Translation, Globalization and Indonesian Literature: Islands of Imagination?
- Stephen Epstein Victoria University of Wellington
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In recent years, Indonesian literature has become increasingly implicated in global consciousness: a growing international awareness of the nation's literary riches led to Indonesia becoming the Guest of Honour at the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair and the Market Focus country at the 2019 London Book Fair. In 2016, Eka Kurniawan became the first Indonesian author to be nominated for the Man Booker International Prize for Man Tiger (Lelaki Harimau). Translation grants under the auspices of the National Book Committee of the Ministry of Education and Culture seek to foster the production of work that reaches foreign audiences and implicitly serve as a tool of soft power as Indonesian actors strive to put themselves “on the map”.
Simultaneously, local productions draw on settings that move beyond the nation's borders to enhance a global imagination among Indonesian readers: Islamic popular literature encourages the envisioning of participation in a wider realm of fellow believers; the “Metropop” of Ilana Tan's Seasons series provides romantic global escape, while Intan Paramaditha's far more sophisticated choose-your-own adventure novel Gentayangan (The Wandering), the winner of Tempo's 2017 award for best piece of prose fiction, uses international settings to explore themes of cosmopolitanism, displacement, nomadism, and transgression. In this panel, presenters will engage with the complexities of these trends to consider the impact of global imaginings upon Indonesia, how writers and institutions situate themselves in a worldwide landscape, and how national and transnational forces structure the global circulation of Indonesian literature.