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Jakarta Post / All Things Books
May 24, 2024

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May 21, 2024

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May 17, 2024

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May 16, 2024

Laksmi Pamuntjak


A bilingual Indonesian novelist, poet, food writer and journalist.  She works as an art and food consultant and writes for numerous local and international publications including opinion articles for the Guardian.

She is the author of two collections of poetry (one of which, Ellipsis, appeared in the 2005 Herald UK Books of the Year pages), a treatise on the relationship between man and violence based on the Iliad; a collection of short stories based on paintings; five editions of the best-selling and award-winning Jakarta Good Food Guide; two translations of the works of Indonesian poet and essayist Goenawan Mohamad; and two best-selling novels.

Pamuntjak’s second novel, “Aruna dan Lidahnya,” was a finalist for the 2015 Khatulistiwa Literary Award. The English version, translated by Tiffany Tsao, was published in February 2018 in the US under the title “The Birdwoman’s Palate.” The movie adaptation of the novel will be released on 27 September 2018, starring Dian Sastrowardojo as Aruna, Nicholas Saputra as Bono, Hannah Al-Rashid as Nadezhda and Oka Antara as Farish. The movie will be directed by Edwin, best director at the 2017 Indonesian Film Festival.

Amba/The Question of Red, Pamuntjak’s bestselling first novel, won Germany’s LiBeraturpreis this year, was short-listed for the 2012 Khatulistiwa Literary Award,appeared on the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Top 8 list of the best books of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2015, and was named best work of fiction from Asia, America, Latin America, and the Caribbean translated into German on the Weltempfaenger (Receivers of the World) list of the best works of fiction translated into German. The novel is a modern take on the Hindu epic Mahabharata set against the backdrop of the Indonesian mass killings of 1965 and the Buru penal colony, and has been translated into English, German (Alle Farben Rot, 2015) and Dutch (Amba of De Kleur Van Rood, 2015). It also appeared in De Bild’s Top 10 Books of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2015, and the ORF Kultur Top 10 List for November 2015.

In 2012, Pamuntjak, who is co-founder of Aksara Bookstore, was selected by an international panel headed by Sir Simon Armitage as the Indonesian representative for Poetry Parnassus at the 2012 London Olympics. Her prose and poetry have been published in many international literary journals.  Her newest novel, “Herbstkind,” will be published in Germany by Ullstein Verlag in August 2018. It is the sequel of “Alle Farben Rot” and tells the story of Srikandi, the visual artist daughter of the first novel’s protagonist, and her best-friend-turned-enemy Dara, a political activist, set against the struggle between the international contemporary art scene and forces of censorship and intolerance. Pamuntjak currently divides her time between Jakarta and Berlin.

Her recent 2015 German book tour has seen her give talks and readings, among others, in Berlin, Bonn, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Goettingen, Dusseldorf, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Erfurt, Bielefeld, and Bad Berleburg.

Pamuntjak has been invited to speak as guest writer at University of Oxford, Yale University, New York University (NYU), School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (SOAS), and Ecole francaise d’Extreme- Orient in Paris.

Pamuntjak’s poetry and short fiction have appeared, among others, in Critical Muslim (Summer 2015); Asymptote (January 2015); BooksActually Gold Standard Anthology 2016; Softblow; Takahe (NZ): QLRS (Vol. 11 no. 1, Jan 2012), Heat Literary Journal (Australia), Asia Literary Review (December 2015; Autumn 2006, Vol. 3; Spring 2007, Vol. 4; Autumn 2007, Vol. 5; Prince Claus Fund Journal (Special Edition, #12, 2006); the Anthology of Writings from the Utan Kayu Biennale Literary Festival 2007, Not a Muse world poetry anthology (Haven Books: Hong Kong, 2009); Scalar Literary Magazine (Premier Edition, April 2010); Biblio Review of Books (2007); and the Poetry Edition of the Asia Literary Review (November 2010). She also wrote the preface to Not a Muse: World Poetry Anthology (Haven Books: Hong Kong, 2009). In 2012, her poem “A Traveler’s Tale” was published in The World Record (edited by Neil Astley and Anna Selby, Bloodaxe Books: London, 2012) and included in the Rain of Poems (Casagrande: London, 2013).

In April 2009, Pamuntjak was appointed member of the international prize jury of the art philantrophic organisation Prince Claus Fund in Amsterdam, on behest of the Dutch Royal Family, for the period 2009-2011.1

  1. Laksmi Pamuntjak 

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