What Media Says


Indonesian writers as seen on English/foreign-language media. See also Media Clippings.


Sep 04, 2005 / Jakarta Post
on Sapardi Djoko Damono

Sapardi’s words pull in new generations

Veteran poet Sapardi Djoko Damono is as cool right now as he was 10, 20 and 30 years ago. Earlier this month on the night of the launch of his latest book, Before Dawn, the young and sexy actress, Cornelia Agatha, asked if she could pose with him for a picture. But the starlet, who usually has throngs of fans wanting to stand next to her, had to wait her turn -- Sapardi had a long line of well-wishers.
Apr 20, 2005 / Green Left Weekly
on Joesoef Isak

Joesoef Isak wins PEN Australia award

Indonesian left-wing publisher Joesoef Isak attended the Third Asia Pacific International Solidarity Conference (APISC) in Sydney over the Easter weekend. In addition to speaking at a workshop on "Marxism in Indonesia after 1965" and on plenary panel on the current political situation in Indonesia, Isak also gave short greetings to the conference on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955 — the conference that spawned the Non-Aligned Movement. Isak was the secretary-general of the Asia Africa Journalists Association from 1962 until 1965 when General Suharto seized power. Isak was detained in 1967 and imprisoned without trial until 1977.
Sep 26, 2003 / Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography
on Tan Malaka

From City to City: Tan Malaka, Shanghai and the Politics of Geographical Imagining

This paper focuses on the geographical imagining and agency of colonized people by exploring particular accounts in the life‐experience manuscript of Tan Malaka (1897‐1949), a displaced Indonesian “radical”, who found himself in Shanghai in January 1932 and engulfed in the semi-state of war between China and Japan. It traces the ways in which this adventure in Shanghai both shaped and was shaped by how this “hero of national independence” confronted colonialism and the nationalist agitations in Jakarta in the 1940s. It, thus, traces the ways in which the landscape and contradictions in the social space of the (colonial) city heightened the consciousness of people in the colonial world, transforming the way they thought about their social and political identities.
Aug 04, 2002 / Los Angeles Times
on Pramoedya Ananta Toer

The Extraordinary Life and Writing of Indonesia’s Tolstoy

Seven years ago, I made one of the great discoveries in my life as a reader when a friend pressed into my hands a copy of "This Earth of Mankind," by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, the first volume of what has come to be called the Buru Quartet. Pramoedya is one of those rare writers whose stature the reader perceives at once, from afar, like a tower. The Buru books, set amid the emergence of modern Indonesia, struck me then as one of the most ambitious undertakings in postwar world literature, and time has only heightened my admiration for this great literary artist. The Buru novels are Tolstoyan in humanism and scope, and reminiscent of Conrad in their philosophical profundity and exquisite tonal articulacy; they are also gripping narratives (the first two volumes, anyway; their impact diminishes in the later volumes). Yet as great as these dramas are, they are overshadowed by the author's own life story.
Apr 15, 2002 / Latitudes
on Chairil Anwar

Chairil Anwar: Poet of a Generation

Chairil Anwar: every Indonesian schoolchild knows his name. For this poet was  one of the famed figures of the “1945 Generation,” that group of luminaries who brought heat and light to Indonesian literature in the formative years of the new nation. Through his poetry, Chairil Anwar succeeded in infusing Indonesian verse with a new spirit and bringing a new enthusiasm to Indonesia’s cultural arena. He also provided friends and acquaintances with never-ending tales to tell of his personal eccentricities, including his hobby of stealing books from the shops, his tendency to plagiarize from foreign poets, his many lovers, his numerous ailments, and his bohemian lifestyle. 
May 27, 2000 / The New York Times
on Ayu Utami

A Young Novelist Challenges Indonesia’s Taboos

For Indonesia, 1998 was a time of two revolutions, political and cultural. Suharto's downfall and the subsequent election of President Abdurrahman Wahid received worldwide attention, but no one outside noticed the appearance of "Saman," a novella by an unknown 27-year-old named Ayu Utami. The book quickly became a phenomenon, reigniting the kind of public debate that had atrophied under Suharto's regime. It touched on virtually all of Indonesia's taboos: extra-marital sex, political repression, the relationship between Christians and Muslims, hatred of the Chinese.
Jun 20, 1999 / Prospect Magazine UK
on Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Pramoedya

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesia's leading novelist, was jailed for 14 years under Suharto's New Order. Before the June elections, he reflects on Indonesian politics and writer's block. If you ask Pramoedya Ananta Toer what has changed in Indonesia since the end of the Suharto dictatorship last May, he gives a bleak answer. “Nothing,” says Indonesia’s most acclaimed novelist and one of its finest historians. “This is just a continuation of Suharto’s New Order. It’s just the New New Order.” On the face of it, this is a surprising thing to say. Since the riots last year in Jakarta, which left 1,200 dead, Suharto himself has lived in seclusion in his compound in Menteng. But outside, his New Order appears to be unravelling.
Jun 06, 1999 / Jakarta Post
on Remy Sylado

For Remy Sylado, 23761 are the Magic Notes

Everything. He speaks intelligently about theater and poetry. He can givea scholarly analysis about Indonesian music, then he will switch to a deep discussion on theology. Next, it's film, sociology, history, you name it. Sylado speaks eloquently on a wide range of topics, from Sitti Nurbaya to The Beatles. The man is clearly a walking encyclopedia of arts and humanities.
Apr 12, 1999 / The Progressive
on Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Pramoedya Ananta Toer Interview

Pramoedya Ananta Toer is the preeminent novelist of Indonesia and is frequently mentioned as a candidate for a Nobel Prize. Born on February 1, 1925, on the island of Java, Pramoedya was brought up to be an Indonesian nationalist. From 1947 to 1949, he was imprisoned by the Dutch for possessing anti-colonial materials. A supporter of Indonesia’s first president, the nationalist and nonaligned leader Sukarno, Pramoedya was a marked man when General Suharto seized power in September 1965. On the evening of October 13, 1965, Pramoedya was at home editing a collection of Sukarno’s short stories when the military came for him. He spent most of the Suharto era behind bars without trial, including fourteen years at the Buru Island Prison Colony. For the first few years there, he was held with sixteen other prisoners in isolation from the other inmates.
Apr 24, 1998 / Asia Week
on Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Fighting Words

Neither prison nor the passing of years has weakened Pramoedya Ananta Toer's passion for justice in Indonesia. To have one of his books in your possession is to invite a stiff jail sentence. Even so, Pramoedya Ananta Toer views the outlawing of his work with pride. "Every book that is banned is a badge of honor," he says. Others think so too -- copies of his work are circulated widely, but clandestinely in Indonesia. Toer smiles and takes another puff of the clove cigarettes that never seem to leave his hand. The soft-spoken grandfather is a thorn in the side of President Suharto's New Order government, and has been for decades.