What Media Says

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

Jul 30, 2007 / Inside Indonesia
on Y. B. Mangunwijaya

Romo Mangun

Yusuf Bilyarta Mangunwijaya was born on 6 May 1929 in Ambarawa, Central Java, from Catholic parents. At the age of sixteen, during the revolution for independence from the Dutch, he joined the Student Army. The troops' callousness towards the villagers shocked him. In 1950, after hearing a speech by Major Isman about the harmful effects of the revolution on civilians, he decided to repay his debt by serving the people as a priest.
Jul 22, 2007 / Inside Indonesia
on Mochtar Lubis

Mochtar Lubis

By any measure, Mochtar Lubis was impressive. A mostly self-educated Mandailinger, he was tall, handsome, urbane, and articulate in several languages. Always controversial, Mochtar was one of Indonesia’s most respected journalists and best-known authors for over four decades. His uncompromising journalistic style, his several substantial periods of political detention, his considerable literary skills and his extensive international connections, all earned him a colourful reputation, at home and abroad. He was an extremely deft ‘cultural broker’, explaining Indonesia to the West, and interpreting Western ideas for his own community.
Jul 19, 2007 / Personal Blog
on Hamid Jabbar

Obituary Hamid Jabbar(1949-2004)

The literary magazine Horison, July 2004 edition, published a special report “In Memoriam Hamid Jabbar”. His colleagues and close friends like Taufiq Ismail, Emha Ainun Nadjib, Cecep Syamsul Hari, Rahman Arge, Berthold Damshauser, Wilson Nadeak, and Slamet Sukirnanto wrote their notes on the obituary of the late poet who was born in Koto Gadang, Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, on July 27, 1949. It is a bit strange that his poems were not included nor discussed in Harry Aveling’s Rahasia Membutuhkan Kata: Puisi Indonesia 1966-1998 (2003) [Secret Needs Words: Indonesian Poetries1966-1998] or in Sapardi Djoko Damono’s Sihir Rendra: Permainan Makna (1999) [TheMagic of Rendra: Playing with Meanings]. However, his works had been published in Horison Sastra Indonesia: Kitab Puisi (2003) [The Horizon of Indonesian Poetries] and Ketika Kata Ketika Warna (1995) [When Words When Colors] which he edited together with Taufiq Ismail and other poets. I don’t really know why Hamid Jabbar’s poems were not discussed by Harry Aveling, who analyzed Indonesian poetries in the New Order era with a political perspective. Yet, in 1998 Hamid Jabbar published an anthology called Super Hilang: Segerobak Sajak [Super Disappearing: A Bunch of Poems], which had won awards from Yayasan Buku Utama and Pusat Bahasa. The social criticism loaded in that anthology is relatively sharp, like in “Proklamasi 2” or “Indonesiaku”. There are two possibilities whyHarry Aveling did not discuss Hamid Jabbar’s works. First, he didn’t have access to Hamid Jabbar’s poems. Second, the poems did not fulfill his literary taste.
Jul 15, 2007 / Inside Indonesia
on Rendra, W. S.

Rendra speaks

Indonesian master poet, dramatist, and cultural statesman Rendra toured Australia during September and October 2005. It was his first visit to Australia since 1992. Much has changed since then in the two countries: in Indonesia the New Order has fallen under the pressure of reformasi; in Australia the Labor Party has lost office to the Liberals under John Howard. Bilateral relations have suffered from the impact of Australia’s perceived role in East Timor, terrorism and continued travel warnings, Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine, and the Bali bombings. The second attack occurred one week into ­Rendra’s poetry tour. Rendra was accompanied by his wife Ken Zuraida, who read poems with Rendra, and Sawung Jabo, who played gamelan percussion to some of the poems. They performed in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane. The poems dated from 1957 to 2003, and included old favourites such as Tokek dan Adipati Rangkas Bitung (The Gecko and the Rangkas Bitung District Head) and new ones highlighting the impact of state indifference and violence against women, such as Jangan Takut Ibu(Don’t Be Scared Mother). Rendra also spoke to packed Indonesia study groups on the evolution of ­Indonesia’s future and of Indonesia’s perceptions of Australia, and drama students were drawn to his drama workshop in Sydney. Suzan Piper interviewed Rendra towards the end of his tour.
Jul 14, 2007 / Inside Indonesia
on Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Writing to the world

