What Media Says

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

Aug 26, 2021 / Personal Blog
on Budi Darma

In memory of Budi Darma; a snippet of correspondence about old people and old age

I received terrible news on Saturday. Budi Darma, the Indonesian author whose short story collection I recently translated, had passed away. He had been battling with covid for weeks. I had been receiving updates from someone at his publisher (Noura Books) about his condition and had been hopeful because one of the more recent updates said that he was showing some progress, though still had a persistent cough. Then on Saturday morning, I received news that his blood pressure had plummeted and he was unconscious. Worried, I texted an Indonesian writer friend. A few seconds later, she received a text from her own editor at another publisher that Budi Darma was gone. I received further confirmation from someone else that it was true.
Aug 19, 2021 / BBC
on Amir Hamzah

A radiant light: The Indonesian poet Amir Hamzah

The writer Amir Hamzah is a national hero in Indonesia celebrated for both his poetry and his role in the development of the country’s national language. Hamza was an emotional man who struggled with thwarted love and inner conflict and created a beguilingly intense body of work. His poetry paid homage to Malay literary tradition infused with Islamic mysticism but also reflected new ideas springing up in the artistic circles in Java where he worked in the 1930s. Towards the end of that decade events conspired to enforce his return to the family home in Sumatra and ultimately led to his becoming a tragic victim of brutal retribution during Indonesia’s transition to independence. Rajan Datar is joined by Ayu Utami, an award-winning Indonesian novelist, playwright and broadcaster; Ben Murtagh, Reader in Indonesian and Malay at SOAS, University of London, and managing editor of the journal Indonesia and the Malay World; and Taufiq Hanafi, an Indonesian literary scholar currently at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies in Leiden. The reader is Sallehuddin Abdullah-Sani.
Aug 15, 2021 / Res Publica
on Goenawan Mohamad Laksmi Pamuntjak Leila S. Chudori Mochtar Lubis Oka Rusmini Pramoedya Ananta Toer Siti Rukiah Kertapati

Freedom! Freedom!: Women and Politics in Indonesian Literature

The 17th of August marks the day Indonesia rose to its knees. It’s natural then as if by automation, to think of Ir. Soekarno reading the proclamation aloud with charisma that lives on. It’s easy too, to think about a history so nuanced: the story of a quasi-socialist nation, bloody massacres whose aftermath remains unstudied, the rise and fall of ideology, the erasure of names; of people; of land; of narratives.
Aug 06, 2021 / Conversation, The
on Putu Oka Sukanta

Indonesian writer confronts COVID-19 through poetry

As Indonesia becomes the world’s COVID-19 epicentre, writer and activist Putu Oka Sukanta’s poetry reflects how the pandemic has changed human relations and ways to maintain optimism and resilience. As a former political detainee – Sukanta was imprisoned for ten years without trial by Suharto’s New Order regime and is one of the diminishing numbers of survivors of the 1965-66 mass violence in Indonesia – he knows too well the government’s shortcomings in meeting the needs of the country’s most vulnerable.
May 20, 2021 / British Library – Blog
on Siti Rukiah Kertapati

An inspiring Indonesian woman writer: S. Rukiah

The current British Library exhibition, Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights (until 1 August 2021), documenting feminist activism in the UK in historical context, is accompanied by a wide-ranging programme of talks and articles exploring the complex history of women’s rights across the world. A recent blog post focussed on Inspiring women writers of Laos; this blog highlights another inspiring female writer from Southeast Asia, S. Rukiah (1927-1996). The proclamation of Indonesian independence in 1945 towards the end of World War Two heralded another five years of armed conflict within the country: between Indonesian nationalists and the returning Dutch colonial power, but also between left- and right-leaning factions of Indonesia’s nascent military force. The period also ushered in a host of new literary voices. One Indonesian writer who came of age during this time, and whose writings were shaped by the pressures and anguishes of the Revolution, was S. Rukiah, whose 1950 novel Kejatuhan dan Hati (‘The Fall and the Heart’), is probably the most important early Indonesian novel by a female writer.
May 15, 2021 / Sierra Magazine
on Khairani Barokka

