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.
Cok Sawitri’s stories shed light on the lives of modern Balinese people and the various challenges they face. Readers are invited to examine the Balinese psyche, mainly their essential need for balance between traditional customs and modern-day life. But external conflicts aren’t Sawitri’s only forte; she also looks into people’s hearts.
The poetry of Hanna Fransisca is heavily-laden with Chinese cultural metaphors. The pleasures of eating and cooking might be shadowed by violence and sacrifice, or even eroticism and sadism. We hear multiple voices in Fransisca’s poetry: those of both the minority Chinese and all the women who struggle against the confines of patriarchy.
History fascinates in the hands of M. Iksaka Banu. The stories in this collection feature well-crafted characters acting at key moments in Indonesia’s colonial past. Indonesia’s history has frequently been told through Western eyes. Now, M. Iksaka Banu reclaims the past and makes it come alive for today’s readers.
What distinguished Mona Sylviana’s writing, is her willingness to look at the dark side of life and to confront societal issues head on. In Mona’s stories, the world is not a safe place for women. Yet her characters do not respond to situations as passive objects or victims; they challenge the accepted order.
Clara Ng’s stories seem calm on the surface but they are liberally sprinkled with black humor and often contain unexpected elements of surprise. Her protagonists are usually women but rarely do they hold the same occupation. Ng’s stories are boundless; they serve as role models for women employed in a range of fields.
John A McGlynn’s favorite motto was “never let the truth get in the way of a good lie.” But as revealed in his imaginative tales of travels to Mexico, Indonesia, and other exotic ports of call,
it is often in fantasy that the truth is found. Populated with characters Mark Twain would have appreciated, McGlynn’s stories are those of a modern-day everyman and are as recognizable to an American as they would be to an Indonesian about the common nature of men.
Set in Bali, this novel presents a fascinating picture of the collision between Western gay men and Balinese culture. When Joey Breaux, a choreographer from New York, wins a grant to study in Bali, he believes that the experience will rejuvenate his relationship with his boyfriend, Andrew. Instead, their lives are turned upside down as a result of cultural ignorance and arrogance.
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.
In the end of the 19th century, the Dutch Indies grew a new style of performing arts with Malay language known as “Komedi Bangsawan” or the vaudeville. The appearance triggered by urbanization and the need of entertainment. Nevertheless, as shown by the nine plays in this first chapter, the author– mixed or locals – then exploits the opportunity to understand Malay language not just for entertainment but also to disseminate ideas, social concepts, and new philosophies. Slowly, this art performance can be said as the new people’s theatre.
The play in 1930s era is a room drama – a drama known better as literature rather than a play. Players in this period of time were not familiar with art performances. But as political way almost closed, they chose to disseminate socio-political ideas through literature or play. The Japanese arrivals in early 1940s changed that. Japan required all arts to be a propaganda tool, and sensory became stricter. But in the 12 plays in this second chapter, the players still insert reform ideas in plays written on colonial times as well as Japanese occupation period.
Until the tenth year after Independence, revolution was still a dominant theme in all Indonesian literature genres, including plays. A drastic change and somewhat forced into an independent nation caused a lot of issues due to unpreparedness and sudden anticipation, which was not well planned. The obscurity of post-independence and disorganized “independence” concept was the things that were revealed: cursed, regretted, and mocked in most of the play in this third chapter. The players produced characters tasked to talk about independence impact to the society at large.
The establishment of Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) on 1968 affects the art development as a whole in Indonesia. With the establishment of a theatre there, the theater pupil started to set strategies for public establishment and chose scripts accordingly to the socio-cultural and political contexts at that time. In New Order creations, it was felt the effort to be free from the pressure of the Old Order and succeeded to create artistic reformation, which before was forced to be loyal to realism, whereas at the end of the New Order, most of the creations tend to lean on realism-socialist ideas.
In a writing career spanning more than thirty years, Afrizal Malna has published several major collections of poetry and has seen his poems translated into several languages. Afrizal is concerned with questioning language and with bodily engagement with public and private spaces. It is through the appearance of everyday objects that his poems emerge as a repository of the cultural meanings of space and objects in Indonesia’s everyday modernity. His poems maintain a fine balance between consistency of style and variations in theme. These are poems that trace the quickly changing urban trajectory of present day Indonesia.
The book’s title, Ars Poetica, clues you in: the essays herein constitute a reflection on the art of poetry. With their lyrical language, Hasif’s essays are practically poems in disguise. Hasif writes as if in conversation with a friend for whom there is no need to lecture or show-off his knowledge.
Sapardi Djoko Damono, one of Indonesia’s most productive and popular poets first began writing poetry as a high school student in the mid- 1950s. Before Dawn includes poems written by the author over a forty year time span, from 1961 to 2001. Arranged as they are in chronological order, the poems in Before Dawn together form a kind of poetic autobiography.
In “One Night,” written in 1964, the author is a young Muslim boy crying outside the church door as his classmates celebrate Christmas. In the 1967 poem, “For my Wife,” he is a young husband telling his wife that “the earth holds a spray of flowers, just for you.” In the 1981 poem, “In the Hands of Children,” he is now a doting father marveling that “in the hands of children, paper becomes Sinbad’s ship.” Jump to the 1989 poem, “At the Restaurant,” and he is now middle aged and wondering about the constancy of relationships – whether two people can ever truly share an eternal love. And finally, in the 2001 title poem, “Before Dawn,” the poet is a much older man, whose concerns are mental and physical frailty and, of course, death.
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