What Media Says

Indonesian writers as seen on English/foreign-language media. See also Media Clippings.

Jan 26, 2021 / T
on Erni Aladjai

The Writer Who Challenges the Notion that ‘Asian Novels’ Are a Monolith

Southeast Asian literature is often seen as a monolith — this, despite the fact that the subregion consists of 11 countries, each bearing an immeasurable number of unique cultures and languages. Indonesian writer Erni Aladjai is deeply familiar with the discourse. She says that the lack of distinction between literature within Southeast Asia is due to a lack of awareness.
Jan 08, 2021 / Australian, The
on Norman Erikson Pasaribu

When Sergius meets Bacchus

Myth, Joseph Campbell once said, is the “homeland of the muses”: a polite way of saying that poets, artists and musicians have plundered more than their fair share of Biblical narratives and Greek and Roman myths. Shakespeare was so enamoured of Ovid’s treasury of myths in the encyclopaedic Metamorphoses that he not only mined them for material — most prominently, the stories of Venus and Adonis, Pyramus and Thisbe, and Philomel — but he also even had characters in two plays, Cymbeline and Titus Andronicus, mention reading the Metamorphoses. Contemporary poets are no different: the recently-anointed Nobel Laureate in literature, Louise Glück, has built a body of work centred on classical myths, including the queen of the underworld, Persephone, and Odysseus’s long-suffering wife, Penelope. This week’s poet, Norman Erikson Pasaribu, draws on a fascinating myth from a Greek passion as a backdrop to his debut collection, Sergius Seeks Bacchus (Giramondo), translated by Tiffany Tsao: that of the Christian martyrs Sergius and Bacchus, who, as the myth goes, were executed by the anti-Christian Roman emperor Galerius Maximianus.
Jan 07, 2021 / NOW!Jakarta
on Laksmi Pamuntjak

A Literary Interview with Laksmi Pamuntjak, Celebrated Indonesian Novelist

Laksmi Pamuntjak (1971 - ) is a bilingual Indonesian novelist, poet, journalist, essayist, and food critic. She writes opinion and features articles for numerous Indonesian publications as Tempo and the Jakarta Post, as well as international publications such as South China Morning Post, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Die Welt. Laksmi’s first bestselling novel, Amba/The Question of Red, won Germany’s LiBeraturpreis 2016 and was named #1 on Germany’s Weltempfaenger list of the best works of fiction from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Arab World translated into German.The novel has been translated into several languages. Laksmi recently met with Alistair Speirs Now! Jakarta’s publisher at Amuz Gourmet Restaurant for lunch and a far-ranging chat about her extraordinary career.
Jan 02, 2021 / Jakarta Post
on Feby Indirani

Bye 2020 & Cheers to a healthy New Year

For me, 2020 was the year to acknowledge grief, personally and collectively, and learning to embrace it while trying to manage it. I lost a cousin and four friends, and I guess most people I know have lost one or more people in their lives, and it was devastating. […] We’d rather deny and hide our grief than sit [down] with it and listen to what it has to say. The year 2020 pushed us to look at grief in the eye. […] At the beginning of 2020, I called it “the year of motion”, in the sense that I would move a lot physically around cities and countries, which ironically turned out to be exactly the opposite.
Nov 16, 2020 / Liminal Magazine
on Tiffany Tsao

Interview #154 — Tiffany Tsao

Tiffany Tsao is a writer and literary translator living in Sydney. She is the author of the novel Under Your Wings and the Oddfits fantasy series. She also translates poetry and prose from Indonesian to English; her translations include Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s poetry collection, Sergius Seeks Bacchus, for which she was awarded the 2017 PEN Presents prize and the 2018 PEN Translates prize. Prior to her work in the publishing world, Tiffany received a Ph.D. in English Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and was a lecturer at University of Newcastle. Tiffany spoke to Whitney McIntosh about fantasy fiction, the art of translating, and what you should be reading in 2021.
Nov 09, 2020 / Jakarta Post
on Eka Kurniawan

