Frankfurt Book Fair: October 14 – 18 2015
Indonesia Guest of Honor

We presented eight titles as our contribution to support the promotion of Indonesian Literature at this event.

Our books were shown in the Indonesian Pavilion as well as in the American Collective stand.

Several events preceded the fair.

Asri Saraswati, a PhD student at the University at Buffalo SUNY and lecturer at the University of Indonesia, spoke at “70 years of textual Production in Indonesia: Cultural Traditions informing Modern Productions,” a symposium at the Goethe University of Frankfurt, October 12-13, 2015 and used Only a Girl in her presentation titled, “Writing in Mobility: The Work of Indonesian Writers in America” part of a panel session on “Indonesia in local and global trajectories.”

Manneke Budiman, Lecturer at the Literature Department, University of Indonesia, mentioned us in his interview by The Conversation regarding the fair.

October 4 – 10, 2015
Impressions of the San Francisco Bay Area

After a week of hard work it was time to play.

Julie Anderson, our super-duper San Francisco guide, turned everyone quickly into seasoned SF walkers as she introduced several “pockets” of the city. During the course of three days we visited SF Civic Center, Union Square, China Town and North Beach, Ghirardelli Square, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Erni found words on a sidewalk of North Beach near City Lights Books where Paul Yamazaki affirmed his support of Dalang’s publications by spending time with us.

We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and after a picnic lunch at Marin Headlands, drove through Golden Gate Park with a stop at the De Young museum and the Conservatory of Flowers.

We took the ferry to Alcatraz and then walked to the Ferry building for lunch.

One can’t visit CA without driving along its coast, visit a lighthouse, and see a redwood tree. We spent a day among the redwoods at Big Basin National Park and on our way home stopped at Pidgeon Point Lighthouse off HWay 1.

John Steinbeck being one of Anin’s favorite American authors and Salinas within driving distance of home base, we visited the Steinbeck Museum, had lunch at the old Steinbeck house, and rode across “the fat of the land” on a hay trailer. Yessenia Guzman and Eric Mora, respectively the Tour and Marketing Coordinator of the Steinbeck Center, edged our day in Steinbeck country with their care.

Tamara Donovan generously shared her time and knowledge of Stanford’s campus. A brief history of Stanford was followed by a leisurely walk that took us to from the Oval to the White Plaza, the Main Quad, the Canter Center, Hoover Tower and ended in the Papua sculpture garden.

Visiting America on October 31 meant carving pumpkins for Halloween.

The SF Bay Area is known for its diversity in food offerings but among the musts tries for first time visitors are learning to eat an artichoke, enjoy a pancake breakfast, as well as indulge in a juicy steak and roasted vegetables.

Anindita Thayf – author of Daughters of Papua (Tanah Tabu):

I learned more about America, its people and their culture. It turns out that there isn’t a big difference between us.

John Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors. Meeting him even though only through memorabilia was my highlight of our week of sight-seeing.

My translator, Stefanny Irawan, and I, were paired by Dalang Publishing and we only met one day before leaving together on our trip to CA. However, by working together through the challenges we encountered during our work week, we developed a close friendship which we took home along with lots of memories and learning experiences.

Our shopping trip to SF China Town ended at City Lights Book Store, a SF landmark that carries our books.

Stefanny Irawan – translator of Daughters of Papua (Tanah Tabu):

It was one of the most unforgettable experience I have ever had. Meeting new people who were eager to discuss Indonesian literature I had translated was surely exciting. We had good, meaningful conversations not just about the work but also about Indonesian culture and society in general. As an Indonesian and a translator, this whole experience is invaluable.

It has been swell! I wish we had more time to explore the SF Bay Area.

A whole beach full of pebbles? Wow.

It’s my first and I made a happy pumpkin!

Erni Aladjai – author of Kei (Kei):

I learned a lot about American attitude from people like Julie and Tamara. Once they committed to help they gave it their all. It was a great experience to be welcomed with such interest in our work.
Our visit to the Alcatraz prison was the most enlightening for me. It caused me to reflect and be thankful for all that I have, my freedom and my independence.

