NT Writers Festival: Wordstorm 2016

May 5-8 Eka Kurniawan and I attended Wordstorm, Northern Territories Writers Festival in Darwin, Australia. We talked about political change in Indonesia, female sexuality, freedom and its costs, and censorship.

Jakarta Launch, 24 February 2016

Celebrate the launch of Eliza Vitri Handayani’s novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different, finally launched in Jakarta. With Kartika Jahja, Dinda Kanyadewi, Sakdiyah Ma’ruf, Jewel Topsfield, Olin Monteiro, and Vendy Methodos.

Us + Them

She eyed the sweaty strangers around them, tearing off pieces of flesh, crunching into crackers, red sauce dripping from their fingers. Every now and then a lone grain of rice or shred of onion would cling to the corner of their lips, like a lonely outcast or scapegoat, only to be obliterated with a swipe of their greasy hands.

Ubud Launch Cancelation and A Peaceful Protest

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.

Beijing Launch, 4 September 2015

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.

From Now on Everything will be Different (excerpt)

How was it possible that these people, after three decades of silence and obedience and fear, now found the courage to protest? These people were so used to submitting to fate. How had they decided that they could break the course of History? The protests impressed him profoundly as the first confirmation that one could indeed bring about change. He would never forget how, along with the sound of thousands of students marching, he had heard God lovingly whisper in his ear, ‘You too can change your life’s course.’