Melani Budianta, Ph.D., Professor of Literary & Cultural Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Universitas Indonesia:
Footprints is a carefully selected compilation of 49 bilingual-parallel short stories — Indonesian to English — published by Dalang Publishing over a span of ten years. The anthology is unique, as it gathers the work of authors, who are well known as well as newcomers, including one winner of a youth writing competition and a first-time writer. The selections move from the generation of Budi Darma and Mochtar Loebis to the next generation of Zen Hae and Linda Christanty to the current generation — a 12-year-old writer. Some stories were previously published; others are the output of creative writing workshops held by Dalang in collaboration with renowned Indonesian universities. By pulling all of these diverse stories together, this anthology signals that the world of fiction is eager to record the footprints of all who travel this path — young and old alike.
This bilingual-parallel publication also serves as an inspiration for translators to participate in introducing Indonesian fiction to the world. The featured translators include the experienced, the apprentices, and the alumni of Dalang workshops held in collaboration with their university. The voluntary and collective work of translating Indonesian stories into English shows an enthusiasm to promote Indonesian literature.
The collected stories encompass a wide variety of narrative styles, from the surrealistic, absurd, and mystical to the down-to-earth and slice-of-life writing. The story settings cover the colonial era up to the present. With stories from Aceh to Papua to as far as the New Zealand coast, Footprints reveals a myriad of complex social issues for the intellectual to examine and contemplate. One common theme is the compassion towards the marginalized and the downtrodden.
Footprints provides rich sources for coursework, in particular for gender and postcolonial studies. It also provides inspiring material for creative writing and translation studies. The book is a must-read resource for all: lecturers, students, writers, translators, humanitarian activists, and public servants.
E. Aminudin Aziz, Head of Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa Kemendikbudristek :
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.
Sylvia Tiwon, Associate Professor, Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California at Berkeley :
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.
Tiffany Tsao, Literary Translator and Author
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.
Ari J. Adipurwawidjana, Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung
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.
Benny Arnas, Author and Literary Activist
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.