With the death of Pramoedya Ananta Toer, world literature mourns one of its greatest writers. Within Indonesia and internationally, obituaries, memorials, and reflections have already awarded him the posthumous recognition as a writer of world literature that was denied him during his lifetime, in the form of the Nobel Prize for Literature. It will take much longer, however, to come to terms with the full significance of Pramoedya’s achievements, from the early stories about the period of the Indonesian independence struggle up to the monumental historical novels that emerged from the period of his internment on Buru Island under Suharto’s New Order. Encompassing both the formation and the dismantling of Third World revolutionary nationalism, Pramoedya’s personal, literary, and historical experience registers the seismic shock-effects of twentieth century decolonisation.
Apr 01, 2007 / J STOR
on Ayu Utami

Reading Ayu Utami: Notes toward a Study of Trauma and the Archive in Indonesia

Evaluating postcolonial novels as situated testimonies, this essay looks at the way violence and trauma haunt Indonesian historical and literary archives in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. I show how literary works offer ...
Mar 18, 2007 / South China Morning Post
on Laksmi Pamuntjak

Laksmi’s international musings frame the colour of Indonesian life

It's easy to think that writing literature is merely Laksmi Pamuntjak's latest quest in life. After all, she has transformed herself from being a classical pianist to a political columnist, food critic and founder of a chic English-language bookstore in Jakarta. Yet the Indonesian author, who writes in English, has created quite a literary buzz. Laksmi's work sets her apart from many young Indonesian authors. The 35-year-old delves into a vast range of topics: food, music, politics and mythology, from culinary and cultural critique, to fine art and fiction.
Sep 14, 2006 / Indonesia Southeast Asia And International Affairs, USYD
on Joesoef Isak

On Joesoef Isak

Joesoef Isak was one of three men who founded a publishing company in 1980 called Hasta Mitra. All three had been political prisoners for at least ten years under the Suharto dictatorship and all three had been prominent intellectuals, publishers and journalists before they were arrested. I got to know all three while they were preparing to publish their first books, the novels of Indonesia’s great writer, Pramoedya Ananta Toer – novels he had written while on the prison island of Buru, in eastern Indonesia. I became translator of the first four of these novels published in Indonesia, all of which were banned soon after they were published. These were This Earth of Mankind, Child of All Nations, Footsteps and Glass House. This Earth of Mankind is now in its thirteenth printing in English.
Aug 08, 2006 / Indonesia Southeast Asia And International Affairs, USYD
on Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Pramoedya commemoration in Jakarta

The Goethe Institute in Sam Ratulangi Street, Jakarta was packed out as at least 400 people gathered to commemorate the life and work of Pramoedya Ananta Toer on the occasion of 100 days since his passing away. The event was organized by Yayasan Penelitian Korban Politik 1965 (YPKP – Foundation for Research into the Political Victims of 1965) of which Pramoedya was a member. The commemoration, which was held in the evening, followed an extended discussion in the afternoon of a new book by Pramoedya’s brother, Koesalah Soebagyo Toer, Pramoedya Ananta Toer – from very close up. The discussion was an occasion for people to exchange reminiscences and assessments of Pramoedya as they knew him. There was a dynamic mix of people there: from the old pre-1965 Left, communists and Soekarnoists; activists from the contemporary Left, the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD), the Institute for Global Justice (IGJ), Praxis and a range of others – probably more than I recognized, There was also just a mix of people who had read Pram, his readers, a steadily growing constituency from all kinds of backgrounds, young and old, rich and poor. The reach of Pramoedya’s works grows steadily and the size of gatherings of his readers are only held back by the limited funds to advertise events.
Jun 17, 2006 / Qantara
on Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Indonesian Author Leaves Blueprint for Pluralism

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, once considered Asia’s most promising candidate for a Nobel Prize in literature, has recently died, aged 81, still unknown to many in his homeland. The great writer is now in danger of ...