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Need a Saturday Reading-Company? Here’s 6 Indonesian Books You Should Add to Your Reading List
Do you have any plans to go out this weekend?
If you are planning to have a cup of coffee or even tea and read some good books but (sadly) you don’t have something to read, here’s our favourite books that has been written by amazing writers from Indonesia with captivating stories about Indonesia. And don’t worry, these books are available in English.
- “Saman” by Ayu Utami (1998)
“Saman” has changed Indonesian literary world by giving a huge storm: sold over 100,000 copies in the Bahasa and has receiving Prince Claus Award Amsterdam in 2000. Saman is about an enigmatic “hero” namely Saman and courageous female protagonists. This novel takes place back in New Order regime era and unrevealing Indonesia. Ayu Utami exposing oppression of plantation workers in South Sumatra as the place of religion and spirituality in contemporary lives, and touching Indonesia’s taboos : extramarital sex, political repression, relationship between Christians and Muslims. What makes this book more different is how Ayu Utami changes the genre in the middle of the story that reflects her postmodern writings.
- “Man Tiger” by Eka Kurniawan (2004)
“Man Tiger” just received Man Booker International Prize Nominee for Longlist this year and tons of compliments that have been longing for a literary genius like Pramoedya Ananta Toer and universally considered as Indonesia’s modern literary genius, but also to Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Mark Twain. This book is about tormented families, and Margio, an ordinary half-city, half-rural youngster, half-supernatural female white tiger (white tiger has been considered as a magical creature that protect good villages and families) who decides to kill a man. Margio lives in a community that has been structured by patriarchal dominance, depicting domestic violence that makes the readers immersed to its violence. This psychological thriller isn’t like any classic crime novel. It makes you fall in love since the first line.
- “Letters of A Javanese Princess” (Out of Dark into the Light) by Raden Adjeng Kartini (1911)
Letters of A Javanese Princess is an English version of “Habis Gelap, Terbitlah Terang”. Back to the Dutch colonial era, Kartini’s aristrocratic blood gives her a privilege to attend school until she was 12 years old. After that, her father closed firmly the door to a further schooling. However, Kartini was read everything to gain more insights. She reads the magazine De Hollandsche Lelie which she began to send contributions, as well as Max Havelaar and Love Letters by Multatuli since she could speak Dutch. She also acquired several Dutch pen friends. One of them is Rosa Abendanon, the wife of the Minister for Culture, Religion and Industry in the East Indies, whom she closest to. She wrote about her views of the social conditions, particularly the condition of Indonesian women. Her letters are mostly protest towards Javanese culture to impose obstacles for the development of women while she wanted women to have the freedom to study. “How can women educate their children when they are not educated themselves?”. This book has been considered as the most influential book about women empowerment.
- “The Rainbow Troops” by Andrea Hirata (2005)
The Rainbow Troops is about Andrea Hirata’s autobiographical mesmerizing tale about ten motley students, Rainbow Troops and two teachers from Muhammadiyah Elementary School on Belitong. Despite of their continuation over children’s education, they have to face poverty, constant threat of closure by government officials, greedy corporations, natural disasters, and students’ lack of self-confidence. This book is written by Ikal, who is six years old. Later then, he goes to college and wins the scholarship to go abroad which he always dreamed of. This book reminds us why we love stories that having a slice of life and heartwarming stories. This book has been adapted for the screen and shown at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2009.
- “Before Dawn : The Poetry of Sapardi Djoko Damono” by Sapardi Djoko Damono (2005)
If you have a really short time but craving for amazing literary works, this book is really recommended for you. This book contains of beautiful poetry written by poetry genius, Sapardi Djoko Damono. It contains of 30 poems than the first book that was released in 1978. Some of the most popular poems are included in the book, such as Rain of June and I Want.
- “This Earth of Mankind” by Pramoedya Ananta Toer (2005)
If you want to immerse yourself with Indonesian literary works, make sure you don’t missed this renowned author. This story is about Minke, a young Javanese student whom living equally among the colonist and colonized of 19th century Java. However, he is in a battle against the confines of colonial strictures. Then, he falls in love with Annelies. This gives him more strength to embrace his world.