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Indonesia Out of Exile

Book / Biography

Indonesia Out of Exile

by Max Lane

Format: Paperback, English
240 page(s)
ISBN/ISBN13: /9789814914178
Published Feb 01, 2023 by Penguin Random House SEA

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In 1981, a new company, Hasta Mitra, founded by three men just released from over a decade in prison, published a novel written in a prison camp by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. The novel was This Earth of Mankind. It told the story of the early gestation of the Indonesian national awakening. The dictatorship eventually banned it after several months of tactical struggle by the three men, Pramoedya himself and the fighters of Hasta Mitra, Joeoef Isak and Hasyim Rachman. In defiance of the dictatorship, they went on to publish the three sequels to This Earth of Mankind, each time followed by another battle and then a ban.

This book tells of these men’s struggle, their arrests and imprisonment-the story of the writing of Pramoedya’s novels in Buru Island prison camp. They return from exile to a different Indonesia, its radical past suppressed and its people terrorised. Pramoedya’s epic novels starting with This Earth of Mankind then explodes onto the scene. Set in a time when even the idea of Indonesia had not yet formed, the book tells an inspiring creation story. The story of that early struggle and of the amazing effort to publish Pramoedya’s novels in the face of repression inspired a new generation of youth who succeeded in breaking the dictatorship. Today, a new generation is being inspired by those same books. So what comes next?


New history recounts writer-activist Pramoedya’s brave fight against persecution
John Krich   in ‘Indonesia Out of Exile’ shines light on literary masterpiece (Nikkei Asian Review, Jul 13, 2023)
In Indonesia Out of Exile, Lane portrays Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Hasjim Rachman, and Joesoef Isak as the three musketeers who valiantly defied the censors. But as in Dumas’ novel, there was a fourth musketeer, and that was Lane himself, though he understandably downplays his role.
Walden Bello   in ‘Indonesia Out of Exile’: Imagination and liberation (Rappler, Jun 29, 2023)
Regardless of Pramoedya’s political views, however, Lane argues he provided Indonesians with a long-lost link to their past, one that is fundamental in reckoning with the future of a still young nation.
Chris Barrett   in How a political prisoner’s novels gave Indonesia a sense of history (WAtoday, Feb 24, 2023)
Lane doesn’t strut his considerable achievements across half a century. But if his vision proves right, all credit to a reflective Australian for promoting a prophet admired by the world when without official honour in his own land.
Duncan Graham   in How an Australian freed an unfinished nation’s history (Interpreter, Jan 20, 2023)

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