How Indonesian Literature is being found with Translation


Amba, a novel from Indonesia, written by award winning writer Lakshmi Pamuntjak, was a modern take on the story of Amba and Bhisma from The Mahabharata, set against the backdrop of the violence of 1965 and the Buru penal colony set up during Suharto’s regime. Published in 2012, it became a national bestseller within Indonesia.

It was first translated to German in 2015 and sold 10,000 copies within three months of its launch. Later the English translation renamed it The Question of Red (2016). The novel did win some amount of international acclaim.

However, much of the rich Indonesian lore had continued unexplored due to lack of translations into English. “Many works have great potential, but perhaps need the help of professional editors and the translation needs to be of a high standard,” said Janet de Neefe, the founder and director of Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

When Indonesia was invited as the guest of honour in the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest marketplace for printed and digital content, it was given US$ 11.5 million  to bring its literature to limelight.

Read about the outcome of the grant in this article from The Jakarta Post.



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