Book Stories

Riding high: The secrets of Indonesia’s finest novelist

Jul 13, 2017 / Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash
EKA KURNIAWAN’S hugely inventive fiction is a potent blend of grounded realism and flighty fantasy. It has led some to describe him as Indonesia’s finest writer since Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who died in 2006.

Paper Boats by Dee Lestari

May 28, 2017 / Paper Boats
Paper Boats begins in the summer of 1999, Keenan headed back to Indonesia to start university, after spending his teen years with his grandmother in Amsterdam. He goes to study in Bandung, joining his cousin, Eko, and Eko's girlfriend, Noni; he is also immediately introduced to Noni's best friend, Kugy.

Negeri Kabut

May 23, 2017 / Negeri Kabut
Seno Gumira Ajidarma is one of the big names in Indonesia’s literary world, many of his works have gained critical acclaim. Negeri Kabut, first published in 1996, is one of them, having been awarded the 1997 Indonesian Literary Prize for the best short-story collection. To “celebrate the passion for reading of the new generation,” last October the publisher has decided to reissue it with a new, unfortunately disappointing, cover. Not to worry, though, the contents are still of a very high quality.

Examining Indonesia’s collective trauma

May 22, 2017 / Cahaya Mata Sang Pewaris
Through a new anthology, titled Cahaya Mata Sang Pewaris: Kisah Nyata Anak-Cucu Korban Tragedi ’65 (Glimmers in the eyes of the heirs: True stories from children and grandchildren of the ’65 tragedy), Balinese artist and writer Putu Oka Sukanta has put the spotlight back on the issues.

Drought by Iwan Simatupang

May 05, 2017 / Drought
Set in the 1960s, Drought is the story of an ex-student, ex-soldier and ex-bandit who transmigrates to restart life as a farmer. In 1972, whenDrought was published, transmigration programs were well underway in southern Sumatra, the setting for the novel, where a vast patchwork of settlements and many racial groups occupied the region. Living conditions were supposed to have been better than on the transmigrant’s home islands, but many of the communities failed because of underfunding, cultural and social conflicts, an ill-prepared resettlement infrastructure, a lack of marketing opportunities for produce and an inadequate supply of tools and equipment coupled with poor farming skills. It was rather like transplanting a malignant cancer from the breast onto the leg.

What do you have to sacrifice to be a “grown up”?

May 04, 2017 / Paper Boats
Most of the translated fiction that I’ve read has been fairly serious. I surprised to find that is this a light hearted and fun book.

Indonesian Literature in Translation

Apr 22, 2017 / Home The Longest Kiss
My first approach to Indonesian Literature in translation came unexpectedly through the Italian book club in Jakarta where we read the book Pulang (Home) by Indonesian female author, Leila S. Chudori. I read the book, ...

Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan

Apr 14, 2017 / Beauty Is A Wound
Beauty is a Wound. Cantik itu Luka. Just like Herman Melville’s opening line from Moby Dick, Beauty is a Wound has captured me as a reader right from the very start.  This line has promoted a sense ...

Director Hanung Bramantyo Inspired by Classic Indonesian Literature in ‘Kartini’

Apr 07, 2017 / Panggil Aku Kartini Saja
Film director Hanung Bramantyo said his latest biopic “Kartini,” which offers a critique on polygamy and the patriarchal culture of 19th century Java, has been largely inspired by letters Kartini wrote herself and the work ...

‘Enchanting Tales from Indonesia’

Apr 03, 2017 / Enchanting Tales From Indonesia
Throughout her studies at the international schools, there is something that has always made her restless. Andari said she found it very strange to not see a single international version of the Indonesian folktales that ...