Ben Sohib

Writer


He was born in Jember and currently lives in Jember



Ben Sohib was born in Jember, East Java, in 1967. He attended journalism classes but then spent most of his time as a vocalist in a progressive rock band at the end of the 1980s and in the early 1990s. At present, besides writing, he is also an editor at Ufuk Press.

Ben began to be known by Indonesian readers as a result of his two-part novel The Da Peci Code, published in 2006, and Rosid dan Delia [Rosid and Delia, 2008], both of which became best-sellers. Filled with a freshness of humor against a backdrop of life among the descendants of “Betawi” Arabs, that is, Arabs who had in times past settled in Jakarta, these two novels are a campaign for multiculturalism in modern Indonesian life. They both were subsequently adopted for the movie screen under the title, Tiga Hati, Dua Dunia, dan Satu Cinta [Three Hearts, Two Worlds, and One Love] and won many important awards at the 2010 Indonesian Film Festival, including Best Film.

Since then, Ben has mostly been writing short stories. Still using the backdrop of the urban life of Muslims, particularly in Jakarta, he has launched fierce criticism against the symptoms of religious radicalism that have become increasingly worrisome in Indonesia over the past several years. He also admonishes people who lightly use religious arguments to find justification for what they do. Ben’s fierce criticism is always delivered in a joking way, so that he deserves to be called one of Indonesia’s top writers in the “dark humor” vein. The Betawi dialect that he uses for his characters’ dialogue makes the stories even more lively. His latest works are an important contribution to the treasure house of modern Indonesian literature.