17,000 Islands of Imagination: Indonesian Literature Today

Composite of speakers (Left - Right: Seno Gumira Ajidarma, Dee Lestari and Agustinus Wibowo)

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Discover Indonesia’s most exciting contemporary writers

With its incredible mix of identities, languages, religions, geographies and histories, Indonesia is one of the most diverse countries in the world. 

Louise Doughty chairs an evening of discussion and readings with some of Indonesia’s most exciting contemporary writers - Agustinus Wibowo, Dee Lestari and Seno Gumira Ajidarma. Together they will talk about turning their islands of imagination into stories, novels and narratives that together begin to capture the rich complexity of Indonesia today.

The event will be followed by an Indonesian canapé and cocktail reception.

Seno Gumira Ajidarma is a prolific author of non-fiction, short stories, and essays. Under his penname, Mira Sato, he has published poetry has well. He is also known as a journalist, photographer, lecturer, and film critic. Much of Seno’s work, both the factual and the fictional, focuses on everyday life and criticizes contemporary social, cultural and political conditions—but he has a great sense of humor as well, and has published satirical essays, playful poetry, a cartoon novel, and historical fantasies. He is well known in Indonesia as a consistent advocate of free speech and freedom of publication, and is the recipient of numerous literary awards, both national and international, including the Khatulistiwa Prize, Indonesia’s top literary award, the South East Asia (SEA) Write Award, and the Dinny O’Hearn Prize for Literary Translation. His work has been translated into English, French, German, and Japanese.

Agustinus Wibowo is a prominent travel writer. A descendant of Chinese immigrants, the question of identity dominated his earlier life and shaped his perspective of the world around him. He often questioned why people were categorized by identity and the reasons for enimity between different ethnic groups. His quest for answers has taken him to China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asian republics, the far-flung islands of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Suriname, the Netherlands, and many other countries. His work has pioneered a new genre in Indonesian travel literature by allowing readers to experience the writer’s physical and emotional journey as they contemplate their own conflict and anxieties. His third book, a travel-memoir, Zero: When Journey Takes You Home, became a national best-selling and will soon be adapted into a film. His latest work, Us and Them, which reveals the roots of human identities and conflicts, will be published in 2019.

Dee Lestari is a bestselling novelist, short story writer, and singer-songwriter. In 1993, she formed the popular girl band RSD (short for “Rida, Sita, Dewi”); together they released three albums and a greatest hits album. In 2001, Dee released her first novel, Kesatria, Putri dan Bintang Jatuh, the first volume in her six-book “Supernova” series which was published in English under the title Supernova: The Knight, The Princess, and the Falling Star. Two books in that series were nominated for Indonesia’s highest literary award. In March 2006, Dee released Filosofi Kopi: Kumpulan Cerita and Prosa Satu Dekade (Coffee Philosophy: A Decade Worth of Stories and Prose). Two years later, she released Rectoverso, a “hybrid” of a music album and a short story collection. That year she also published the novel Perahu Kertas which has been published in English under the title Paper Boats. Several of her books have been adapted into films.

Presented in association with the British Council as part of the Indonesia Market Focus at the London Book Fair

Image: A Perahu Pustaka: mobile libraries that travel across Indonesia © Komite Nasional Indonesia


Name: 17,000 Islands of Imagination: Indonesian Literature Today
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £12.00
Member: £12.00
Senior 60+: £10.00
Student: £8.00
Registered Unemployed: £8.00
Under 18: £8.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546