A New World, A New Self

Works in Translation


Agustinus Wibowo, translated by Ninus Andarnuswari
Published as a part of Asian Literature Project “YOMU”, Jan 18, 2022

Originally published as Dunia Baru, Diri yang Baru.


We entered a strange new world. The year 2020 had been off to a great start. The Tokyo Olympics and the Dubai World Expo had been vaunted to be spectacular. Airports in Singapore, London, and Doha had been bustling. Prospective travelers had been enthusiastic about vacation plans. When the news broke of a mysterious respiratory disease outbreak in a city in China, most people in other parts of the world paid no mind.

I knew, though, it wasn’t just an outbreak. I had experienced a coronavirus outbreak before, when Beijing was hit by SARS in 2003. It was as the city’s very air were shrouded by vicious, life-threatening viruses. The Chinese government immediately took extreme measures that seemed to be a typical solution for the nation that built the Great Wall. They fortified “walls”, confining cities, offices, schools, and housing complexes. The lockdown proved effective in shelving SARS into history in just a matter of months.

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