Iwan Martua Dongan Simatupang was born in January of 1928 in Sibolga, North Sumatra. He took part in the 1945 to 1949 Indonesian Revolution against the Dutch, and was captured in March 1949. After the Revolution, he first studied medicine in Surabaya. Then he studied anthropology and drama at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Finally he studied philosophy at the Sorbornne in Paris. He returned to Indonesia in 1961, married to a Dutch pianist. Shortly after his return, he completed work on The Pilgrim (Ziarah), which was not published until 1969, and two other novels as well: Merahnya Merah (The Redness of Red), published earlier, in 1968; and Kering (Drought), published in 1972. Redness of Redwon a national literary prize in 1970 and The Pilgrim won an award for the best novel of ASEAN in 1977.
In addition to prose, Simatupang wrote poetry, short stories, and plays—all known for their avant garde form. He also worked as a journalist and his columns were known for their frequent focus on Indonesia’s marginalized citizens. He died on August 4, 1970