Nurhayat Indriyatno Mohamed – translator of Kei (Kei):

I went on this trip feeling that I would be contributing to a wider understanding of Indonesian literature, and was pleasantly surprised to go home feeling intellectually, morally and spiritually enriched. Bu Lian for the Nobel Prize!

I particularly liked the excursion to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. Nothing says “San Francisco” quite like the Golden Gate Bridge. Walking across the bridge, with the city skyline in full, panoramic view the entire time, was a special experience. Being trained in engineering, I also have an appreciation for just how much of a technical marvel the bridge is even today and especially when it was first built.

Walking through The Big Basin redwood forest was an amazing experience. Just to be among these gigantic trees and knowing that they’ve stood there for centuries, some of them were there even before the arrival of Columbus to the New World, is a humbling experience and just goes to show how small we are in the grand scheme of things.

For sheer scenic beauty there is little that can compare to the sunset we enjoyed at the pebble beach of Point Lobos. The colors were enchanting and the play of light across the water and rocks made for a beautiful, almost tactile visual experience.

September 28 – October 3, 2015
A Taste of Indonesian Literature – An unprecedented event featuring Indonesian writers and their translators visiting the San Francisco Bay Area under the auspices of their American publisher

By Gemah Rahardjo

We recently brought two Indonesian authors, Erni Aladjai (Kei) and Anindita S. Thayf (Daughters of Papua), and their translators, Nurhayat Indriyatno Muhamed and Stefanny Irawan respectively, to present their work in the San Francisco Bay Area through a series of presentations titled, A Taste of Indonesian Literature. Nearly a year in the making, the highly successful presentations included a series of book discussions, Q&A sessions, and book signings at bookstores, public libraries, and renowned universities, culminating in a reception at the Indonesian Consul General’s mansion.

Forest Books in San Francisco had the honor of hosting the first in the series of events. This special bookstore, located in the city’s Japan Town, boasts an impressive collection of rare books. Store owner Gregory Wood handpicks every title, and we at Dalang Publishing are grateful and proud that Forest Books carries all our titles.
F. Bernard Loesi, Consul for Information and Socio-Cultural Affairs at the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in San Francisco, honored us with his presence and provided the opening remarks.

The SF Examiner announced the event.

Professor Christian Jochim of San Jose State University and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library hosted the second event. Several SJSU faculty members attended, and we were also honored by the presence of Prof. Danilyn Rutherford of UC Santa Cruz, who wrote the back cover endorsement for Daughters of Papua.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. public library in the heart of San Jose offers an international section devoted to literature from around the world. Upon visiting the Southeast Asian section, we were disappointed to find only two rather small Indonesian-English dictionaries on the shelf dedicated to Indonesian literature. Emily Chan, the librarian who conducted our tour of the facilities, said they had never been offered original works of Indonesian literature and she did not know where to start looking.
Ibu Lian immediately offered to provide the original Indonesian language versions of the eight titles in Dalang’s catalogue, the English versions of which the library already carried. When Ms. Chan accepted the offer on the spot, we cheered this historic and proud moment for all of us. In the near future, the original Indonesian-language versions of Dalang’s publications will sit proudly on the shelf marked “Indonesia.”

On the third day of the tour we visited Berkeley.
The event at UC Berkeley was hosted by Ibu Ninik Lunde, a Bahasa Indonesia lecturer at the university. Professor Sylvia Tiwon, who wrote the back-cover endorsement for Kei, and Virginia Shih, the librarian in charge of the university’s Southeast Asian collection, were among the attendees, along with other faculty and students, most of whom were Indonesian. The seating around a large table was conducive to the relaxed atmosphere of a large meeting and focused on discussion of the novels Kei and Daughters of Papua. As the attendees enjoyed the lemper, kue pastel and kerupuk, Indonesian snacks we provided, the warm sense of camaraderie in the room offset the cold drizzle outside.

After the event, we had to rush off to a lunch invitation from a group of mostly American enthusiasts of Bahasa Indonesia. Julie Anderson, our generous hostess and facilitator of the group, welcomed us warmly, along with other members of her group. We were treated to a potluck meal the members had prepared, and truly enjoyed the opportunity to sample different delights of American home cooking.

