Book Stories


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.

SESP junior Natasha Sondakh prepares to publish debut novel exploring Indonesian identity

Jan 14, 2021 / She Smells of Turmeric
In just four months, Natasha Sondakh (SESP ’22) wrote her debut novel, “She Smells of Turmeric,” while juggling classes and learning how to market her book. The fictional novel follows an Indonesian-American girl who moves to Indonesia after her father’s death. As she experiences Indonesian culture and meets new people, she soon realizes nothing is as perfect as it seems and finds herself in the process.

A Close Reading Of Eka Kurniawan’s Suspense-Building In ‘Man Tiger’

Jan 14, 2021 / Man Tiger
The closing lines of this 2016 Man Booker International Prize-nominated novel by Eka Kurniawan reads: “Marry my mother and she’ll be happy.” Anwar Sadat shook his head nervously. and his reply came out brokenly. “That’s impossible, you know I have a wife and daughters,” Something in his face said the proposition was absurd, making what he said next redundant. “Besides, I don’t love your mother.” That was when the tiger came out of Margio, white as swan. (pg, 172) The story of divining and possession, set in the 1950s post-Soekarno Indonesia, about how a young man murdered an old man who was entangled in an all-too-common extra-marital affair began with a simple yet, profound line of storytelling: “On the evening Margio killed Anwar Sadat, Kyai Jahro was blissfully busy with his fishpond.” (pg. 1) In the following paragraphs, I shall discuss Eka Kurniawan’s craft of opening and closing the story and how he built the plot and use the element of suspense.

Review: The Book of Jakarta

Jan 07, 2021 / The Book of Jakarta: A City in Short Fiction
What do you know about Jakarta, or Indonesia? If the answer is “not much” then you should definitely pick up this collection of short stories. And if the answer is “a lot, actually” well, you should read it too, you will probably relate or find some familiar elements. The Book of Jakarta is a collection of ten short stories put together by Maesy Ang and Teddy W. Kusuma, publishers and owners of an independent bookshop in Jakarta, Indonesia. The authors you will meet in the collection are Indonesian, or have lived in Jakarta at some point, or have other connections with the city.

Riot Roundup: The Best Books We Read October-December 2020

Jan 04, 2021 / Dial A for Aunties
DIAL A FOR AUNTIES BY JESSE Q. SUTANTO (BERKLEY, APRIL 27) Wrap a romcom with a crime novel, sprinkle in Weekend At Bernie’s, and you get this deliciously fun, big-hearted book. Told in past and present, we learn of lost love, hope for love found, and watch a bickering (with love) family try to dispose of a body to help one of their own during a huge wedding. It’s hilarious! No, seriously there are just the right amount of ridiculous situations to have you rooting for them to get away with “accidental murder” and hope to be adopted into this big Chinese-Indonesian family. I mean, they’re willing to help you bury a body. And run a successful wedding business while doing it. If you love romcoms (this is PERFECT for adaptation) do not miss this 2021 gem of a release.

2020: Translations from Southeast, South and West Asia

Jan 03, 2021 / The Wandering
The Wandering by Intan Paramaditha,  translated by Stephen J Epstein 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.

Book Deals: Week of January 4, 2021 – Penguin Classics Visits Darma’s ‘Bloomington’

Jan 01, 2021 / Orang-Orang Bloomington
People from Bloomington by Indonesian author Budi Darma was acquired in a world English rights deal by Elda Rotor at Penguin Classics. Jayapriya Vasudevan and Helen Mangham at Jacaranda Literary brokered the agreement for the book, a collection of seven short stories, with Indonesian publisher Noura Books. Penguin described Darma as one of his country’s “most beloved and respected living authors.” The book follows a group of characters in Bloomington, Ind., where Darma lived for a period, and, the publisher said, “blurs the boundaries between Western and Eastern literature.” Tiffany Tsao is translating the title.
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