Book Stories


Julia’s War On Almost Everything

Jun 30, 2013 / Julia’s Jihad
When Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came to power in 2004, the general consensus was that he was the best thing to happen to Indonesia since the fall of Soeharto. Today, it is hard to find anyone with much praise for SBY. Many Indonesians are yearning for a '€œstrong-man'€ president and believe that ex-general Prabowo Subianto, whose troops oversaw the abduction, torture and '€œdisappearance'€ of pro-democracy activists, is the best man for the job.

Jazz, Perfume and the Incident by Seno Gumira Ajidarma

Jun 01, 2013 / Jazz, Perfume & the Incident
Ostensibly from its title you’d think this is a book of light-hearted short stories, but this is decidedly not the case. The unorthodox structure of this supposedly cosmopolitan novel is a disguise. The searing emotional thrust of Jazz, Perfume & The Incident centers around one of the most shameful episodes in Indonesia’s modern history – the infamous massacre of civilians in Dili, the capital of East Timor. Euphemistically known as The Dili Incident, you need a strong stomach to read the eight depressing chapters entitled “Report on the Incident” nos. 1, 2, 3, etc.

Fireflies in Manhattan through Javanese Eyes

Mar 22, 2013 / Fireflies in Manhattan
The Lontar Foundation has for more than 25 years now endeavored to bring quality Indonesian works of literature to an international audience with their literature- in- translation project. For the past year, one gets the feeling that Lontar is cranking up its efforts to bring even more new Indonesian works of literature to the international community to be in time for the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair two years from now. So for readers new to Indonesian works, you have a whole pile of treats waiting for you. But, you will not go far amiss if your introduction is through reading the translated works of Umar Kayam, some of which he began to write while living in New York. These are compiled in a Lontar edition titled “Fireflies in Manhattan”, a collection of pieces by the author spanning a good three decades of his prolific career.

The Rainbow Troops

Feb 23, 2013 / Laskar Pelangi (Tetralogi Laskar Pelangi #1) The Rainbow Troops: A Novel
WHEN it comes to learning about Indonesia from fiction, most Australian readers won't have gone much further than Christopher Koch's 1978 novel, The Year of Living Dangerously. It is a wonderful and important book, but part of its point is that it presents an outsider's view. The Rainbow Troops, written in Indonesian and first published in 2005, is very much the view from inside: it's an autobiographical novel in which Andrea Hirata recalls his childhood on the island of Belitong, where he attended the village school.

Book Review: Saman

Feb 19, 2013 / Saman
A schoolgirl falls in love with her teacher; a priest defends a rural village and loses faith in God; a woman plans an affair with a married man. Such are the plot lines in Ayu Utami’s Saman, a 1998 romance novel that became a cultural sensation in Indonesia following its publication. At first glance, Saman is a simple love story, keeping with many conventions of that genre. However, as it deals with the thorny issues of religion, sexuality, and governmental oppression, Saman demands a second look. Credited with starting a movement of young female authors known as “sastra wangi,” or “fragrant literature,” Saman attacks many topics that are sacred or taboo in Indonesia. As a result, the book became a magnet for both controversy and acclaim, winning the Jakarta Arts Council Novel Competition, the Prince Claus Award, and selling more than 100,000 copies in Indonesia alone.

Indonesia born publisher discusses the infamous Mata Hari at Florey’s

Feb 12, 2013 / My Name is Mata Hari
In 2012, Dalang released its first title — the English translation of “My Name is Mata Hari” by Remy Sylado. Originally published as “Namaku Mata Hari” in 2010 by Indonesian publisher Penerbit PT Gramedia Pustaka, translator Dewi Anggraeni holds the 2012 English rendition copyright. On Saturday afternoon, the publisher will be at Florey’s to present “My Name is Mata Hari.”

Getting schooled

Feb 09, 2013 / The Rainbow Troops: A Novel
IKAL and his ten classmates, who call themselves “the rainbow troops”, attend the only free school in the poorest part of Belitong Island in Indonesia. They learn their times tables with twigs; there is no toilet and when rain leaks through the roof they study under umbrellas at their desks. But these resourceful kids know that education is the key to breaking the cycle of illiteracy and hard labour that runs through their families.

The Best-Selling Books in 10 Countries Around the World

Feb 03, 2013 / The Rainbow Troops: A Novel
The American edition of Andrea Hirata’s The Rainbow Troops comes emblazoned with its credentials: “A literary phenomenon: Indonesia’s best-selling book of all time; more than five million copies sold.” That figure is worldwide, of course — but the autobiographical novel, which was first published in 2005, has still sold over a million copies in Indonesia, where, according to the book’s publisher Bentang Pustaka, a book that sells 3,000 copies in a year is considered a smash hit. Will it do as well in the English-language book market? Only time will tell.

Novel ‘Pulang’ Asks Tough Questions of Indonesia

Dec 18, 2012 / Pulang
Poet and writer Sitok Srengenge pondered in silence as the spotlight slowly lit the stage at the auditorium of the Goethe-Institut, Jakarta, on Wednesday. His arms were crossed and his face was bearing the signs ...

Lost Love in ‘Amba’ Never Truly Dies

Oct 24, 2012 / Amba: Sebuah Novel
If you are searching for a book that is profound, original and evokes the story of Romeo and Juliet, where love is both the big question and the answer to all, pick up a copy of “Amba.” The beautifully written novel by Laksmi Pamuntjak, a poet, food critic, essayist and short story writer, will awaken in you that feeling of being deeply in love again.