Indonesia is a seductive place. Its people are among the most hospitable on the planet; it is rich beyond telling in languages, cultures and landscapes and it heaves with gold, nickel, spices, fish stocks. Indonesia is also a well-spring of patronage, corruption and bureaucratic incompetence; its schools are a shambles, its legal system a disgrace. Elizabeth Pisani—journalist turned scientist turned analyst-of-all-trades—describes Indonesia as a giant Bad Boyfriend, charming and maddening in equal parts. She has been in thrall to the country since first working in Indonesia over two decades ago, and keeps coming back for more.
In 1945, Indonesian nationalists Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaimed: “We, the people of Indonesia, hereby declare the independence of Indonesia. Matters relating to the transfer of power etc. will be executed carefully and as soon as possible.” Nearly seven decades later, Pisani set out to rediscover Indonesia in the age of its latest “Etc”: decentralisation. She spent over a year travelling 21,000 kilometres by motorbike, bus and boat, and covering another 20,000 kilometres by plane. She stayed with fishermen and farmers, bus drivers and nurses, teachers and nomads. Out of a palette that includes a sound knowledge of history, years of close observation and a healthy sense of the absurd, she paints a clear-eyed but ultimately affectionate portrait of the nation.
Indonesia Etc. is also available as an E-Book and in enhanced E-book format. The enhanced version contains numerous photographs, and multiple slideshows and video recordings of priests chanting by moonlight, letters to Elizabeth from Generals and rebels and lots of other fun stuff. (Note: It will work best on an iPad.)
Outside of Indonesia, little is known about the country’s writers and their works. Helping to change that situation is the annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) which, since the festival’s first incarnation in 2004, has brought more than 350 Indonesian authors to Ubud to stand alongside their fellow authors from around the world. UWRF is committed to introducing Indonesian writers to an international audience—not just established authors, but also emerging ones. Although this collection is but a small sample of literary works by emerging authors who have joined the festival over the years, it will introduce you to the heart of Indonesia: to a world of hardship and heartbreak, conflict and peace. Each and every story adds to the sum of its parts: the complex and rich culture of one of the world’s most misunderstood nations. In this volume’s stories and poems, penned by authors from Sumatra to Papua of different ethnic groups, languages, and religions, the common thread is the affirming voice of human expression. John McGlynn & Laura Noszlopy (editors), selected the works of Adek Dedees, Amanche Franck OE Ninu, Arif Fitra Kurniawan, Benazir Nafilah, Budy Utamy, Dewi Ria Utari, Emil Amir, Fitrawan Umar, I Nyoman Manda, Ida Ahdiah, Ilham Q Moehiddin, Imam Muhtarom, Irianto Ibrahim, Jaladara, Kurnia Effendi, Mario F Lawi, Mashuri, Mugya Syahreza Santosa, Niduparas Erlang, Olyrison, Reda Gaudiamo, Sunlie Thomas Alexander, Uda Agus, Wa Ode Wulan Ratna, Zeffry Alkatiri, Zelfeni Wimra, and Zen Hae for the anthology.
The Lontar Anthology of Indonesian Short Stories is the first definitive anthology in English of Indonesian short stories from the twentieth century. These two volumes, featuring a selection of 109 of the most popular and influential works of short fiction, span the entire century, from pre-Independence Indonesia to the year 2000, and include many new translations. The editors drew from a wide cross section of Indonesian short story writers with respect to ethnicity, gender, class, and ideology. Volume 2 presents 61 stories dating from the founding of the New Order government that followed a national bloodbath in 1965 to just after its end in 1998 and the dawn of the second millennia. Along with the rise of “newspaper-length short stories” and a dwindling focus on realism, this period was marked by numerous changes in style and form, especially in the last decade of the century when authors, concerned with the militaristic nature of the central government, began to adopt a much more direct approach.
The Lontar Anthology of Indonesian Short Stories is the first definitive anthology in English of Indonesian short stories from the twentieth century. These two volumes, featuring a selection of 109 of the most popular and influential works of short fiction, span the entire century, from pre-Independence Indonesia to the year 2000, and include many new translations. The editors drew from a wide cross section of Indonesian short story writers with respect to ethnicity, gender, class, and ideology. Volume 1 presents 48 stories dating back to the days of rising nationalism in the first part of the century to just before the downfall of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, and the rise of a militaristic government following the tragic events of 1965. Stories from the 1920s that drew on oral storytelling traditions and were suffused with nationalistic ideology were gradually replaced by fiction written with realism as a guiding principle. At all times, writers were the unofficial spokespeople for the issues affecting their generation.