The Problem With Promoting Indonesian Literature Abroad?: A Simplistic White Gaze

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This article mentions Dicky Senda Dwiputri Pertiwi Eka Kurniawan Eliza Vitri Handayani Gratiagusti Chananya Rompas Intan Paramaditha John H. McGlynn Madina Malahayati Chumaera Mikael Johani Norman Erikson Pasaribu Saut Situmorang Tiffany Tsao
Written by Theodora Sarah Abigail
Originally published in Jakarta Globe.
Mar 05, 2019

Many foreigners hold a mental image of a primitive Indonesia that is full of slums and dirty rivers and piles of garbage. They imagine, at best, the bamboo huts, the rice paddies and pastoral scenes. The Indonesia filtered, then presented by foreign translators and well-meaning international organizations has been selected to compound this image of a provincial country, one fragranced with nose-biting spices and jasmine blooms. But Indonesian writers tell a more expansive story. In their books, Indonesia is rich with bustling, vibrant cities, glass airports, museums full of art. The cities burst with becak and kopaja and buses and trains; every minute a plane leaves an airport. People fall in love in a grand mall, fall to their knees in a mosque; they fall out of love in a coffee shop. Families dance until night falls, and the people are not so different from you and I.

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