Book Stories


Anak Semua Bangsa (Child of All Nations) – Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Jul 02, 2020 / Anak Semua Bangsa
Anak Semua Bangsa is the aftermath of Bumi Manusia, telling a story of how Minke and Nyai Ontosoroh picked up the pieces after their daughter/wife was taken away, and after their already-complicated-but-delightful life was shattered by the powerful meneer.

Leila S. Chudori: Weaving family drama into political saga

Jun 28, 2020 / The Sea Speaks His Name
Winning the 2020 Southeast Asian Writers Award for her novel Laut Bercerita (The Sea Speaks his Name), did not bring peace of mind for author and journalist Leila S. Chudori. The novel, published in December 2017 and inspired by real events, tells the story of activists who were kidnapped, tortured and forcibly disappeared during the 1998 protests leading to the downfall of the totalitarian New Order regime, as well as the aftermath for the activists’ families. The English version of Leila’s novel, translated by John H. McGlynn, was published by Penguin Random House SEA in February 2020. It has also been adapted into a 30-minute eponymous short film by director Pritagita Arianegara, starring Reza Rahadian and Dian Sastrowardoyo, among others.

“The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida” by Clarissa Goenawan

Jun 14, 2020 / The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida
University student Miwako Sumida has committed suicide and her small group of friends are caught completely off guard, yet determined to search for answers behind her death. Set mainly in Tokyo, Indonesian-born Clarissa Goenawan’s second novel, The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida, is a haunting story of friendship in young adulthood and how—even before social media—people are not often as they appear. Goenawan captures a time—1990—when Japanese young adults have few cares apart from studying and forging friendships before separating into closely defined gender roles of salarymen and office ladies. Miwako and her friends are mostly second year students at Waseda University.

Leila S. Chudori wins 2020 SEA Write Award with ‘Laut Bercerita’

Jun 13, 2020 / Laut Bercerita
Journalist and author Leila S. Chudori has been announced the Indonesian winner of the 2020 Southeast Asian Writers Award or SEA Write Award for her novel Laut Bercerita (The Sea Speaks His Name). The annual literary award is given to writers of Southeast Asia. The types of works honored range from poetry and short stories to novels, plays, folklore and religious works. First bestowed in 1979, the award aims to recognize the creativity of writers from ASEAN countries, create wider awareness and understanding of literary wealth in the region, honor and promote literary talent and bring together creative writers.

“The Wandering” by Intan Paramaditha

Jun 04, 2020 / The Wandering
The story begins in Jakarta, a hubbub of street vendors, motorbikes, and calls to prayer from mosque loudspeakers. “Travelling is the most ancient desire”, writes Intan Paramaditha in her first novel, a choose-your-own-adventure story published this February as global mobility ground to a halt. The wandering narrator, addressed in the second person befitting the conventions of the form, travels along multiple routes to Berlin, New York, and even outer space as she faces ordeals that illustrate the privileges of going abroad and the limitations of individual choice.

Teh dan Pengkhianat

May 29, 2020 / Teh dan Pengkhianat
Never or rarely do we have histories written by the opposite side of a war or, to be precise, by the enemies. There might be some, but they do not see the entire event from the opposite point of view. Historians tend to write them from their own. But that’s not what Iksaka Banu dares to do. He writes short stories about the hundreds of years of Dutch colonization of Indonesia entirely from the viewpoint of the Dutch themselves. Teh dan Pengkhianat is one of his collections that gives affirmation to this. First published in 2019, it has thirteen short pieces on what the Dutch might have thought about the colonization, the land they had been occupying, the people they had been living with, and should they have just gone away when the time had finally come.

Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash (2017) by Eka Kurniawan

May 06, 2020 / Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash
There is nothing better than opening up a new category of literature with a new country, language or perspective.  Eka Kurniawan is the first Indonesian writer I've read, and the first writer translated from Malay. Indonesia's prior presence in the western canon is mostly limited to early 20th century Dutch authors and Joseph Conrad, and I'm unaware of any other contemporary Indonesian authors translated in any language.  There is much to enjoy in Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, about an impotent street thug who has to learn to live and love in the slums of Java.   

‘Pangeran dari Timur’ chronicles the tragic life of Raden Saleh

Apr 26, 2020 / Pangeran dari Timur
Indonesian authors Iksaka Banu and Kurnia Effendi have just launched a book they co-authored, a nearly 600-page historical novel called Pangeran Dari Timur that was more than 20 years in the making. The double-plot novel that centers on the life of the great painter Raden Saleh (1811-1880) and the Indonesian intellectuals of the early 20th century is a tragic story of how colonialism and racism let Indonesia’s creative and intellectual minds down in the pre-independence era. The life and death of Raden Saleh is the anchor of the dual narrative, beginning with his artistic talents and interests emerging as a child and through the eventual expansion of his artistic abilities under his Dutch mentor, Antoine Auguste Joseph Payen.

The Books We’re Reading Now

Apr 24, 2020 / Man Tiger
Four DestinAsian editors suggest four bestselling titles to help pass the time while staying at home. Man Tiger, Eka Kurniawan I was drawn to the magic realism of Laura Esquivel and Gabriel García Márquez while in high school, and not long after relocating to Indonesia four years ago, I began to feel that my new home was fertile ground for a similar kind of fiction writing. Indonesia has a rich tradition of folklore that exerts a certain influence on modern life. Even today, there’s a deeply entrenched belief in superstition, haunted trees, inanimate objects with mystical powers, and all kinds of supernatural beings. So, when a literature-loving friend introduced me to the works of Eka Kurniawan—who has been hailed as a successor to the late and great Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer—I was immediately captivated.

9 Indonesian book translations to read on World Book Day

Apr 23, 2020 / Eyewitness: Short Story Paper Boats Sergius Seeks Bacchus The Adventures of Na Willa The Birdwoman’s Palate The Original Dream The Wandering There Is No New York Today Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash
In times when you literally cannot go anywhere beyond the confines of your house, reading has become a means of escapism for many people. Speaking of reading, we will soon celebrate the annual World Book Day on April 23, which aims "to promote the enjoyment of books and reading". According to UNESCO on its official website, the date was chosen during its General Conference, held in Paris in 1995 to pay tribute to several prominent authors who died on that date -- William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, to name a few. While some Indonesian authors such as Pramoedya Ananta Toer and YB Mangunwijaya are relatively well known by global readers, many works by contemporary writers are just beginning to gain traction as they have just been translated in recent years.