What Media Says

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

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)
Apr 30, 2021 / Latitudes
on Sitor Situmorang

In Search of a Lost Fatherland (2) Rudy Kousbroek and Sitor Situmorang about Sumatra

After a stay of more than 30 years in Sumatra, I became attached to the country. In 1990 I came to Medan as a teacher of European history, the students were curious about the European story and I about that of Sumatra. I have had endless conversations with the Batak from the highlands, with the Malays from the coastal regions, Minangkabau from West Sumatra, with Javanese and ethnic Chinese Indonesians. In addition, I met countless Dutch people who were looking for the places of their youth, their parents or grandparents. The Indonesians look ahead, to the future, how to rebuild the country, many Dutch came here precisely because of the history with their nostalgic memories.
Apr 18, 2021 / Latitudes
on Sitor Situmorang

In Search of a Lost Fatherland (1) Rudy Kousbroek and Sitor Situmorang about Sumatra

Few knew how to describe the atmosphere as well as Rudy Kousbroek and Sitor Situmorang, a Dutchman and an Indonesian. Two writers, of the same generation, both from Sumatra. One born in the village of Harianboho near Lake Toba, the other in Pematang Siantar. They were born in Indonesia and knew the country and the culture from childhood, they wrote their story “from the inside out”, as it were, which gave their description even more depth. In their youth they never met, in later years they became friends, it was remarkable how much appreciation they had for each other. Kousbroek wrote rave reviews about Situmorang’s oeuvre and the latter dedicated a poem to Rudy Kousbroek for his 70th birthday. Now they have both passed away, Rudy Kousbroek in 2010 and Sitor Situmorang in 2014. But they live on in their work.
Apr 16, 2021 / NOW!Jakarta
on Leila S. Chudori Rain Chudori

Writing the Book on Mother-Daughter Relationships

Mothers and daughters can have complex and difficult relationships, but Leila and Rain Chudori have reached a level of mutual understanding that has helped them to be extremely appreciative of one another – after all, they are both writers and share a love for literature. “We have a very open, lively relationship,” Rain says. “It doesn’t feel like a conventional mother-daughter relationship. There are times when we definitely feel like friends with a considerable age gap.” Sometimes, she adds, they jokingly wonder whether they would be friends if they were the same age – they are both not sure about the right answer to this question, as they have very different characters.
Apr 12, 2021 / Tempo English
on Julia Suryakusuma

Julia and Feminism

Julia Suryakusuma received an award from the Kingdom of Belgium for her struggle to voice human rights through writing. She is uncomfortable with being called a feminist. "JULIA, have you ever been decorated?" asked the Belgian Ambassador to Indonesia, Stephane de Loecker, to Julia Suryakusuma in early 2020. Hearing the word "decorated", she imagined rows of colorful lights. Jokingly, Julia answered her friend's question."You mean decorated like a Christmas tree?", said Julia, recounting her conversation with De Loecker, last Tuesday, April 6.