Seno Gumira Ajidarma and Fictional Resistance to an Authoritarian State in 1990s Indonesia

Papers (in PDF)


By Michael Bodden on Seno Gumira Ajidarma
Published in Southeast Asia Program Publications at Cornell University,
Oct 01, 1999

During the 1990s, Seno Gumira Ajidarma has emerged as perhaps the preeminent fiction writer of the Indonesian younger generation. He is certainly one of the most productive. Since 1993 he has published six collections of short stories, a highly experimental novel, and a collection of essays on journalism, literature, and politics. He can also be regarded as one of the more courageous of the younger writers. Many of his works touching on sensitive social and political problems, especially those dealing with East Timor—Saksi Mata (Eye Witness or “Witness of the Eyes”1), and Jazz, Parfum dan Insiden (Jazz, Perfume, and an Incident”2)—were published prior to Suharto’s ouster, in an atmosphere in which banning was still very much a possibility, though social pressure and struggle were gradually forcing the government grudgingly to concede more freedom of expression.3 Saksi Mata and Jazz, Parfum dan Insiden, in particular, have earned Seno considerable respect among his contemporaries, activists, and the current generation of students.

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