In a country as diverse as Indonesia—with hundreds of ethnicities, many faiths, and with an authoritarian history, it can be difficult to talk about controversial issues. Since the fall of the New Order, Indonesia has taken steps to guarantee freedom of expression. Unfortunately, laws that contradict those steps have also been passed.
After warnings from local police, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2015 has had to cancel the launch of Eliza Vitri Handayani’s novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different.
Love, freedom, and identity are all connected. If we have freed ourselves from a repressive regime, from unfair social norms, can we be free to be who we are? Can we break free from our own fears, from our own past? Are we free to choose what kind of person we want to be?
My characters and I grew up under the New Order, which enforced uniformity. Just as they were graduating college and it was time for them to enter the real world, there were all these new freedoms. Now they could be different, they didn’t have to fear censorship or persecution anymore. But as the euphoria passed, they realized there was still a lot of challenges, and they still had to face their own fears and self-destructive habits. By drawing parallels between my character’s endeavors to realize themselves and Indonesia’s efforts towards democracy, I want to write a story about how to break free and be loved for who you are.
As democratic reforms swept Indonesia in the late nineties, the nation’s young generation asked themselves: what does it mean to be free? This novel is a compelling study of freedom and love, community and conformity, told with humour, sensuality and a subtly sharp political intelligence.
Seraya Indonesia menjelang demokrasi pada akhir ’90-an, generasi muda bertanya: apa makna kebebasan? Seorang laki-laki dan seorang perempuan mendambakan kebebasan untuk jadi diri sendiri, meskipun itu berarti hidup di luar norma-norma masyarakat dan budaya.