Book Stories

Driven by design: Indie publishers bring back love for physical books

Aug 30, 2021 / Further Reading Print No.2: Boundaries
Arya was 12 when he received his first book, a pirated copy of Andrea Hirata’s 2005 novel Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops), which in 2008 was adapted into a hit film. It began his love affair with reading and the 25-year-old translator’s passion for collecting books. But as the internet and e-books became more common, Arya’s book-buying habit dwindled. Unless it was a title particularly “worth collecting”, he would opt to purchase the e-book version via Amazon’s e-reader gadget Kindle. It boils down to practicality; e-books were cheaper and would take up no physical space. Other than nostalgia, there were simply fewer compelling reasons to keep spending money on physical books. The design and layout of most physical books were straightforward, so why pay more only for it to gather dust? With e-books, bad presentation mattered less. After all, it was all about the content, not the collectability factor.

Grim romance: Eka Kurniawan on ill-fated characters and writing what he knows

Aug 11, 2021 / Sumur: Sebuah Cerita
Having originally been written in Indonesian, Sumur was first published in September of 2020 in English as The Well, as a part of the Penguin Books’ anthology Tales of Two Planets. Its Indonesian version has now been released in Indonesia, via publisher PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama. The novella is limited edition, with only 2000 copies printed. A bookmark accompanying the book states: “This book will only be printed once. One day it will be a rare item.”

Indonesian Director Edwin Talks Sex, Violence and Dictatorship in ‘Vengeance Is Mine’

Aug 06, 2021 / Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash
The latest film from the South-Asian auteur, which premieres at the Locarno Film Festival, is both a tribute to and a subversion of the ultra-violent revenge movies that he grew up on in Indonesia in the 1980s and 1990s. Edwin has a knack for a catchy title. The first short from the Indonesian auteur, who goes by the singular moniker, was Kara, the Daughter of a Tree. It premiered in Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight section in 2005. Edwin’s debut feature was called Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly, a Fipresci international film critics’ award winner in Rotterdam in 2009. His follow-up was Postcards From the Zoo, a Berlin competition entry in 2012. But, title-wise, Edwin has outdone himself. His latest feature, which premieres on Sunday at the Locarno Film Festival in its Concorso Internazionale sidebar bears the straight-outta-B-movie rubric: Vengeance Is Mine. All Others Pay Cash.

11 Translated Books by Asian Women Writers to Read This #WITMonth

Aug 05, 2021 / Nirzona (A Love Story)
Happy #WITMonth! To celebrate this special occasion, we've chosen eleven books you won't want to miss by some of our favorite Asian women writers in the WWB archives. From Indonesia, Macau, Vietnam, India, and more, these titles range across genres and themes, delving into questions of migration, coming of age, family, politics, and much more. While this list is by no means comprehensive, we hope it will inspire you as you plan your reading list for #WITMonth and beyond. Nirzona: A Love Story by Abidah El Khalieqy, translated from Indonesian by Annie Tucker The author of a dozen books, Abidah El Khalieqy often spotlights female characters whose voices may be marginalized in Indonesia, particularly those who have experienced polygamy or domestic violence. Her novel Nirzona: A Love Story, translated by Annie Tucker, follows a couple who are separated in the wake of the tsunami that struck Indonesia in 2004.

Saman by Ayu Utami

Jun 28, 2021 / Saman: A Novel
In the ten years since I set out to read the world, I have interacted with thousands of book lovers, writers, academics and curious readers around the globe. Many of the most illuminating of these discussions have been with translators – people who, by virtue of having expertise in two or more languages and extensive experience working on texts, are able to shed light on how books travel and what comes into English, and often draw my attention to gems that would otherwise pass me by.

A Clear Dawn: The voices breaking into New Zealand literature

May 12, 2021 / A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand
“Like writing, identity is an ongoing act of discovery. So is reading.” The words that open the new anthology A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand are a promise for the rest of the book, the first-ever anthology of Asian-New Zealand writing. “I think, you know, the name of the anthology - A Clear Dawn - is really a dawn. It's the beginning.” writer and co-editor of the book, Alison Wong, says. Wong and author Paula Morris (Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Manuhiri, Ngai Whatua) edited the collection, bringing poetry, short stories, novel excerpts, and creative nonfiction from 75 different people.

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

May 10, 2021 / Dial A for Aunties
Chinese-Indonesian, US-based Meddelin Chan finds herself in an impossible situation: after she accidentally kills her blind date in self-defense, her mother brings in reinforcements to help get rid of the body: her three sisters, Meddie’s aunties. But how can they cover up a murder and prepare a lavish wedding the next day – the biggest job their family business has ever landed?

Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with this diverse collection of 5 recent novels

May 05, 2021 / The Majesties
This year, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is sure to attract more readers and listeners than usual, moved by anti-Asian racism and harmful acts to attend the voices and experiences of AAPI authors. Here are just a few of the dozens of recent novels that reflect the growing diversity of AAPI stories being told today.

Sergius Mencari Bacchus

May 05, 2021 / Sergius Mencari Bacchus
Some writings can truly have devastating effects on the reader, and Sergius Mencari Bacchus (officially translated into English as Sergius Seeks Bacchus by Tiffany Tsao) is one of those. Every word, every line, every verse Norman Erikson Pasaribu penned down on this poetry collection not only sound, but feel so painful. You might get your heart wrenched brutrally reading every piece of poem on the list, whether or not you feel related to the issues being discussed. This book doesn’t only talk about being different, or how to deal with it and people’s general lack of approval. It talks mostly about the pain, the dilemma, the acceptance of oneself as a homosexual when the family―and the society―see it as a sin, a sickness to be cured, and thus expel them to the lonely corner where they are forced to feel weird about themselves and try to figure out what they should be.

Q&A: Jesse Q. Sutanto, Author of ‘Dial A For Aunties’

Apr 27, 2021 / Dial A for Aunties
Dial A For Aunties is a hilariously quirky novel that is equal parts murder mystery, rom-com, and a celebration of mothers and daughters as well as a deep dive into Chinese-Indonesian culture by author Jesse Q. Sutanto. We chat with Jesse about her latest release Dial A For Aunties, releasing her first two published novels in the space of a few months, writing, book recommendations, and more! Hi, Jesse! Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself? Hi! I’m Jesse, author of Dial A For Aunties and the YA thriller The Obsession. I’m an Indonesian writer living in Jakarta with my ridiculously huge family. My hobbies include…psych! I don’t have hobbies because all my time is spent writing or looking after my two little ones, lol.