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Indonesian books translated into English and German

31 May 2015

Indonesia is the guest of honor at the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair, which takes place in October. This very interesting article (in English) talks about the culture of reading in Indonesia and why Indonesia was chosen for this honor.

Strangely, the article does not mention the popular Ubud Writers Festival. Other than that omission, I think the article gives a fair and accurate description of how Indonesians interact with literature. There’s a lot of orality still in the souls of the people — it’s possible to argue they have never developed a “print culture.” While there are avid readers who read fiction written in the Indonesian language, there’s never been a core of literary writers who write in Bahasa Indonesia. So if you want to read good-quality literature and you are Indonesian, you’re probably reading it in English.

The article also politely does not mention the piracy issue. The publishing industry in Indonesia produces a lot of unauthorized copies of books, including many translations (many of them very poor) for which no permissions were obtained.

The wonderful Lontar Foundation, which translates classic Indonesian literary works into English, is mentioned in the article.

You can now find Indonesian books that have been translated into English here. About 20 to 30 books will be translated into German. (Maybe I will FINALLY be able to read the sequels to Laskar Pelangi, by Andrea Hirata, in English!)

You can find my Indonesia reading list here and my Goodreads shelf for Indonesia here.

P.S. The English translation of Laskar Pelangi, a heartwarming story with a fine Indonesian flavor, is available under the title The Rainbow Troops. Here’s an article about the translation of that extremely popular best-selling novel.

If you are interested in Bahasa Indonesia, the national language of Indonesia, here is a post I wrote about learning to read and write in Bahasa Indonesia.

One Comment leave one →
  1. tom weeks permalink
    1 June 2015 4:27 am

    Hi Mindy, I hadn’t realized the lack of a reading culture in Indonesia until Anne and I were asked to give a talk on trends in literature and contemporary American theater at a university on the island of Madura. During the Q&A after our talk, Anne mentioned she belonged to a women’s book club. That started a long conversation with the audience with questions related to how does one start a book club and how do you encourage your children to read. We mentioned that many parents read books to their children before they went to sleep, and our libraries have reading programs for kids, and kids rooms. The audience was surprised to learn about the concept of a public library. Apparently there is no such thing in Indonesia. Needless to say, they were stunned to learn that we could download an e-book electronically into our Kindle or ipad from our library while we were in Surabaya, and the book would then erase in 30 days. Best Wishes, Tom

    On Sat, May 30, 2015 at 6:00 PM, Ini Di Sini wrote:

    > Mindy McAdams posted: “Indonesia is the guest of honor at the > 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair, which takes place in October. This very > interesting article (in English) talks about the culture of reading in > Indonesia and why Indonesia was chosen for this honor. Strangely, the > articl”

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