ARTICLE (re-post): WHY YOU SHOULD READ INDONESIA’S “THIS EARTH OF MANKIND” by Max Lane

“In January 2014 Joshua Oppenheimer’s film on Indonesia, The Act of Killing, was nominated for an academy award, reflecting its penetration into mainstream film watching. Many people will be introduced to Indonesia by this vivid study of the country’s ruling lumpen elite. Another, very different, introduction to Indonesia might be reading Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s historical novel Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind).

The English language edition of This Earth of Mankind was published by Penguin in 1983. The sequels to this novel, Child of All Nations, Footsteps and House of Glass, were published over the following several years by Penguin in Australia and the United Kingdom. They were launched into the United States by William Morrow, Hyperion and Penguin in the 1990s. As their translator, I am very pleased to see that they are still in print 30 years later, having had many reprints. The four novels are likely to appear soon as eBooks, Penguin USA having bought the eBook rights. They appear already to be advertised as eBooks for Kindle on Amazon.com.

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Pramoedya’s work has, on the whole, met with critical acclaim in the West, in particular the United States. The publication of other translations followed, such as Silent Songs of a Mute,Fugitive, Girl from the Coast and collections of short stories. In 1992 the New York Times reviewer wrote:

Now comes a book of far greater scope and depth from independent Indonesia’s greatest but still most controversial fiction writer, whose career spans more than 40 years. “This Earth of Mankind,” the first in a cycle of four novels, is the tale of a bittersweet coming of age in Java, Indonesia’s dominant island, almost a century ago. Through it, we are taken back to the days of nascent Indonesian nationalism. But the author is a humanist, not a propagandist, and so his novel is also a wonderful example of the best storytelling tradition of his country.[1]

In 1996, after House of Glass appeared, the Washington Post reviewer wrote:

The Buru Tetralogy is one of the 20th century’s great artistic creations, a work of the richest variety, color, size and import, founded on a profound belief in mankind’s potential for greatness and shaped by a huge compassion for mankind’s weakness.[2]

Jamie James in his article “The Indonesiad” in The New Yorker wrote:

Pramoedya’s masterwork is the Buru Quartet, a cycle of novels set in the final, decadent years of Dutch colonialism in Java. The series follows the life of a revolutionary journalist named Minke. The first native Javanese boy to attend the elite Dutch colonial high school, Minke is full of idealistic notions about European progress. The process of his disillusionment and forging of his Indonesian identity – a new element in the periodic table of history – [forms] the novels’ core. The Buru Quartet is saturated with the gothic gloom and steamy atmosphere of the rain forest. With the publication this month, by William Morrow, of the quartet’s final volume, “House of Glass,” and the paperback reissue, by Penguin, of its predecessors, “This Earth of Mankind,” “Child of All Nations,” and “Footsteps,” American readers can now follow Pramoedya’s saga of Minke – one of the most ambitious undertakings in postwar world literature – from beginning to end.[3]

Continue reading “ARTICLE (re-post): WHY YOU SHOULD READ INDONESIA’S “THIS EARTH OF MANKIND” by Max Lane”

Article: Old Politics Rises to Challenge New Politics in Jakarta by Max Lane

Published Singapore  22 November 2016 in ISEAS Perspectives  CLICK here to read.

Panel INDONESIA’S SPECTRE OF THE PAST, Singapore Writers Festival 2016

3 Panels

(1) INDONESIA’S SPECTRE OF THE PAST

13 Nov, Sun 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

The Arts House, Blue Room
MODERATED BY Md Imran Md Taib

DESCRIPTION

Writer-translator Max Lane introduced the ground-breaking works of Pramoedya Ananta Toer to the English-speaking world; and writes about his extensive experience in Indonesia, especially during the Suharto period. Highly influenced by Tintin comics, Peter van Dongen’s acclaimed works are set during Indonesia’s transition from colonialism to independence. Both authors will speak about their creative engagements with Indonesian history.

