Utuy Tatang Sontani was born in 1920 in the town of Cianjur, West Java. He moved to the city of Bandung at 16, where he made his own way in the world, through the upheavals of occupation, then war and revolution, followed by the tumultuous Sukarno years. By his early 30s, he had won acclaim as a national playwright, but his life continued to be—as for many others—a struggle against extreme rigors, material and moral.
Utuy was unusual among his middle-class peers in having been educated in the indigenous Taman Siswa rather than Dutch system. As a fervent nationalist, he remained faithful to his Sundanese roots. He first achieved recognition with the novel, Tambera (1949), but he is known principally for the many plays and short stories he wrote between 1948 and 1963. Increasingly concerned with the plight of the downtrodden and unfortunate, his work became darker over time. His writing is notable in its sympathy for even his most abject female characters.