Book Stories


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.

Laksmi Pamuntjak: Beauty of the abyss

Oct 21, 2012 / Amba: Sebuah Novel
Poet and writer Laksmi Pamuntjak paints a new reality to the country’s 1965 tragedy. The slim figure of writer and poet Laksmi Pamuntjak wanders around Aksara bookstore at a mall in Central Jakarta, saying hello ...

The Failure of Free Will

Aug 16, 2012 / And the War Is Over
Nationalism, it seems, is no friend to nuance; but in the face of myth, fiction is perhaps a better corrective than scholarship. So it is that with some pleasure that we revisit Ismail Marahimin's 1977 classic And the War Is Over. Set in the Sumatran village of Teratakbuluh, the novel tells the story of a Japanese internment camp at the end of the World War Two. Cutting between the Japanese commander Osé, his Dutch prisoners of war, and the local villagers, And the War Is Over is a restrained portrait of the end of the Japanese empire.

Bilangan Fu by Ayu Utami

Aug 09, 2012 / Bilangan Fu
Ayu Utami was in the Netherlands in May 2012 to introduce her latest book, Bilangan Fu. In an interview she emphasised the three main parts of her book, summarising the three dangers of our time: Modernism, Monotheism and Militarism. Modernism has destroyed our naïve and innocent view of our world, annihilated our ability to see miracles. Monotheism has reduced the rich variety of spiritual ways to six only, the officially recognised international religions of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Catholicism and Protestantism. And these great global religions are especially damaging the rise and development of true spiritual life when they express themselves in a fundamentalist way. Militarism is presented in a somewhat nuanced way: not all military are bad people. They are very powerful and so it may be wise to seek the cooperation of good officers and try to do good things with them. This will not work always.