Indonesian authorsworld literature

The View from Here – Books from Indonesia

viewfromhereWelcome 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 Ruth Dwitranslator, 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.

 Want to Discover More Countries?

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 

Interested in Being Featured?

If you’d like to do a guest post to represent your country, please leave a comment with info on how to contact you.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

3 thoughts on “The View from Here – Books from Indonesia

  • Pingback: Home again | BookerTalk

  • Hi, hello 🙂 thank you so much for this feature. but I think you wrote my name wrong. it is Ratih Dwi, not Ruth Dwi 🙂

    • Sorry Ratih. I was doing the last minute changes on my iPad and my spelling there is terrible, I will change this now.


We're all friends here. Come and join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: