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Maria Matildis Banda

Maria Matildis Banda grew up in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, as the fourth daughter of twelve siblings. The two playgrounds she remembers most are the Kartini Field, in front of the local church, and the park beside the church, which was always filled with flowers. The Bajawa riverbank was a place to wash clothes, bathe, and fetch water, while the surrounding hills were a place to gather firewood with her siblings. Her childhood environment shaped her into a hard worker who is sensitive to and concerned about the environment.

As a child, Banda stuttered. This strengthened her passion for reading and writing, from elementary school through her doctoral education at the Cultural Studies Program, Faculty of Humanities, Udayana University, Denpasar. Since 1986, Banda has been a lecturer in the Indonesian Literature Program, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, at her alma mater.

In 2011, Banda received a scholarship to participate in the Sandwich Program, a three-month research period for doctorate candidates at Leiden Law School, Netherlands, where she studied Indonesian oral tradition and culture.

In 2014, she was invited to present on “Lota Script in Ende Flores” at the International Workshop on Endangered Scripts of Island Southeast Asia at Tokyo University, Japan. Banda has been an adjunct lecturer at FKIP UNDANA Kupang and the FKIP of the University of Flores in Ende, as well as a guest lecturer at the Catholic College of Philosophy (STFK) on the island of Flores.

As an author, Banda has won several short-story writing competitions, with many published in various magazines and public dailies.

In 2005, Banda began writing novels related to the local setting of the East Nusa Tenggara islands. Bulan Patah (Kanisius, 2021) focuses on a patriarchal culture and reproductive health in Ende, Flores.

Between 2017 and 2021, Banda wrote and self-published, in collaboration with the NTT Provincial Health Office, Wijaya Kusuma dari Kamar Nomor Tiga, a novel about maternal and child health in the grip of a patriarchal culture. She supported the self-publication of Suara Samudra (2017), a story about whaling in Lamalera, Lembata, Flores. In addition to writing novels with regional socio-cultural settings, Banda also researches and writes papers and journals on literature and oral tradition. Banda has written more than 1,000 Situation Parody articles in the daily Pos Kupang.

Pasola (Nusa Indah, 2023) is Banda’s most recent work. The novel chronicles the lives of the people of Southwest Sumba, who are heavily influenced by the annual celebrations of Bau Nyale — the catching of sea worms at dawn — followed by the Pasola, an equestrian dexterity competition that involves throwing blunted javelins to unhorse opponents. The English translation of Pasola, by Dalang Publishing, is forthcoming in the summer of 2024.

Banda is married to Dominikus Minggu Mere, Ph.D. They have five children: Carol Wojtila Petrus Advent Mere, MD; Mauren Tesalonika, MD; Yoseph Sinu; Arnolda Gala; Emerensiana Ere; and a beloved granddaughter, Camilla Matea Mere.

Maria Matildis Banda can be reached at:



Yuni Utami Asih

Yuni Utami Asih grew up in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, and is the eldest of four children. Since kindergarten, her father pampered little Yuni with reading materials, such as Bobo, a children’s magazine, fairy tales, and children’s stories. She continued her love of words by reading various genres of books, especially detective and allegorical novels. Apart from reading, she enjoys outdoor activities, such as camping and hiking, in a nearby forest in Pampang village, about twelve miles from her home.

Asih started teaching English in 1999 while working on her bachelor’s degree in the English Education Study Program at the Faculty of Teacher Training and Education, Mulawarman University, in Samarinda, Kalimantan Timur. She taught at several schools before becoming a lecturer at her alma mater in 2005.

Her love for teaching began in high school when she volunteered at an informal Al-Quran reading school for children in one of the small mosques in her neighborhood. This evoked her interest in continuing her education as a teacher.

During her doctoral education in English language teaching at the State University of Surabaya, in 2011, she received a Sandwich scholarship from the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture to deepen her research in phonology at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Upon completion of her doctorate, Asih spent most of her time teaching at her alma mater, facilitating several national teacher-training programs, and publishing papers on Applied Linguistics and English teaching.

Pasola is Asih’s first literary translation. It is a story with strong cultural elements set in Indonesia’s old-society background of the 1950s. These characteristics demanded a translator with high sensitivity in determining the narrative language to make sure it was appropriate to the societal setting. Moreover, maintaining the original nuance and tone of the text required extraordinary bilingual skills.

Asih works and lives with her husband and two children in Samarinda, Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia.

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