Book Stories

Stella prize 2021: finalists ‘span the gamut’ of human enterprise and experience

Mar 04, 2021 / Stone Sky Gold Mountain The Wandering
A slew of debut works feature among the finalists in the 2021 Stella prize. The longlist for the annual literary award for Australian female and non-binary writers was announced on Thursday evening. Short fiction, a collection of essays, and a novel translated from Indonesian to English (Intan Paramaditha’s The Wandering) are among the longlist nominations.

Rahasia Salinem

Mar 03, 2021 / Rahasia Salinem
It’s honestly not an easy book to make a review of, not because I’ve never heard of the writers before, nor is it because I wasn’t aware of its existence (I blame it on my lack of exposure to publishers other than the major ones). It’s simply because Rahasia Salinem is just too good to start to write about. Yes, this might have something to do with subjectivity (the cultural background being Javanese and the setting being in Sukoharjo, exactly where I live in), but on the other hand, and despite whatever identity the reader has and wherever they live, this book has one of the best stories I’ve ever read with one of the best (female) characters I’ve ever encountered. It’s not about choosing love over the other, it’s about choosing “what kind of love” you want to keep for the rest of your life.

The Book of Jakarta – Edited by Maesy Ang & Teddy W. Kusuma

Feb 06, 2021 / The Book of Jakarta: A City in Short Fiction
Jakarta, the city I used to call home for over a decade, is now out of reach for me. I have struggled with homesickness ever since I – voluntarily – relocated to Berlin in March 2018, but this feeling was amplified over the last year: since the pandemic took hold of our lives, getting on an airplane and traveling to the other side of the world is simply not in the cards. The cold and grey winter in Berlin doesn’t exactly help either. I have taken comfort in the fact that I can still connect with my family and friends via WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype or one of the many other online options (or even by sending letters and postcards via snail mail), and I am grateful for that.

‘Hunting for Muhammad’: Feby Indirani seeks to transcend political polarization

Jan 24, 2021 / Memburu Muhammad
Feby Indirani has distinguished herself as an author who is capable of presenting the lives of Indonesian Muslims through an intimate and sympathetic eye. Although her short stories, particularly the ones published in her debut anthology Bukan Perawan Maria (Not the Virgin Mary, 2017), also tackle the tricky issue of Islamic fundamentalism, she is able to capture the complex nuances of the Muslim fundamentalists' lives.  The stories in the first anthology consist of various tales, ranging from a woman who realizes she has lost her nose after wearing a niqab for quite a long time to a very devout Muslim who is shocked upon being questioned by angels in his native language instead of in Arabic.

Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2021: Debuts and Female voices dominate Longlist

Jan 22, 2021 / Rendang
The international longlist for one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers – the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize – is announced today, featuring a record number of nine debut writers.

The Book of Jakarta

Jan 22, 2021 / The Book of Jakarta: A City in Short Fiction
‘The heart of the city was still beating, even though it’s body had been paralysed’. I’ve always wondered what it meant to describe a city as being ‘alive’. Off the top of my head I think of a pre-pandemic Friday night in Soho! But what gives a city its energy, its lifeblood, its power; what gives it its ‘heart’? The Book of Jakarta - a collection of short stories centered around the Indonesian capital - attempts to answer this question through its exploration of city life from a variety of perspectives and voices.

Announcing The 2021 PEN America Literary Grant Winners

Jan 21, 2021 / 24 Jam Bersama Gaspar: Sebuah Cerita Detektif
Now in their 18th year, the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants promote the publication and reception of translated world literature into English. Established by a gift from Priscilla and Michael Henry Heim in response to the dismayingly low number of literary translations appearing in English, the fund has supported almost 200 projects. For the 2021 cycle, the judges reviewed 348 eligible applications from a wide array of languages of origin, genres, and time periods. Selected from this vast field of applicants are 10 projects, including Serbian, French, Nepali, Bulgarian, Icelandic, Hindi, and more, and each translator will receive a grant of $3,575 to support the translation’s completion.

Women’s Suppression and Resistance through Literature

Jan 20, 2021 / Bagaimana Cara Mengatakan “Tidak”?
A mother takes her daughter, a six grader to an elementary school one early morning. Instead of seeing her daughter again at home after school, the child went missing and was found dead, naked and with severe injuries around her genital several days later. The teachers in that school state that this girl was sexually harassed and murdered. The perpetrator is none other than one of the construction workers that they hired to construct a new building in that school. Following the incident, learning activities were suspended. There was also no police report and no news reported of this in the media. Some do not call this murder a tragedy but as kesialan perempuan – a bad luck of being a woman. This is what they say: “ Dina…pernah berkata bahwa selain menstruasi dan melahirkan, setiap perempuan dalam hidupnya pasti akan mengalami perbuatan tidak menyenangkan dari laki-laki. Ia menyebutnya sebagai “kesialan perempuan”: mulai dari disentuh dengan sengaja di payudara, paha, atau bokong, dicium paksa di pipi atau bibir, dipeluk tiba-tiba, dipaksa memegang atau melihat penis, hingga yang paling buruk seperti pemerkosaan.”

Lockdown Literature

Jan 16, 2021 / Before Dawn: The Poetry of Sapardi Djoko Damono The Wandering
If you’re living in a country, city or region that has enforced a strict lockdown, I hope you’re hanging in there. Sometimes, I can’t seem to remember what “normal” feels like – to be fair, I have always been a couch potato, but to not even have the option to go to the movies, a restaurant, the museum or the theatre is something else entirely. While we are encouraged (or forced) to stay at home, at least our minds can travel freely. The magic of books and literature allows us to do just that: they let our thoughts roam freely and wildly, help us embark on imaginary adventures and dive into worlds both familiar and unknown. My book purchases went through the roof over these past few months, and the pile of novels on my nightstand that I have labelled “to read” keeps growing. But even though I find it extremely exciting to discover new books and authors, I sometimes also seek comfort in re-reading stories I have fallen in love with a long time ago.

The Book of Jakarta

Jan 15, 2021 /
The Book of Jakarta is the latest addition to the Reading the City series from Comma Press, presenting ten short stories based in the Indonesian capital. The stories that make up the collection share connected ideals, but each still offers a unique perspective on Jakarta, ranging from the political to the environmental, uncertain futures to seedy realities.