The View from Here – Books from Indonesia
Welcome to the world of books. In the last feature in this series we travelled to Colombia to hear from Laura Sesana about writers and the literary scene from her native country.
This time we are heading for Indonesia where we catch up with Ratih Dwi, a freelance translator who blogs at booklypurple.
Let’s meet Ruth
I’m a freelance translator, mainly doing translation on commercial romance novels for a publisher here in Indonesia. I have a penchant for contemporary Western fiction, but I’ve been trying to broaden my reading horizon and not to limit myself to a certain genre or literary works from a certain country/part of the world. So that’s what my blog site is about. It is where I put my reviews after reading books of any genre and origin. And if people tend to divide fiction into literary and popular/commercial, then they’ll also find both in my blog site.
Q. What kinds of books are the most popular right now in Indonesia? Any particular titles or authors that are creating a buzz?
I think what is popular in my country very much follows the current trend abroad, especially in the US. So now young adult author like John Green is pretty much creating a buzz here. Though I can say that books about travel/personal journey and romance novels by Indonesian writers are also gripping most of our readers’ attention today.
Q. Who would you say some of the most prominent authors from Indonesia either now or in previous eras?
Pramoedya Ananta Toer is our most prominent author whose works were and are still very popular to this day, many people have read his books. But today’s authors like Dee (the pen-name of singer-songwriter Dewi Lestari), Tere Liye, and Leila S. Chudori have also standout positions in our literary world.
Q: Are there some novels or books that you were required to read when you were in school?
I cannot remember but I don’t think there were any. However, as far as I can recollect, they always inserted a paragraph or two from some Indonesian classics in our Bahasa Indonesia textbooks as a text sample for reading.
Q: Reading the Wikipedia page about literature from Indonesia, it shows a very rich mixture of culture. How does this reflect the way people write – do you think their approaches are different depending on whether they come from a Malay tradition for example or Sundanese?
In the past, cultural backgrounds indeed influenced the way people wrote, because their works were the reflections of their cultural upbringing and environment. The characteristics and social problems of each tribe are different and that mirrored in the characters, themes, and atmosphere presented in their writings. But I don’t think it’s still the case in our today’s contemporary literature, mostly.
Q: If there was just one book you think we should try to read to give us a good flavor of literature from your country, what would you recommend?Andrea Hirata’s Laskar Pelangi. Or any work by Pramoedya Ananta Toer.
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The View from Here series features guest articles on the literature of many countries including India, Sri Lanka, Canada. For the complete list, visit the View from Here page
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Posted on April 14, 2015, in Indonesia, world literature and tagged Andrea Hirata’s Laskar Pelangi, Indonesia, Indonesian literature, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, world literature. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.