FEATURING
Peter van Dongen

Holland

Peter van Dongen is a Dutch comic artist and illustrator. His acclaimed graphic novels Rampokan Java (1998) and Rampokan Celebes (2004) are set in the time of the Revolution in Indonesia and were translated into French, German, Bahasa Indonesia and English. Co-designed by Joost Swarte, Rampokan Java was awarded the 1999 Dutch Prize for Best Book Design. Current projects by Van Dongen include a graphic novel adaptation of Familieziek (Repatriated) by Adriaan van Dis and a collaboration with Teun Berserik to illustrate a two-part adventure of Blake & Mortimer, a quintessentially British detective duo created by Edgar P Jacobs.

Peter van Dongen is featured in the following SWF event(s):

Panel PIECING HISTORIES TOGETHER
Max Lane

Indonesia

Max Lane has been writing and speaking about political and cultural developments in Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor Leste and Australia since 1970. He is the translator of several of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s works including This Earth Of Mankind and the Buru Quartet He has also translated the works of WS Rendra. Indonesia And Not: Poems And Otherwise – Anecdotes Scattered, a collection of poems and prose pieces is published this year. Also in 2016, he is publishing in Indonesian a collection of essays on Pramoedya Ananta Toer. He is currently a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, but spends most of his time in Indonesia.

https://www.singaporewritersfestival.com/nacswf/nacswf/programme-listing/festival-events/Panel-INDONESIA-S-SPECTRE-OF-THE-PAST.html

ALSO:

Panel TRANSLATING THE UNTRANSLATABLE

12 Nov, Sat 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
The Arts House, Play Den
FESTIVAL PASS EVENT

Panel AGIT-LIT: TRANSLATORS AS ACTIVISTS?

12 Nov, Sat 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM
The Arts House, Chamber
FESTIVAL PASS EVENT

INDONESIA AND NOT: POEMS AND OTHERWISE: Anecdotes Scattered Author: Max Lane

Singapore Writers Festival Book launch:

 INDONESIA AND NOT: POEMS AND OTHERWISE: Anecdotes Scattered

Author: Max Lane

DATE / TIME: 6 Nov, Sun 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

VENUE:  The Arts House, Gallery II, Singapore

This is a collection of poetry, prose pieces and short stories inspired by the experiences of Max Lane, translator of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Buru Quartet and collaborator with other Indonesian and Southeast Asian intellectuals and actors in Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.

inanot_social-media-promocover-poems

The book launch will comprise:

An IN CONVERSATION session with author Max Lane. Lane will talk about his 45 years of experience with Indonesia and Southeast Asian and its relationship to this collection as well as his work on a major creative non-fiction book on the origins and meaning for Indonesia of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s This Earth of Mankind Buru Quartet novels.

But there is also a second Max Lane, a Singaporean, a musician. He has written music to some of the poetry. There will be some playing of these musicalized poems. (see below for more info). Continue reading “INDONESIA AND NOT: POEMS AND OTHERWISE: Anecdotes Scattered Author: Max Lane”

Singapore Book Launch Update for INDONESIA AND NOT: POEMS AND OTHERWISE.

Singapore Writers Festival Book launch:

 INDONESIA AND NOT: POEMS AND OTHERWISE: Anecdotes Scattered

Author: Max Lane

DATE / TIME: 6 Nov, Sun 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

VENUE:  The Arts House, Gallery II, Singapore

This is a collection of poetry, prose pieces and short stories inspired by the experiences of Max Lane, translator of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Buru Quartet and collaborator with other Indonesian and Southeast Asian intellectuals and actors in Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.

The book launch will comprise:

An IN CONVERSATION session with author Max Lane. Lane will talk about his 45 years of experience with Indonesia and Southeast Asian and its relationship to this collection as well as his work on a major creative non-fiction book on the origins and meaning for Indonesia of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s This Earth of Mankind Buru Quartet novels.

But there is also a second Max Lane, a Singaporean, a musician. He has written music to some of the poetry. There will be some playing of these musicalized poems. (see below for more info). Continue reading “Singapore Book Launch Update for INDONESIA AND NOT: POEMS AND OTHERWISE.”