani, selected the pieces to be published. And for poetry, Miagina Amal teamed up with Zen Hae did the selection. While Norman Erikson Pasaribu gathered, solicited works, and formatted them before passing them to the selection teams, and Eliza finalized the process with edited the stories.

Previously named only as “Diverse Indonesia”, they finally changed the name into “Diverse Indonesia: Next Generation”, after realized the works they ended up selecting happended to be by writers born in the 80’s and 90’s.

* * *

The following is the first four in a series on Indonesian literature in translation. Starts on January 10, this edition will publish one piece, in English and bahasa Indonesia, every Sunday until March 2016.

January 10: Baluembidi, a short story by Putra Hidayatullah, translated by Linda Lingered.

Little Banta has heard this warning all his life: don’t swim in the river, or the evil spirit Baluembidi will drown you. After military men with strange accents rode into his small hometown in Aceh, and his father disappeared, Banta went to the river.

January 17: The Embrace of the Rengas Tree, a short story by Dwi Ratih Ramadhany, translated by Linda Lingered.

Gema’s brother was found dead after entering the sacred ancestors’ forest. Everyone in Gema’s village in Kalimantan thought that he was cursed, but Gema remembered him telling her about strange men whom he had spied on in the sacred land, chopping down trees.

January 24: All for a Son, a short story by Guntur Alam, translated by Maya Denisa Saputra.

In Tanah Abang, South Sumatra, after girls married they would leave their parents’ hut and live with their in-laws. If a husband-and-wife didn’t have any sons, who would take care of them in their old age? Despite being over 40 and already having 14 daughters, Maryam is determined to have a baby boy.

January 31: Poems by Adimas Immanuel, translated by Miagina Amal & Kaitlin Rees.

These poems feel intimate as they are about everyday experiences, but the poet reformulates them with a very personal touch. With irony and humor, the poet explores the interconnection of identity and poetry.

February 7: Ah Xiang’s Last Day by Leopold Adi Surya Indrawan, translated by Indah Lestari, edited by Marjie Suanda.

As night almost falls, Ah Xiang leaves the terrace. He turns back and watches himself sitting motionlessly, his eyes shut as if he is sleeping soundly. Ah Xiang wipes the face and leaves his body. He still has no idea of where to go.

February 14: Mrs. Wagu’s Great Day by Desi Puspitasari, translated by Andy Fuller, edited by Pam Allen.

No one understood Mrs. Wagu better than her dogs. Nor was there anyone more loyal to her. She had started to look after dogs when her husband had died and her children had left home. The dogs were called Chocolate, Coffee, Milk and Black Tea.

February 21: Poems by Mario F Lawi, Translated by Kaitlin Rees & Miagina Amal.

* * *

Founded by Eliza Vitri Handayani in 2012, InterSastra was born out of Eliza’s concern for literary translation in Indonesia. She hopes to contribute towards improving literary translation in Indonesia, and to support literary exchange between Indonesia and the world.

Leave a Reply