In recent years, the international profile of Indonesian literature has been given a substantial boost. Indonesian authors and their works have been highlighted at major book fairs in Europe and backed by funding from the Ministry for Education and Culture and the Agency for Creative Economy (Bekraf). It was hoped that an international boon for Indonesian literature would follow. Indeed, in the past decade, names like Ayu Utami and Eka Kurniawan have joined Pramoedya Ananta Toer and WS Rendra as Indonesian writers recognised and read by readers all over the world.
The publication of work in English translation is imperative in order to achieve such a global readership. In early March this year, Tiffany Tsao’s translation of Budi Darma’s “People from Bloomington” (Orang-Orang Bloomington) won the prestigious PEN Translation Prize, marking another significant moment for Indonesian literature internationally. What does the future look like for Indonesian literature in translation? Who and what is being translated and published? And what expectations do publishers and readers have about the stories they will encounter?
In the latest episode of Talking Indonesia, Dr Jemma Purdey chats with writer and translator Tiffany Tsao about these questions and more.
Tiffany’s most recent novel, The Majesties (Atria Books, 2020), was longlisted for the Ned Kelly Award. She is also translator of Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s Happy Stories, Mostly, which won the Republic of Consciousness Prize, an annual British literary prize, and was long-listed for the prestigious International Booker Prize. For those keen to explore more great literature from Indonesia and the region, she recommends following Danang Publishing and on Instagram @idwriters, @sealitcircle, @thediversiteabookclub and @ricetwicethrice.
In 2023, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Dr Jacqui Baker from Murdoch University, and Tito Ambyo from RMIT.
Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via Apple Podcasts or listen via your favourite podcasting app.