Eka Kurniawan: A modest literary star

It is fair to say that Indonesian author Eka Kurniawan is a modest literary star. He has gained more public attention since the English version of his novel Lelaki Harimau (Man Tiger) was longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize. In 2019, he won the Prince Claus Award in the literary category. His works have been translated into 35 languages. When interviewed virtually on the sidelines of KEMBALI 2020: A Rebuild Bali Festival, Eka talked in simple words, conveying his ideas in a very soft-spoken and relaxed manner, while peppering his answers with playful jokes here and there.
Nov 06, 2020 / Electric Literature
on Tiffany Tsao

7 Literary Translators You Need to Know

From Indonesian to Brazilian Portuguese, here are the translators who are making contemporary world literature accessible to English readers. Tiffany Tsao: Indonesian to English Indonesian was the language of the elders in Tiffany Tsao’s Chinese Indonesian family. Tsao, who was born in California and grew up in Indonesia and Singapore, reimmersed herself in the language while working on her Ph.D. in English at UC Berkeley. The now Sydney-based Tsao’s translations include Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s poetry collection Sergius Seeks Bacchus, Dee Lestari’s novel Paper Boats, and Laksmi Pamuntjak’s The Birdwoman’s Palate. She’s currently translating a collection of short stories by Budi Darma, called Orang-Orang Bloomington, or The People of Bloomington, set in Bloomington, Indiana (read one of the stories here). Also on the way is a collection of Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s short stories, Happy Stories, Mostly (check out at Catapult and The White Review). After that, Tsao will switch translation seats—her own English-language novel, The Majesties, will be translated into Indonesian by Norman Erikson Pasaribu.
Sep 21, 2020 / Peoples Dispatch
on Martin Aleida

The Lekra Spirit Lives: Martin Aleida on Indonesia’s Revolutionary Cultural Group

Designer Tings Chak spoke with Indonesian writer Martin Aleida about Lekra and the legacy of repression of left movements in Indonesia. “It was the worst when I was released. That’s the biggest prison I had to face.” Martin Aleida recalls the moment he was released from prison at the end of 1966. The then 22-year-old writer emerged from nearly a year behind bars to a Jakarta where his friends could not be found. His workplace, Harian Rakyat (‘The People’s Daily’), the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) was no longer. His Party and cultural organization, Lekra, was banned – and they have been illegal ever since. Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research reached out to the now 76-year-old Martin, three months into the pandemic. Though a North Sumatra native, Martin has lived in Jakarta since the early 1960s, where he responded to us via Facebook at a local library that he frequents every Saturday.
Sep 17, 2020 / Netherlandsandyou.nl
on Eka Kurniawan

Interview with Indonesian Author Eka Kurniawan

Eka Kurniawan, a famous Indonesian author who won the Dutch Prince Claus Award in 2018 for capturing the distinctiveness of Indonesian culture in his works. Eka Kurniawan, “Winning the prize gave me a priceless experience, it gave me new insights on literature and the world in a larger sense.” We asked him some questions on how he is doing after winning this prize.
Sep 17, 2020 / The Journal
on Felix K. Nesi

What Felix Nesi Does and Thinks When He Writes

What makes you love writing and feel the need to write? And why literature? I like writing. When I was at university, I was a part of the university press. I learned journalism. Now, my friends and I are parts of “Komunitas Leko” creating citizen journalism, and we have a website LekoNTT.com. So, literature is not really a final stage for me. I heard that you hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology. How does it affect your writings especially when you create the characters in your novel? I started my bachelor’s degree in Indonesian Literature at Sanata Dharma University, but it was so expensive that my parents could not afford it. I really wanted to go to university, so when I saw another institution offered a cheaper option to study psychology, I took that opportunity. It might have influenced me, but I’m not really sure.