The poetically-crafted stories found in this collection by Triyanto Triwikromo –the first by this writer in English translation, are leavened by sardonic wit, a touch of the absurd, and the bizarre in a world gone mad. A Conspiracy of God-Killers is not itself the title of any of the short stories in this collection but derives from a suggestion by Triyanto himself. And small wonder! The title embodies the dominant theme of these stories: that organized violence and persecution of the vulnerable amounts to a conspiracy against God.
Set in a small Sumatran village during the final days of World War II, And the War is Over is a heart-pounding story where the lives of villagers, Japaese soldiers, Dutch prisoners, and Javanese workers intertwine dramatically, though briefly, in a prisoner camp. When a number of Dutch prisoners conceive an escape plan, tensions arise to a point where human relationships take center stage in this widely acclaimed novel.
The first ever novel by a Papuan author, this story of generosity, greed, and resilience follows the friendship of several underwater and amphibious creatures. In this ecological parable, John Waromi shows the effects of “harvesting the storm” and reaping the results of actions beyond our control. He sheds light on not only the ecology of the southern Papuan coast but also the lives of its people and their culture.
A coming-of-age story, a tapestry of erotic and tragic liaisons, a dreamscape of nightmares and wonders. But Ceremony is, above all, a tribute to the ceremony-rich life of the Benuaq Dayak, one of the many “upriver people” of Kalimantan. This post-modern (and first) novel by Korrie Layun Rampan took Indonesian literary scene by storm when it won the Jakarta Arts Council’s novel writing competition award in 1977. After winning the award, Korrie continued to establish himself as one of Indonesia’s major literary figures, but four decades later, Ceremony still has the power to thrill, awe, and mystify readers. This edition is graced by an informative introduction by noted French scholar, Bernard Sellato, on the rituals of the Benuaq Dayak people. It also contains a critique of the original edition by Indonesian poet and translator Dodong Djiwapradja.
As a flight attendant for the new Indonesian Airlines, Elisa is determined to establish her independence and find a place where she really belongs. With a troubled family background and almost no knowledge of her ancestors, Elisa is searching for her true identity. The search for her true father proves to be heartbreaking and Elisa grows to hope that her marriage to a handsome Javanese man she fell deeply in love with will give her a sense of belonging ad stability. In this novel, Elisa learns what it means to be a young woman finding her way in the troubled early years of Indonesia’s independence.
Drought is a celebration of life and human commitment. The hero decides to move to one of Indonesia’s outer islands, in a government-run program called “transmigration”, to start a new life as a farmer. His near-failed effort takes him to meet various inspired madmen—bureaucrats, bandits, psychiatrists, religious teachers, and a beautiful woman known only as the V.I.P. The combination of these characters will make us question what is considered “normal” in a conventional society. The book is a lyrical testimony of the strength and unpredictability of human character.
Earth Dance tells the story of four generations of Balinese women with conflicts arising from the demands of the caste system and personal desires. Our narrator, Ida Ayu Telaga, reveals how Balinese women wish to be beautiful and ultimately, find a husband from a higher caste group. When the stubborn Telaga defies her mother’s wishes and marries a commoner, her surroundings think this is a downward move. Behind their thick glossy hair and golden complexions, lies a web of jealousy and intrigue that bewilders Telaga: Is this what it means to be a woman? Earth Dance has been translated into German and published under the title Erdentanz.
On November 1991, Indonesian soldiers opened fire on protestors in Dili, capital of East Timor, killing an estimated 250 people. For publishing a report on this massacre, Seno Gumira Ajidarma, an editor of Jakarta-Jakarta magazine at the time, was dismissed from his position. He sought another way to tell the truth about what was happening in East Timor –this time through “fiction.” The stories in Eyewitness both unsettle the mind and pull the heartstrings. With their strange, unnerving style, the stories also represent one brave author’s refusal to forget. “When journalism is gagged,” the author once said, ”literature must speak.”
Fireflies in Manhattan is a collection of stories that represents three major stages in Umar Kayam’s literary career: stories about New York; stories about the 1965 Communist coup that remain unmatched for their sympathy towards innocent victims; and a series of poignant stories about Lebaran, the time of the Moslem year where those who have been away from home are feeling homesick. Umar Kayam’s stories vary greatly in subject and tone, but in all of them we can always hear the voice of the common man. Author of a large number of books brimming with different styles and genres, Umar Kayam gained a highly-deserved reputation as the voice of the common man. His books include short story anthologies, essays, novels, and children’s stories. His short story, A Thousand Fireflies, won the Horison Literary Prize in 1967 and he was named the recipient of the 1987 S.E.A. Write Award.
