How Hesri Setiawan’s book on Buru Island incarceration is found in translation
Indonesian mass genocide of 1965-66 led to a death toll of almost half to one million and replaced Sukarno with Suharto. Many were imprisoned in the Buru island jail. One of them was writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, author of the Buru Quartet which was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1988.
Writers, intellectuals and teachers spent years of incarceration on the island devoid of basic facilities. One of them, Mars Noersmono, was in and out of jails while studying engineering and ended up in Buru island. He wrote a book, Bertahan Hidup di Pulau Buru (A Prisoner’s Life on Buru Island) which also had photographs of the island. He looked for a publisher for fifteen years and finally found one in Bandung. Few copies of his book found their way to the bookshelf.
He told a journalist from The Diplomat: “I wrote the book because I want the younger generation to understand the truth, and pay respect to those who did not survive… Writing has also lifted the burden I’ve been carrying for so long, and that’s a relief. My dreams are now not so bad.”
But another writer and journalist incarcerated on the dreaded island, Hersri Setiawan, who now lives in Jakarta, had his book found in translation. Buru Island : A Prison Memoir by Setiawan has been translated by Monash university and is now available for readers in English. Read more about it in this report on Jakarta Times.
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