Book Stories


Laksmi Pamuntjak’s novel “The Question of Red”: The silence is broken

Oct 14, 2015 / The Question of Red: A Novel
In her novel "The Question of Red", Indonesian author Laksmi Pamuntjak effectively combines the multi-faceted nature of the island state′s sociopolitical system and its bloody recent history with the fate of her fictional protagonists. Bettina David read the book On the Islamic island of Java, many people are named after figures from the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, populated by gods and heroes – names that still stand for beauty and gallantry, grace and wisdom. However, as Laksmi Pamuntjak writes at the very start of her novel "The Question of Red", you won′t find an Amba there - her fate in the Mahabharata seems too awful.

‘Beats Apart’ Brings the Blog to the Bookstore

Oct 14, 2015 / Beats Apart
For months before the book “Beats Apart” dropped, writers Alanda Kariza and Kevin Aditya, like any other millennial writers would, channeled as much energy as possible into building up anticipation. Teasers and excerpts from the ...

Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan, translated by Annie Tucker

Oct 13, 2015 / Beauty Is A Wound
Kurniawan has frequently been mentioned in the same breath as the late Pramoedya Anata Toer in profiles and reviews. Indeed, the cover of Beauty is a Wound carries a blurb from the renowned scholar of Indonesian history Benedict Anderson declaring that in Kurniawan “Pramoedya Anata Toer has found a successor”. The comparison is inevitable, given that Pramoedya is just about the only Indonesian author with any significant degree of international recognition. But the comparison is also largely meaningless, for as that first sentence suggests, Kurniawan’s wild storytelling bears scant resemblance to Pramoedya’s earnest historical realism.

The Modern Folktales of Jakarta

Oct 12, 2015 / Tiada Ojek di Paris
The city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo, said Desmond Morris, a zoologist. This statement viewed cities with an emphasis on its people rather than its structures. However, which focus does it want to emphasise? The myriad variety of its people? Or the confines of city life, like a zoo, where people are caged from one another? In this book, subtitled “Urban Talk”, Seno Gumira Ajidarma offers sharp observations about Jakartans in 44 stories, which are collected from his published columns in newspapers. These stories are strange, yet familiar and intimate. We have heard these stories before.

‘Beauty is a Wound’ by Eka Kurniawan (Review)

Oct 12, 2015 / Beauty Is A Wound
Eka Kurniawan, a rising star of Indonesian literature, recently visited Australia, speaking at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Sadly, I was unable to attend the session, but I did manage to get hold of one of his books. Beauty is a Wound (translated by Annie Tucker, review copy courtesy of Text Publishing) is a lengthy novel about Indonesian history and society, one with an intriguing start: “One afternoon on a weekend in March, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years. A shepherd boy, awakened from his nap under a frangipani tree, peed in his shorts and screamed, and his four sheep ran off haphazardly in between stones and wooden grave markers as if a tiger had been thrown into their midst.” (p.1)

#22Before23List: Indonesian Literature Review

Oct 11, 2015 / Berjuta-juta dari Deli: Satoe Hikajat Koeli Contract Nadira Nayla Negeri 5 Menara (Trilogi Negeri 5 Menara #1)
Last year on my 22nd birthday, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish before my 23rd birthday. One of those things was to read more Indonesian literature. It has been a great while since the last time I enjoyed reading Indonesian books on a daily basis - the time was around 2nd or 3rd grade. But this year I was determined to dive more into books from my own nation because - let's face it! - there are still so many great writers and stories to choose from. I'm so happy to have done that and here are the reviews of all the Indonesian books I've been reading recently. Although, be warned, most of these books aren't particularly new - I've just been reading Indonesian books I haven't explored into and just found lying around the house.

PW Picks: Books of the Week, October 12, 2015

Oct 09, 2015 / Man Tiger
Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan, trans. from the Indonesian by Labodalih Sembiring (Verso) – Kurniawan makes his U.S. debut with this novel, along with the tour-de-force epic Beauty Is a Wound, also being published this ...

Stefanny Irawan on Translating Daughters of Papua into English

Oct 08, 2015 / Daughters of Papua
Stefanny Irawan talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about being a translator and one of the latest novels she translated, Daughters of Papua.

Hamsad Rangkuti Releases Short Story Collection LIPS IN THE CHAMBER POT

Oct 06, 2015 / Lips in the Chamber Pot
Hamsad Rangkuti's stories are carefully crafted, humorous, and often carry an unexpected twist. Overall, they deal lovingly with the diverse cultures of the disparate Indonesian Republic and with its turbulent history.

A Writer’s Haunting Trip Through the Horrors of Indonesian History

Oct 02, 2015 / Beauty Is A Wound Man Tiger
Eka Kurniawan was in town for the Melbourne Writers Festival, his first stop on a global publicity tour for his novels “Man Tiger” and “Beauty Is a Wound,” which have just been translated into English. The latter novel, an arresting portrait of Indonesia’s struggle for nationhood, delights in obscenity: no topic is spared from its bloodthirsty brand of satire. His dark sense of humor emerges even when he writes about the hundreds of thousands of people killed in the anti-Communist purge, of 1965. Kurniawan said he did not want to show them as “merely the victims and the oppressed.”