University Press Books, a bookstore near the UC Berkeley campus, hosted us later that evening. The event was well attended by reading enthusiasts interested in stories from and about Indonesia and its history. A lively discussion followed the presentation.

Friday, October 2, was our fourth day of events. This time we were at the Foster City Library. This large, comfortable, and neatly laid-out public library offered a great environment to enjoy books. Librarian Cynthia Rider, a staunch supporter of Dalang Publishing, was our gracious hostess. She provided a warm welcome and introduced us to the audience comprised of two local authors, book club facilitators, and avid readers. Cynthia’s warmth and grace were a wonderful addition to the event.

Jane Johnson welcomed us in her home for a presentation to her book club. Everyone enjoyed the cross culture interaction and engaged in a lively discussion of the work.

The Wisma Indonesia in San Francisco was the ideal location to finish our series of presentations on A Taste of Indonesian Literature in the SF Bay Area. We are honored and grateful, and consider the invitation to hold our closing event at the Wisma a significant token of the Indonesian government’s support for Dalang Publishing’s endeavors to promote Indonesian literature. In his opening remarks Consul General Ardi Hermawan acknowledged the importance of the events of the past week and expressed his good wishes to the group, as well as his hope that A Taste of Indonesian Literature would be followed by many similar events.

We ended our work week with a dinner at the Cliff House.

Anindita S. Thayf
Anindita S. Thayf, the author of Daughters of Papua (Tanah Tabu), courageously brought to light the story of the suffering and subjugation of the people of Papua’s Baliem Valley caused by Freeport, a giant US mining company. Anin revealed that it was the women and children who bore the brunt of the suffering. “We in Indonesia have created a situation where women are submissive and obedient to men. We allow this notion to dictate our lives; we accept this condition as something that will never change. But the truth is that everything can be changed,” Anin stated during a Q&A session.
Author Story interviewed Anin: Read the Interview.

Erni Aladjai
Erni Aladjai, the talented young author of Kei (Kei), chose to focus on the issue of sectarian violence in the Kei Islands in the late nineties. What makes her take on the issue intriguing is that she looks beyond the sectarian angle and raises the importance of the tenets of Ken Saa Faak as instrumental in allowing the people of Kei to regain peace. Ken Saa Faak, a set of traditional tenets of wisdom practiced for generations by the local islanders, in this case was able to quell the violence brought about by religious differences without the need for outside interference. “In addition to this, I want my book to inform its readers, especially those outside of Indonesia, that among the 17,000 Indonesian islands, there are these two tiny islands called the Kei islands,” Erni said.

Stefanny Irawan
Stefanny Irawan, the translator of Daughters of Papua, captivated the audience with her dramatic reading. For Stef, a translator’s talent is revealed in the way he or she is able to convey local or regional concepts to foreign readers without compromising the author’s voice or the ambience of the story.
Author Story interviewed Stef: Read the Interview.

Nurhayat Indriyatno Mohamed
Nurhayat Indriyatno Mohamed, better known as Hayat, is the translator of Kei (Kei). With his fluent English and easy manner, he easily connected with the audience. Hayat explained that the time element is the main challenge he faces when translating Indonesian into English. Given that Bahasa Indonesia does not have tenses like the English language, the time aspect in any narrative must be translated with care.

At the conclusion of each of our events we came away with the sense that Indonesian literature remains an exotic beast for most Americans, and that Indonesian books are difficult to obtain. This is not because Indonesian literature is unable to hold its own on the global stage, but because so little has been done to provide and support accurate translations.

In addition to good writing, hard work, and of course efforts to engage as much as possible with the literary community in America, there still needs to be greater moral support from the government and people of Indonesia in order to achieve the dream of showcasing Indonesian literature globally. Recognition of and pride in a nation’s literature can only be achieved through heightened awareness and with the support of its people.

A Taste of Indonesian Literature Today was our attempt to introduce Indonesian literature to readers in the San Francisco Bay Area by providing a venue for talented young writers and their translators to present their work to the public. We take pride in knowing that our publications represent the very best of Indonesian talent. The authors, the translators, and even the cover designers, are all Indonesian.