Book Stories

World Literature Today’s 75 Notable Translations of 2020

Dec 14, 2020 / Deviant Disciples
Literary translation’s 2020 story is one of abundance and adaptation. Like most books published this year, dozens of new translations were published during a global pandemic. Events quickly moved from bookstores to Zoom. Writers and translators adapted, participating in virtual book tours, online conversations, Facebook live readings, and even virtual literary festivals. We gathered online to celebrate these new English translations and receive the community and comfort we could find there.

The Struggles of the Kretek Workers in Iksaka Banu’s Novel, Sang Raja (The King)

Dec 13, 2020 / Sang Raja
The novel Sang Raja was written by Iksaka Banu. This novel shows the struggles of people who worked in Bal Tiga kretek cigarette factory in Kudus in the early 1900s, during the Dutch colonial era. The problem in this research is how the efforts of the people who worked in Bal Tiga kretek cigarette factory sustain the life of the factory. The research objective is to analyze and study the struggles of the workers in the kretek cigarette factory in their effort to sustain Bal Tiga kretek cigarette factory. This research is a qualitative research, employing the descriptive analysis method through the intrinsic (character and setting) and extrinsic (sociology of literature and history) approaches. The kretek cigarette workers formulated various strategies and promotions to help their factory to overcome competition among cigarette factories. In addition, the tobacco harvest failure in Zanzibar and Madagascar had a major impact on the world economy. Bal Tiga kretek cigarette factory in Kudus felt the brunt of this crisis. However, after the economic crisis had passed, the people in Kudus returned to work in kretek cigarette factories enthusiastically. The results of the study show the values of humanity of the struggles of the kretek workers.

5 Food Novels by Southeast Asian Women Writers

Dec 09, 2020 / The Birdwoman’s Palate
“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Francis Bacon’s familiar maxim, about the degrees with which a reader might interact with a book, takes a renewed meaning in light of food literature. This particular category of texts has gone under many names: gastronomic novels, culinary fiction, books that cook, la fiction gourmande, or quite simply, food fiction. But the one aspect that distinguishes it, no matter the appellation, is its urgent concern with food, eating or cooking. Below are five examples of novels written by Southeast Asian women writers that explore the language of food. In their work, food acts as a theme or a symbol that represents the novel’s underlying message.

UK publisher to launch portraits of Jakarta in fiction anthology

Nov 27, 2020 / The Book of Jakarta: A City in Short Fiction
Every person who has been lucky enough to taste chaotic yet enchanting Jakarta would agree that the city is crammed with interesting stories. Open your window anywhere in the city and you will immediately find romance, horror, comedy, drama or anything in between waiting to be written down. UK-based publisher Comma Press has seized this opportunity by publishing an anthology of short stories with Jakarta as the setting, as part of its critically acclaimed Reading the City series.

How Asian film is making moves to take over from Hollywood

Nov 10, 2020 / Dial A for Aunties
When Indonesian author Jesse Q Sutanto landed a book deal for her novel, Dial A for Aunties, she hadn't anticipated the film rights immediately being snapped up by Netflix. The Jakarta-based author describes her debut as 'Crazy Rich Asians meets Weekend at Bernies'. She says the tale - about a wedding photographer who accidentally kills off her blind date and then hides the body during an Indonesian society wedding - came along at just the right time. "Everyone was in need to cheering up, because of lockdown. The over-the-top plot, and the ridiculousness of a dead body and a big wedding is such great escapism. Chinese-Indonesian weddings are amazing, they can have an average of 2,000 guests - my heroine has to hide the body with the help of her mum and aunties." Sutanto will executive produce the film, which is directed by Nahnatchka Khan, who made Fresh off the Boat, a TV series about Taiwanese immigrants adjusting to life in the US.

Indonesia’s Years of Violence

Nov 10, 2020 / Romantisme Tahun Kekerasan
Indonesian writer Martin Aleida lived and wrote through a dark chapter of Indonesia’s history. His new memoir, "Romanticism in the Years of Violence", sheds new light on the oppression and stigma faced by journalists in Indonesia in the 1960s.

Putu Oka and Goenawan

Nov 10, 2020 / Romantisme Tahun Kekerasan
Putu Oka Sukanta and Goenawan Muhammad reflect on Indonesia's Years of Violence and their friendship with Martin Aleida. Supplementary material for "Indonesia's Years of Violence". The following two interviews with Putu Oka Sukanta and Goenawan Muhammad were conducted online in succession Wednesday 27 May 2020 and should be read to supplement Warief Djajanto Basorie’s review of Romanticism in the Years of Violence, a Memoir of Martin Aleida. The interviews were conducted in Indonesia and all translations are the author’s.

Sepasang Sepatu Tua: Sepilihan Cerpen

Nov 01, 2020 / Sepasang Sepatu Tua
Sapardi Djoko Damono’s Sepasang Sepatu Tua might have just been released last year, but the contents are surprisingly not new. Most of them are recognizably included in the short story collection Pada Suatu Hari, Malam Wabah; so Mr. Sapardi’s readers might get the feeling of reading the “same” book twice coming from different publishers. The reason behind this decision to republish many of the same contents over a short period of time was not known, unless one wants to speculate the later publisher merely intended to use the late senior writer’s popularity to boost their sell, for this was not the first time they―or any other publisher―did so with senior writers’ old works.

A lauded Indonesian writer’s English debut and 4 more fresh horror books perfect for Halloween

Oct 22, 2020 / Apple and Knife
“Apple and Knife” by Intan Paramaditha, translated by Stephen J. Epstein (Brow): “Apple and Knife” is acclaimed Indonesian writer Intan Paramaditha’s first English publication, and its intensely personal short stories will leave you with bite marks and bruises. A work of subversive feminist horror inspired by myths and folklore, the claustrophobic stories here are inhabited by desperate people and have a suffocating feel. Their fears originate in both everyday life and the foreboding sense that there’s no escape from predators who hide in both the light and the dark in a country where few are safe — especially women and other vulnerable communities. They’re harried by cursed sea queens and stalked by menstruation hags on one side and preyed upon by a ruling class that’s been warped and perverted by wealth and power on the other. In Paramaditha’s hands, we’re not clear which is worse, or that there’s any difference at all.

Asian women writers gain a wider audience thanks to translations of their work crowdfunded by a British publisher

Oct 11, 2020 / Deviant Disciples
“Women do write. They carry multiple burdens, but they still endeavour to create,” says Faye Cura, co-founder of Gantala Press, a Filipino feminist literary collective and small press that publishes books and other publications documenting the conditions and struggles of women. “We know of a farmer who writes poems in her little notebook while waiting for people to buy vegetables in her stall,” she explains. “We know of a union leader who composed poems in her cell, after being wrongfully arrested for organising a workers’ strike. We know of a migrant woman worker who writes poems and essays after a hard day at the factory, and has even won literary awards for her writings. I think what publishers can do is to actively seek these works and publish them.” One such publishers is the non-profit, British-based Tilted Axis Press, which was founded in 2015 and focuses mainly on translated work by Asian writers .