Book Stories

Intan Paramaditha Apple and Knife

Mar 03, 2018 / Apple and Knife
This new story collection by the Indonesian-born Intan Paramaditha uses horror as a vehicle for representing the experiences of women living in patriarchy and for expressing feminist anger. The results are both unsettling and intoxicating. Often revising fairytales, the stories are reminiscent of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, though the direct manner of narration resembles the narrative style of Haruki Murakami, who also has a penchant for the Gothic.

‘My Pain, My Country’: A detailed account of a rape victim

Feb 28, 2018 / My Pain, My Country
Imagine that your teenage daughter has been raped. What would you do? You venture into the streets in panic to find her, but the streets are blocked as riots have flared across the city. And you happen to be a Chinese Indonesian, a member of a community most vulnerable to attacks. Terror reins your mind and conflicting streams of thoughts rush in. What words to utter when you would eventually meet her? How would you unroll your day as one minute has become an eternity? How would your neighbours, relatives and friends react to learning this? My Pain, My Country tells you all about it in exacting details.

Apple and Knife by Intan Paramaditha

Feb 26, 2018 / Apple and Knife
Apple and Knife is an engrossing collection of short stories by Intan Paramaditha, translated into English from Indonesian for the first time by Stephen J. Epstein. I found myself so absorbed in the tales that I repeatedly lost track of time while reading. Fairytales, mythology, bits of horror and fantasy, moralistic vengeance, infidelity, and even witchcraft are all thrown together with a feminist bent to deliver the chapters in this small volume.

Eliza Vitri Handayani on Her Novel of Freedom Set in a Repressed Society

Feb 13, 2018 / From Now On Everything Will Be Different
Indonesian writer Eliza Vitri Handayani's short works have appeared in the Griffith Review, Asia Literary Review, Exchanges Journal, Magdalene, Jakarta Post, Koran Tempo, Words Without Borders, Inside Indonesia, and Index on Censorship. In 2012 she launched InterSastra, an initiative to improve literary translation in Indonesia. In 2016 Eliza was selected as a WrICE fellow and participated in residencies in China and Australia. Her controversial novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different (Vagabond Press) was published in 2015. Told in a series of deftly deployed flashbacks, the story revolves around two lovers who participated in the student protest movement that helped to oust Suharto in 1998, who had ruled Indonesia under his repressive New Order regime since 1967.

Tale of the Bidadari by Stephani Soejono

Feb 12, 2018 / The Tale of Bidadari
Eriang visits a remote village with his father, a doctor, on a mercy mission. From the architecture and headdress worn by the womenfolk, this community seems to be Minangkabau. Furthermore, the village chief is a woman: the Minangkabau are largest matrilineal society in the world.

Jakarta author seeks a lighter side of Islam

Feb 10, 2018 / Bukan Perawan Maria
Around the time half a million ­Indonesian Muslims packed Jakarta’s national monument park in late 2016 to pray for the blasphemy conviction of the city’s Christian governor, Feby Indirani decided to test reaction to her new collection of religious parodies by publishing one online. It’s fair to say the feedback to Baby Wants to Convert , in which a pig called Baby seeks permission to convert to Islam, was mixed.

Disobedient women

Feb 09, 2018 / Apple and Knife
When you hear the term “Indonesian woman”, what comes to mind? When Sihir Perempuan was published in 2005, Intan Paramaditha was only twenty-five and on the verge of leaving Indonesia for graduate studies in the United States. She has been wandering ever since. However, her debut collection of short stories, whose title can be translated as “Black Magic Woman”, has left its mark on many Indonesian readers. It has influenced a handful of younger writers, like Guntur Alam and Eve Shi, and turned Paramaditha’s work into a sort of gothic, feminist cult.

Riot RoundUp: The Best Books We Read in January

Feb 05, 2018 / Beauty Is A Wound
This is a fabulous book set in Indonesia during and after WWII. The best comparison I could give you is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s tragic and funny and gruesome and beautiful. This book is epic. It is everything. I loved it so much. Writing about it now is making me think about it again, and I can’t believe this isn’t more widely read! It should be! Everyone should read it! Kurniawan has a beautiful talent.

Feby Indirani: Writing religious parodies

Jan 22, 2018 / 69 Things To Be Grateful About Being Single Bukan Perawan Maria
Mary is pregnant without ever having intercourse with a man. Without being married. Such a miracle happened when Jesus was born fatherless. Nowadays, who would believe that Mary was impregnated without having intercourse? Those sentences appeared in the opening of a short story penned by Indonesian author Feby Indirani titled Bukan Perawan Maria (Not Virgin Mary). It was included in an eponymous short story anthology published by Pabrikultur last year.

Staff Picks: Vengeance, Evil, and Grace

Jan 19, 2018 / Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash
I recently read Eka Kurniawan’s novel Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash as if either the book or I were outfitted with afterburners. Vengeance is a comic picaresque that the publisher has likened to a Quentin Tarantino film; Kurniawan’s prose, translated from the Indonesian by Annie Tucker, is pungent and blunt, but there’s more talk of fighting than actual fights, and a scene in which a pair of 18-wheelers battle for dominance at high speeds on a two-lane road could not have been reproduced in film to such great effect.