Book Stories

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.

Two Contemporary Indonesian Women Writers

Aug 15, 2013 / Saman Saman: A Novel Supernova: The Knight, the Princess and the Falling Star
Ayu Utami, Saman, 1998. English translation by Pamela Allen, 2005. Dewi Lestari, Supernova, 2001. English translation by Harry Aveling, 2010. Two gay men resolve to mark their tenth anniversary by writing a novel that bridges ...

Julia’s War On Almost Everything

Jun 30, 2013 / Julia’s Jihad
When Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came to power in 2004, the general consensus was that he was the best thing to happen to Indonesia since the fall of Soeharto. Today, it is hard to find anyone with much praise for SBY. Many Indonesians are yearning for a '€œstrong-man'€ president and believe that ex-general Prabowo Subianto, whose troops oversaw the abduction, torture and '€œdisappearance'€ of pro-democracy activists, is the best man for the job.

Jazz, Perfume and the Incident by Seno Gumira Ajidarma

Jun 01, 2013 / Jazz, Perfume & the Incident
Ostensibly from its title you’d think this is a book of light-hearted short stories, but this is decidedly not the case. The unorthodox structure of this supposedly cosmopolitan novel is a disguise. The searing emotional thrust of Jazz, Perfume & The Incident centers around one of the most shameful episodes in Indonesia’s modern history – the infamous massacre of civilians in Dili, the capital of East Timor. Euphemistically known as The Dili Incident, you need a strong stomach to read the eight depressing chapters entitled “Report on the Incident” nos. 1, 2, 3, etc.