Indonesian Independence Day is observed on August 17. It is a celebration of their declaration of independence from Dutch colonizers in 1945. The country was finally granted independence by colonials in December 1949. Sukarno, the first President, opted to commemorate 17 th August 1945 as the independence day of Indonesia, though it wasn’t until 2005 that the Dutch finally accepted Sukarno’s declaration!
With Sukarno and Suharto, writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer also made a bid for independence as he felt, “Each injustice has to be fought against”. Toer also known as Pak Pram the freedom fighter and writer spent some years in jail and under house arrest for his outspoken writing, both under the Colonials and under Suharto in the island of Buru. He came up with the Buru Quartet and eventually was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1988. He died in 2006. A google doodle did mark his ninety second birthday in 2017.
More recently, Indonesian women writers, including Lakshmi Pamuntjak, Dewi “Dee” Lestari, Leila S. Chudori and Intan Paramaditha have started making waves around the world with their writing. As writers, the women have an avant garde approach. Says Paramditha, “As writers, we have to try to push the boundaries as to what is possible within ourselves to break those taboos.” In the London Book Fair this year, seven out of the twelve authors from Indonesia were women.
In an attempt to bring Indonesia’s literary output more into the limelight, the government is for the first time hosting an international book fair in Jakarta from August 20 th to 24 th this year.
Find out more about the international book festival in this article by clicking here.
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