The Contribution Of Indonesian Novels, Short Stories And Poetry Towards Tolerance As To The G-30-s Trauma

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This article mentions Ahmad Tohari Ayu Utami Laksmi Pamuntjak Leila S. Chudori Pramoedya Ananta Toer Sitor Situmorang Umar Kayam Y. B. Mangunwijaya
Written by Alle G. Hoekema
Originally published in Tribunal 1965.
Oct 21, 2015

Probably the most traumatic experience of modern Indonesia has been the abortive coup of September 30, 1965, which in the end did cost the lives of hundreds of thousands people, most of them totally innocent. Both in Indonesia itself and elsewhere a debate is still going on as to who have to be blamed for this coup and the subsequent massacre. In the early sixties a fierce ideological chasm came into being between left-wing, partly communist (and partly atheist) groups, parties and institutions on the one hand, and religiously oriented, partly conservative, forces on the other hand. Apparently President Sukarno had not sufficient grip on the politically, culturally and economically deteriorating situation; even in his army this crevice was present. This ideological split came to an violent outburst, which till today deeply influences the life of Indonesia as a nation. Many so-called ex-tapol and their families still feel a deep hostility and suspicion from the side of other people and especially government officials, In this paper I want to show, how Indonesian novelists and poets look at this traumatic period. Did they contribute to a healing process? And, to what extent does religion or religiosity play a (positive or negative) role in their work? First of all, there are novels, short stories and poems written by (former) political prisoners, political exiles or – the second-generation victims – their children. However, others have written about this theme as well. As to their contribution we we can make a division between novels, short stories and poetry published during the so-called Orde Baru, the time of President Soeharto (who had to step down in 1998) and publications from the post-Soeharto period, the so-called Reformasi period, which continues till now.

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