Book Stories

Our best Filipino books of 2020

Dec 29, 2020 / Aku Ingin Jadi Peluru (Kumpulan Puisi)
Here, we asked a few critics, writers, and publishers to give us some of their best or favorite reads of 2020. — Don Jaucian KRISTINE ONG MUSLIM, writer “Balada ng Bala at iba pang mga tula” is a 200-page volume of poems by Wiji Thukul, an Indonesian labor organizer and a desaparecido of the US-backed Suharto regime. The poems, edited and translated into Filipino by Mark Laurence D. Garcia and Amado Anthony G. Mendoza III, were written and published in the span of at least a decade. No greasy conceits of hagiography soiled the editors’ introduction. Expect a thoughtful contextualization that situates the recurring themes in Thukul’s body of work in the Philippines, where the Duterte regime — in the guise of an anti-insurgency, anti-terrorism campaign — is arresting or killing dissenters. Expect a compelling dissection that shows how Thukul’s political struggles had shaped his art — and not the other way around.

Literary Postmodern Perspective in “Will Badrul Mustafa Never Die”?

Dec 17, 2020 / Will Badrul Mustafa Never Die? Verse from the Front
Badrul Mustafa is considered an anti-hero who claims to be loved by everyone in society. He strives to convince one and all of his remarkable abilities—truth-bearer, hero, unrequited lover, and miracle worker—but is constantly baffled by life’s rebuffs and the futility of his self-defeating efforts. But Badrul Mustafa is not just one person. Instead, he represents an amalgam of absurd and delusional hypocrites who connive to attain power and sow communal discord. This is the “front”, the battle the author fights against the “Badrul Mustafas of all time”. Heru Joni Putra who is the author of the different poems that are in the book decides to incorporate Badrul Mustafa as a character because he symbolises many people in society. I reckon that this book is subject to literary postmodern analysis.

World Literature Today’s 75 Notable Translations of 2020

Dec 14, 2020 / Deviant Disciples
Literary translation’s 2020 story is one of abundance and adaptation. Like most books published this year, dozens of new translations were published during a global pandemic. Events quickly moved from bookstores to Zoom. Writers and translators adapted, participating in virtual book tours, online conversations, Facebook live readings, and even virtual literary festivals. We gathered online to celebrate these new English translations and receive the community and comfort we could find there.

The Struggles of the Kretek Workers in Iksaka Banu’s Novel, Sang Raja (The King)

Dec 13, 2020 / Sang Raja
The novel Sang Raja was written by Iksaka Banu. This novel shows the struggles of people who worked in Bal Tiga kretek cigarette factory in Kudus in the early 1900s, during the Dutch colonial era. The problem in this research is how the efforts of the people who worked in Bal Tiga kretek cigarette factory sustain the life of the factory. The research objective is to analyze and study the struggles of the workers in the kretek cigarette factory in their effort to sustain Bal Tiga kretek cigarette factory. This research is a qualitative research, employing the descriptive analysis method through the intrinsic (character and setting) and extrinsic (sociology of literature and history) approaches. The kretek cigarette workers formulated various strategies and promotions to help their factory to overcome competition among cigarette factories. In addition, the tobacco harvest failure in Zanzibar and Madagascar had a major impact on the world economy. Bal Tiga kretek cigarette factory in Kudus felt the brunt of this crisis. However, after the economic crisis had passed, the people in Kudus returned to work in kretek cigarette factories enthusiastically. The results of the study show the values of humanity of the struggles of the kretek workers.

5 Food Novels by Southeast Asian Women Writers

Dec 09, 2020 / The Birdwoman’s Palate
“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Francis Bacon’s familiar maxim, about the degrees with which a reader might interact with a book, takes a renewed meaning in light of food literature. This particular category of texts has gone under many names: gastronomic novels, culinary fiction, books that cook, la fiction gourmande, or quite simply, food fiction. But the one aspect that distinguishes it, no matter the appellation, is its urgent concern with food, eating or cooking. Below are five examples of novels written by Southeast Asian women writers that explore the language of food. In their work, food acts as a theme or a symbol that represents the novel’s underlying message.

UK publisher to launch portraits of Jakarta in fiction anthology

Nov 27, 2020 / The Book of Jakarta: A City in Short Fiction
Every person who has been lucky enough to taste chaotic yet enchanting Jakarta would agree that the city is crammed with interesting stories. Open your window anywhere in the city and you will immediately find romance, horror, comedy, drama or anything in between waiting to be written down. UK-based publisher Comma Press has seized this opportunity by publishing an anthology of short stories with Jakarta as the setting, as part of its critically acclaimed Reading the City series.

Indonesia’s Years of Violence

Nov 10, 2020 / Romantisme Tahun Kekerasan
Indonesian writer Martin Aleida lived and wrote through a dark chapter of Indonesia’s history. His new memoir, "Romanticism in the Years of Violence", sheds new light on the oppression and stigma faced by journalists in Indonesia in the 1960s.

Putu Oka and Goenawan

Nov 10, 2020 / Romantisme Tahun Kekerasan
Putu Oka Sukanta and Goenawan Muhammad reflect on Indonesia's Years of Violence and their friendship with Martin Aleida. Supplementary material for "Indonesia's Years of Violence". The following two interviews with Putu Oka Sukanta and Goenawan Muhammad were conducted online in succession Wednesday 27 May 2020 and should be read to supplement Warief Djajanto Basorie’s review of Romanticism in the Years of Violence, a Memoir of Martin Aleida. The interviews were conducted in Indonesia and all translations are the author’s.

How Asian film is making moves to take over from Hollywood

Nov 10, 2020 / Dial A for Aunties
When Indonesian author Jesse Q Sutanto landed a book deal for her novel, Dial A for Aunties, she hadn't anticipated the film rights immediately being snapped up by Netflix. The Jakarta-based author describes her debut as 'Crazy Rich Asians meets Weekend at Bernies'. She says the tale - about a wedding photographer who accidentally kills off her blind date and then hides the body during an Indonesian society wedding - came along at just the right time. "Everyone was in need to cheering up, because of lockdown. The over-the-top plot, and the ridiculousness of a dead body and a big wedding is such great escapism. Chinese-Indonesian weddings are amazing, they can have an average of 2,000 guests - my heroine has to hide the body with the help of her mum and aunties." Sutanto will executive produce the film, which is directed by Nahnatchka Khan, who made Fresh off the Boat, a TV series about Taiwanese immigrants adjusting to life in the US.

Sepasang Sepatu Tua: Sepilihan Cerpen

Nov 01, 2020 / Sepasang Sepatu Tua
Sapardi Djoko Damono’s Sepasang Sepatu Tua might have just been released last year, but the contents are surprisingly not new. Most of them are recognizably included in the short story collection Pada Suatu Hari, Malam Wabah; so Mr. Sapardi’s readers might get the feeling of reading the “same” book twice coming from different publishers. The reason behind this decision to republish many of the same contents over a short period of time was not known, unless one wants to speculate the later publisher merely intended to use the late senior writer’s popularity to boost their sell, for this was not the first time they―or any other publisher―did so with senior writers’ old works.