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Lontar: Indonesian Literature in Translation

Bringing Indonesian literature to the world – Inside Indonesia

Featured Books by the Lontar Foundation

In a Jakarta Prison: Life Stories of Women Inmates
Sujinah (Author) and Irfan Kortschak (Translator)

Female characters in Indonesian fiction from the period 1965 to 1998 often bore little resemblance to real-life, flesh and blood, people. In a Jakarta Prison presents the life stories of women inmates, proving that writers need to look no further than the women around them for the role models of fictional heroines and anti-heroines. Collected by Sujinah, a political prisoner at the time, the stories in In a Jakarta Prison not only chart the reasons for the imprisonment of women in Indonesia, but they also illustrate the multi-faceted roles that women play in Indonesian society.

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Out of Ubud: Selected Works by New Voices at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival
A. A. Panji Tisna (Author) and John H. McGlynn (Translator)

Outside of Indonesia, little is known about this country’s writers and their work. Helping to change that situation is the annual Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) which, since the first festival in 2004, has brought more than 350 Indonesian authors to Ubud to stand alongside and to interact with literary peers from around the world. UWRF is strongly committed to introducing Indonesian writers to an international audience—not just senior established authors but emerging writers as well. Although this collection represents only a small sampling of literary work by emerging writers who have appeared at the Festival over the years, it does nonetheless, introduce you to the heart of Indonesia, to a world of hardship and heartbreak, conflict, and peace. There are tales that reveal their unseen world of good and evil, some that unveil Moslem traditions and others that take us into tropical rainforests. And every story adds to the sum of its parts, the complex and rich culture of one of the world’s most misunderstood nations.

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Menagerie 4: Bali in Writing
John H. McGlynn (Editor) and I Nyoman Darma Putra (Editor)

Bali has long been one of the most famous travel destinations in the world. With its two million visitors a year, foreign-conceived notions about this island is abound, but what do the Balinese think of their island and their culture? What do fellow Indonesians think of Bali? Their views are virtually unknown to the outside world. Menagerie 4, through its 13 stories by Balinese and Indonesian authors, offers an insider’s view of the Island of the Gods that often contrasts starkly with the popular image manufactured by tourism agencies and travel magazines.

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Leila S. Chudori

So begins the novel Home (Pulang) and Leila S Chudori’s remarkable fictional account of the impact of the September 30 Movement of 1965. This “movement,” blamed by military leaders on the Indonesian Communist Party, led to the murder of a million or more presumed Communists and the imprisonment of tens of thousands presumed leftists and sympathizers. Thousands of Indonesian citizens who were abroad at the time had their passports revoked and were left to live in exile. Thereafter, history was manipulated by the Soeharto government to portray its involvement in this atrocity in a favorable light. A whole generation of Indonesians was raised in world of forced silence, where facts were suppressed and left unspoken.

While the tumultuous events of 1965 are the backdrop of the story, Home is not a novel about ideology or political power. Going back and forth, both temporally and geographically, between Jakarta and Paris in 1965 and 1998, Home is about the lives of the Indonesian exiles, their families and friends, including those left behind in Indonesia. This story is one of love, lust, and betrayal but one that also includes laughter, adventure and food.

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