Book Stories

Indonesian tale of love, war and independence debuts at Florey’s

Feb 04, 2014 / Potions and Paper Cranes
“Sulis is a young woman selling potions in Surabaya’s harbor district,” reads the jacket synopsis of Lan Fang’s “Potions and Paper Cranes.” “She meets Sujono, a coolie with dreams of becoming a freedom fighter and whose passion for Matsumi, a geisha called to Java by a Japanese general, is destined to ruin all of them. In ‘Potions and Paper Cranes,’ each tells the story of their lives during the end of WWII and Indonesia’s transition from a Dutch colony to an independent republic.” On Saturday, the book’s U.S. publisher will be on hand at Florey’s to present and discuss the late author’s work.

Saman’s Struggle For Meaning In Ayu Utami’s Saman: A Psychoexistentialism Perspective

Jan 30, 2014 / Saman Saman: A Novel
In any condition of life, people always search for meaning to give their life goal to direction and they will do anything for it. Meaning is individual and may change. As an imitation of life, ...

Okky Madasari Maryam

Jan 23, 2014 / Maryam
Maryam is one of several novels and films that address the matters of religious freedom, religious violence and religious pluralism (films include Tanda Tanya and Cin(t)a). The discourses of literature and film offer an alternative ...

Review: Pasung Jiwa by Okky Madasari

Jan 11, 2014 / Pasung Jiwa
In Indonesia, in Jakarta for exact, spotting transgenders as street singers is a common thing. But not just looking at their particular fashion style and dance moves, their lives and self-battle will be another interesting ...

Voices from the unheard

Jan 04, 2014 / Pulang
Leila S. Chudori’s novel Pulang is an important addition to a growing literature examining the events of 1965-66 and its aftermath. In a recent Tempo article, Goenawan Mohamad described 1965 as ‘a kind of code … for a catastrophic occurrence – and because of this, always simplified.’ He went on to observe that 2012 seemed to be a year of remembering, or imagining, 1965.

Crazy times

Jan 01, 2014 / And the War Is Over
When, in the late 1960s, I set out to do my first fieldwork among the Javanese of Jogjakarta, I was struck by the reference to the period they were under Dutch rule as the zaman ...

The Emma Press Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse

Dec 12, 2013 / Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse
Emma Press’ new collection – the Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse makes me long for the days when collections of poetry were known as “treasuries”, because there are some genuine treasures to be found within ...

The Provocative Julia Suryakusuma on the Rampage

Nov 30, 2013 / Julia’s Jihad
If Australia has been blessed with excellent cartoonists, Indonesia has been similarly blessed with excellent columnists. Thanks to Jennifer Lindsay’s translations, English-speaking readers outside Indonesia can appreciate Goenawan Mohamad’s ‘Catatan Pinggir’ (Sidelines) columns from Tempo magazine.

The best books on Indonesia: start your reading here

Sep 10, 2013 / The Rainbow Troops: A Novel This Earth of Mankind (Buru Tetralogy #1)
This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer The first book in Pramoedya’s epic Buru quartet, set in the waning years of Dutch colonial rule, is a bittersweet coming-of-age novel. The narrator and central character, ...

The Rainbow Troops: A Visit with Indonesia’s Bestselling Author

Aug 30, 2013 / Laskar Pelangi (Tetralogi Laskar Pelangi #1) The Rainbow Troops: A Novel
THE COMING OF AGE ADVENTURES of a group of impoverished children in a remote island off the coast of Sumatra, may not sound like the kind of story to make the bestseller list. Yet, in Indonesia, Laskar Pelangi or The Rainbow Troops, a book about two village teachers and their rag-tag clutch of elementary school children has touched a chord, or rather, millions of chords. The book has gone on to sell five million copies, making its author, Andrea Hirata, the best selling writer of all time in the country, and the only one in recent history to enjoy international success. Translated into 21 languages, The Rainbow Troops is now available in 87 countries and made its US debut earlier this year.