Max Lane

Writer / See Indonesianist


He was born in Australia and currently lives in Yogyakarta



A writer and researcher and translator, editor and consultant with 36 years of experience in and with Indonesia, as well as with Singapore and the Philippines and with the East Timorese community in Australia. He is an Honorary Associate in Indonesian Studies, School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sydney.

Max Lane introduced the English-speaking world to the revolutionary that is Pramoedya Ananta Toer, often speculated to be Indonesia’s best candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Lane, now a lecturer of international politics at Victoria University, was a mid-level officer working at the Australian embassy in Jakarta when he began translating Pramoedya’s Bumi Manusia in 1980. At this time, Indonesian president Suharto’s New Order Regime (the Partai Golongan Karya [Party of the Functional Groups, also known as Golkar]) was in power, propped up by foreign investment and backed by the army. It was also when heavy-handed repression was the norm in Southeast Asia, and Suharto’s New Order government was no exception. In the early 1980s, corpses began surfacing in public places as a result of extrajudicial killings. These ‘Petrus’ (Penembak Misterius, or mysterious shooter) killings were undertaken by the army to reduce the crime rate, which President Suharto openly admitted in his biography.  The Indonesian government was also involved in a bloody conflict in East Timor as guerrillas resisted the Indonesian occupation beginning in 1975.