Footprints / Tapak Tilas, a bilingual compilation of short stories published by Dalang Publishing, provides its English-speaking readers with a clear picture of Indonesia’s people and culture through easy-to-read yet thought-provoking prose. Equally important is that because the original stories and their translations are featured side-by-side, the book is also a valuable teaching tool of both the Indonesian and English languages. Aside from the aforementioned qualities, Footprints / Tapak Tilas can be recommended as a bilingual reference book, not only because of its rich cultural content, but also because the publication has maintained the integrity of both languages.
I express my profound and sincere appreciation for Dalang Publishing’s tireless efforts to honor and execute the purpose of the Indonesian language, which is to serve as a linguistic intermediary between regions. The stories published in Footprints / Tapak Tilas are proof of these efforts. Hopefully, this publication will be followed by similar works on the world’s literary stage.
⸺ E. Aminudin Aziz
Head of Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa Kemendikbudristek
With Footprints / Tapak Tilas, Dalang Publishing and Lian Gouw, its tireless founder and driving spirit, commemorate ten productive years of storytelling. The book’s title is particularly apt because the collection offers a magnanimous bounty of short stories that invite the reader to explore myriad paths that traverse the diverse and often intriguing literary landscape of Indonesia. Many of these paths make unexpected twists and turns that confound easy generalizations about the Indonesian people, their cultures, and histories. Particularly noteworthy is the geographical range represented by the inclusion of stories from places like Southwest Sulawesi and the interior of Central Kalimantan, towns and villages still fairly remote from the glittering hustle of urban centers. On this journey, we encounter deep concerns about the precarity of nature and the indigenous peoples whose age-old ways and wisdoms are as threatened as the environment in which they live. A bilingual tour-de-force, this work is a useful sourcebook for learners of Indonesian language and culture.
⸺ Sylvia Tiwon, Associate Professor, Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California at Berkeley
Rarely do works of literary translation call attention to the mechanics of the act of translation. And too often, literary translations are applauded for their “seamlessness” — that is, their ability to fool the reader into thinking they are reading a work in its original language rather than a translated rendition of that work. Footprints / Tapak Tilas engages in no such trickery. The Indonesian-language originals and English-language translations are published side-by-side. What results is an immensely valuable work for aspiring translators of Indonesian literature.
Even as an experienced translator, I learned a lot, not only from comparing the original versions of the stories with their English translations, but also by comparing different translators’ methods and different writers’ styles. Aspiring Indonesian writers will also benefit greatly from reading this anthology. It affords the opportunity to compare writers’ voices from various historical periods, locations, and perspectives — and to sharpen one’s own writing voice in response.
⸺ Tiffany Tsao, Literary Translator and Author
The stories in this collection offer glimpses into the variety of perspectives and voices of Indonesian life during different phases in history. Some represent an in-depth look at well-known historical moments through the eyes of figures inhabiting the peripheries of Indonesian society; others present Indonesian lives that have been completely disregarded in the mainstream collective memory of the Indonesian people. These stories, written in the original Indonesian language, represent the richly diverse landscapes of Indonesian culture and society ⸺ the English translation versions, each having gone through a careful and rigorous process, enhance the journey into the Indonesian imagination. As such, these stories, previously published on the Dalang Publishing website, serve as an anamnestic means to fill the gaps erased or left empty by the complex and often traumatic experiences Indonesian society has undergone from early colonial times to the present. Indonesian readers will gain insight as to who they are and who they may be, while others will see how Indonesian life intersects with theirs as fellow human beings.
⸺ Ari J. Adipurwawidjana, Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung
New literary writing is important, as it not only reflects on life, but often offers hope to those in the midst of struggling with real-life issues. The stories in this compilation have been written in such a way that they invite the reader to either simply enjoy the read or become actively engaged in the characters’ roles. The story about an underground radio broadcast during Indonesia’s Revolution for Independence, after more than seven decades, is still capable of reopening old wounds. Stories about a backyard tree and bittersweet memories of past family events will resonate with many, while stories about bird calls along a riverbank and the silence of a deserted beach will surely turn the heads of many environmentalists.
Readers of Footprints / Tapak Tilas will not only enjoy a good read, but will also experience how fiction evokes new perspectives through stories grounded in history, culture and the environment.
⸺ Benny Arnas, Author and Literary Activist