Home is a remarkable fictional account of the September 30th Movement’s impact on people’s lives. This “movement” led to the murder of a million or more presumed “Communists” and the imprisonment of another tens of thousands of people. At the time, thousands of Indonesians who were abroad had their passports revoked and were exiled. History was manipulated by the Suharto government to cast a favorable light on their involvement in this tragedy. A whole generation of Indonesians were raised in a world of forced silence, where facts were suppressed and left unspoken. Although the tumultuous events of 1965 envelop Home’s background, this is not a novel about ideology. Going back and forth between Jakarta and Paris in 1965 and 1998, Home is about the lives of Indonesians in exile, their families and their friends, including those left behind in Indonesia. It is not only a story of love, lust and betrayal, but also of laughter, adventure and food.
Siti Nurbaya by Marah Rusli is a classic novel that remains poignant even today. When it was first published, the novel made great impact on the region which was then known as the Dutch East Indies. But the novel stays relevant; the injustice experienced by key female characters in the novel is still a controversial topic in today’s Indonesia. Rich in descriptions, dense with foreboding, and filled with the inexorable workings of fate, Siti Nurbaya is much more than Samsu and Siti Nurbaya’s ill-fated love story. Siti Nurbaya documents the conflict between the dreams of a younger generation and stifling traditions. First published in 1928, Siti Nurbaya is still in print today and has been translated into several languages. HB Jassin, the prominent Indonesian literary critic, named Marah Rusli the first Indonesian modern novelist.
The Javanese Gentry depicts the implicit concerns of many characters who can only dream of achieving the status of a gentry. When Sastrodarsono returns to his village as a school teacher, by virtue of the job, he becomes a gentry. The book follows Sastrodarsono’s family across different periods of Indonesian history: the late colonial period, the Japanese occupation, the war for independence, and two decades of social disorder that ends in the mid 1960s with the rise of Suharto’s New Order government. Author of a large number of books brimming with different styles and genres, Umar Kayam gained a highly-deserved reputation as the voice of the common man. His books include short story anthologies, essays, novels, and children’s stories. His short story, A Thousand Fireflies, won the Horison Literary Prize in 1967 and he was named the recipient of the 1987 S.E.A. Write Award.
On November 12, 1991, the Indonesian military opened fire on protestors in Dili, East Timor. Hundreds were killed and accounts of this massacre sparked international outrage. In Jakarta, a cover-up began immediately and the Indonesian mass media was cautioned to tow the official line. Seno Gumira Ajidarma refused to do so and transformed documentary evidence into semi-fictional form and published it as novel. This novel is a triptych, the first two of which—“Jazz” and “Perfume”—should be easily recognizable to most readers but “the Incident” is a collage of documents on an event in Indonesian history euphemistically referred to by the same name.
Regardless of their skin color or belief system, women all over the world experience sexual violence. Menagerie 5 features a dozen stories
by twelve authors focusing on various aspects of sexual violence towards women, from human trafficking to prostitution and the plight of female guest workers abroad. This collection includes poems by the missing poet- activist Wiji Thukul, reproductions of protest posters produced by Kelompok Rakyat Biasa, and a photographic essay on the 1999 election campaign.
Kidnapped from Java, five year-old Mirah is taken to the Banda islands. Mirah of Banda reads like a personal account: from her life in a nutmeg plantation during the Dutch colonial era, the Japanese occupation, and the Indonesian revolution era. Mirah’s story is told to an Australian who visits the family Mirah works for as a cook and her myriad experiences include her life as a contracted nutmeg picker and the plantation owner’s concubine. The fate of her daughter Lili, when she is taken away to become a “comfort woman” for Japanese soldiers, is even more heartbreaking.
The novel Salah Asuhan, translated here as Never the Twain, is among the most popular works of modern Indonesian fiction. First published in 1928, the book is still in print today. Hanafi, the novel’s protagonist, is madly in love with Corrie du Bussee, a beautiful Eurasian, though he has long been betrothed, to his cousin, Rapiah. Which woman should Hanafi marry: Corrie, the feisty, liberated Western woman, or the simple hearted Rapiah? The conflict Hanafi faces serves as an allegory for pre-independent Indonesia as it struggled toward national identity. Which course was the emerging nation to take? Was it to adhere to traditional values or was it to adopt Western notions of progress and modernity when, in doing so, might lead to the creation ofa race of people who were neither Eastern nor Western?