Putu Oka Sukanta brings historical memory to wider audience

All Things Books / News

About Spaces: Reflections on a Journey,
Written by Lara Norgaard, and was originally published in Jakarta Post,
Oct 11, 2019

The story starts in present-day Jakarta, on the morning of a human rights conference. An older narrator wakes up and argues with his wife as married couples do. He chats with the taxi driver on the way to the meeting hall before taking the stage.

The narrator, it becomes clear, is a former political prisoner from Soeharto’s New Order regime. As he speaks to the crowd, memories flood in. Traumatic images pull readers away from a conference room into a distant but heavy past.

“The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I heard the voices of a crowd walking along beside a number of men with their hands tied behind their backs. With them was a man brandishing a machete. Once I realized I was still on my feet, I started reading again from my notes.”

The book detailed above is Putu Oka Sukanta’s Celah, to be released in English as Spaces: Reflections on a Journey. It was translated by Keith Foulcher and published by Lontar. 

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