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Putu Oka Sukanta and the Hidden Wounds of World History

What Media Says

In this article: Putu Oka Sukanta

Written by Lara Norgaard, and was originally published in Asymptote

Jan 16, 2020

Putu Oka Sukanta does not fit the western image of a celebrated author. The writer lives in a simple house, tucked away on a surprisingly calm alley in industrial East Jakarta. He receives journalists and fellow writers in his home and writing space, which doubles as a traditional medicine organization and an acupuncture studio. It is not the kind of office with book-lined shelves and a large desk piled high with papers and poetic scraps; instead, herbal treatments line the counter by the front door and a large acupuncture table dwarfs a simple writing desk. I visited Putu Oka shortly after his eightieth birthday to ask the author for reflections on his literary career. He gave me a firm handshake when I sat down across from him. “So what is it that you need from me?” His question, straightforward and gentle, could almost have been an inquiry about a health issue rather than the beginning of my interview. It may have been a little bit of both. Prolific but under-recognized, Putu Oka writes so as to heal his nation’s collective trauma. His representations of personal experiences as a political prisoner address painful histories that Indonesia has too long kept quiet. And for foreign readers, his texts have the potential to act as a multifaceted diagnosis of the country’s complex past and present.

Read the full article here.

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