Meet 13 Asian and Asian Diasporic Nature and Environment Writers

For far too long, Asian Americans have been overlooked in conversations on climate change and the natural world. In a Yale School of Climate Change Communication report that purports to reveal which racial groups care most about climate change, for instance, the results for Asian Americans were unavailable, raising concerns over the low sample size. However, the inability to retrieve data on Asian communities—whether because of language barriers or questions over which ethnic groups are considered Asian American—reveals a more insidious concern: that Asian Americans have always been an afterthought in the national imagination. Since the Atlanta spa shootings last March, however, in which eight women of Asian descent were murdered, alongside the ongoing surge of violent attacks against Asian elders, Asian American community members and allies have been tirelessly organizing on social media and in the streets to #StopAsianHate. By extension, conversations on the Asian American experience are becoming more common in popular culture. But still, the discourse on how Asian communities are affected by the climate crisis continues to be largely dismissed in a country in which environmentalism remains a movement dominated by white people.
May 13, 2021 / News Break
on Giovanna Lomanto

How Powerful Poet Giovanna Lomanto Tackles Identity, Grief, a Bruised Heart in New Work

It’s Asian Heritage Month and Indonesian Chinese American poet and UC Berkeley senior, Giovanna Lomanto, is excited to release her second collection of poetry. A native Californian and former staff member of UC Press and the Berkeley Student Cooperative, Giovanna pens poetry by night after full days of classes and homework. Her newest collection, jupiter fell out the sky last night, is dedicated to identifying what’s deep within. Her writing evokes a haunting rawness of unspoken truths and the experiences of youth. In it, she tackles identity crisis, reconciling with grief and a bruised heart, and coming to terms with fractured familial bonds. NB: How do you feel that your heritage has influenced your writing? Giovanna: My heritage has only come into poetry as of recently—strictly speaking. My heritage makes up who I am, and who I am makes my poetry, but I’m only realizing now that I have become proud enough to claim my Chinese Indonesian roots.
May 12, 2021 / The Nerd Daily
on Sarina Dahlan

Q&A: Sarina Dahlan, Author of ‘Reset’

Thought-provoking and emotionally resonant, Reset will make you consider the haunting reality of love and loss, and the indelible marks they leave behind. We chat with author Sarina Dahlan about all things Reset, as well as favourite books, writing, and so much more! Hi, Sarina! Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself? Hi! I was born in Thailand into an Indonesian family but grew up in the U.S. A natural leftie who was forced to write with my right hand as a child, I’m ambidextrous and can write backward with my left. Based on several tests, my personality can’t decide whether I’m INTP or INFP. I’m an Aquarius sun, Virgo moon, and Sagittarius rising. All of this makes being inside my head both entertaining and frustrating. Traveling is my lifeline, and prior to Covid-19, I’ve always kept my passport in my purse just in case. After I’m dead, I’d like to become a tree—ideally a Japanese maple. And I prefer tea over coffee.
May 10, 2021 / Inside Indonesia
on Wikan Satriati

Wikan Satriati (1975-2021)

The translation and publication processes for literary texts are complex and challenging for those involved. These processes are not for the faint-hearted. Translation is not a static process as each historical era fashions new emphases over time. Wikan Satriati was one who played an essential part at the beginning of the 21st century in helping to move various Indonesian language and other related language texts into that ‘splintered’ world of the English language, and its many variants. She did this with a grace and kindness of spirit. She inspired countless others, among them people of Indonesian, Australian, and other nationalities along the way. There was an understated personal radiance and there remains a radiance of spirit. We are the poorer for the loss but richer for knowing her works. May she rest in eternal peace. Innalillahi wainnaillaihi raaji’un.
May 10, 2021 / Tor.com
on Rio Johan

Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction: April 2021

This month I bring you an eccentric mix of short speculative fiction stories. Necromancy and ghosts, trauma and chronic pain, power and identity, sentient fruits and killer security units. Come for the weird, stay for the even weirder. “Mysteries of Visiocherries | Misteri Visiceri” by Rio Johan What a weird, out-of-the-blue story! Kwodvide is “one of the senior fruit engineers in the Bio-Corporation” who inadvertently develops a sentient fruit. The investigators discover a series of mysterious clues he left behind before his lab burned down and he disappeared in a fit of madness. The text is rather straightforward, and examples of Kwodvide’s codes are interspersed throughout. This is part of a forthcoming collection of short stories, Rekayasa Buah (Fruit Engineering), all about, well, fruit engineering. Color me intrigued! Samovar (April 26, 2021)