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Re-Reading WS Rendra’s ‘Perjuangan Suku Naga’ (The Struggle Of The Naga Tribe)

A retrospective essay on Indonesia’s greatest poet and playwright during the time of President Suharto. “You got to have patience. Why Tom, us people will go on livin’ when all them people is gone ….. Rich fellas come up an’ they die, an’ their kids ain’t no good an’ they die out. But we keep … [Read more...]

The Literary Canon Today, Part 3: The State Of Publishing Canonical Literature

Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. – Cassio (Othello, Act 2, Scene 3) So far, my focus in this series of essays (see part 1 here and part 2 here) has been how we write and talk about the … [Read more...]

Seeing Fiction in an Environmental Lens

It should not be a surprise to know that fiction books can carry heavy messages within them. For instance, George Orwell’s “1984” includes issues like censorship among many, Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” touches on the damage of war, and Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” has something to say … [Read more...]

When We Became the People from Bloomington

In late March 2020, I sent a WhatsApp message to the Indonesian author Budi Darma asking him to be careful about the new virus spreading around the globe. I worried that if he contracted it, the consequences might be dire. By all reports, the elderly were especially susceptible, and he was about to … [Read more...]

From Book Review to the Canonization of Literature

If we visited a bookstore recently, we can easily get the latest literary books from new authors. Those books were written by authors who, apologetically, I know almost nothing on their writing’s history. It was like they were born this early morning, when we all slept soundly. In the world of … [Read more...]