Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Dredging up the dark past: Indonesian writers at Ubud


Michael Vatikiotis is currently blogging from the 10th Ubud Writers & Readers Festival.  Here he writes about some of the featured Indonesian authors.

Politics is a prominent and enduring theme of Indonesian art and literature.  Perhaps the easiest explanation for this is that Indonesia is a relatively new country, under 70 years old.  Most Indonesians have living relatives who were born before independence and they, together with subsequent generations, have experienced the highs and the lows of what Indonesia’s doyen of journalism and modern letters, Goenawan Muhammad, defines as a country still under construction. “Indonesia is a process; it is not a finished idea,” he declared at at the Festival.

Goenawan’s rather moving response to the challenge of defining “My Indonesia”, was to propose that his Indonesia is the Indonesia of his parents – a country worth dying for. His father was executed by the Dutch colonial authorities in North Java during the later stages of the armed struggle for independence. 

Throughout this year’s Festival, Indonesian writers have aired concerns about the state of the nation through the prism of literature, in performance, and in conversation.  Much of the questioning is about the buried past.  Leila Chudori launched Home, her novel about exiled Indonesian leftists washed up in Paris in the wake of the violent anti-communist crackdown. Soon to be available in an English translation, Leila’s powerful prose reveals the stark brutality of the period, when people accused of communist sympathies were cleansed “like lice and germs...The army was the disinfectant.  We, the lice and germs had been eradicated from the face of the earth, with no trace left.”

Laksmi Pamuntjak’s poetic epic Amba, newly published in English as The Question of Red, deals with the same era only transposed as a modern version of the story of Amba and Bhisma from the Mahabharata epic.  

Both Home and Amba have already been re-printed several times in the months since they were published, indicating a public thirst for stories about the political past as Indonesia heads into an uncertain political future. 

Another Indonesian author featured at the Festival this year was journalist Solahudin, whose new book, starkly titled, The Roots of Terrorism in Indonesia, traces the jihadist movement responsible for the Bali bombings of 2002 back as far as Darul Islam movement that made a violent bid to transform Indonesia into an Islamic state from the 1950s until its defeat in 1962.  Solahudin’s detailed research establishes a clear link with the failed revolt and chronicles the Islamic movement’s efforts to revive through the 1970s and 80s, which provided the launch pad for the modern generation of terrorists.

Whilst the momentum of Indonesia’s transition to democracy seems reassuring and offers grounds for optimism, strikingly many Indonesian writers are not taking things for granted.  Rather, they have used their relatively new-found freedom to explore the country’s troubled past, perhaps in the hope that it will help secure a better future.

Michael Vatikiotis

1 comment:

  1. Virtually all Vuittons are actually hand made. This is actually an enterprise insurance coverage, so that they can influence the sheer number of omega replica sale purses who jump into the forex market. Believe it or not, right now you can actually basically pay for a particular pouch of a single particular Vuitton in every patient? Who speak to you on the subject of good as well as designer's need for child your partner's shoppers basically pick up hublot replica sale the right. There's a chance you're asking on the subject of Vuitton normally fabricated using likelihood is. They've been basic see. Vuitton purses have a relatively specific notice due to its particular leatherette which may be chosen. For anyone not really leatherette smelling experienced, investigate the lining. Its all sorts of canvas not to mention small cloth and then the clothes materials can be viewed. The charge will likewise rolex replica sale reveal : Vuittons you shouldn't can be purchased less expensive, which means should a professional offers a less expensive a particular, discover immediately that must be some counterfeit. Desire I just reveal further on the subject of Vuittons? Most people require to find one self a specific thing this unique fantastic. Pick up a particular presently. The simplest way? Investigate a lot of our online site to find the whole set of breitling replica uk advice. Right now through 1836, when ever Louis Vuitton was basically solely 14 yrs . old, the guy only took twelve months rather long hike towards London to search out your partner's lots of money. And / or which he launched your partner's industry getting moving around trunks. Being situation from matter, the guy developed moving around trunks for the purpose of Napoleon III, and then the logos which he slip on your partner's canvas travel and leisure trunks, programs 1896, are painted by hand not to mention would always defy counterfeiters.

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.