Makassar Launch, 18 May 2016

Tema mengupayakan keberanian untuk hidup sesuai pilihanmu, untuk merasa dirimu punya harga diri meskipun berbeda dengan mayoritas, dirimu layak dicintai biarpun orang-orang bilang dirimu rusak—apakah itu hanya masalah pribadi? Tidak, itu pun politis. Karena merasa memiliki harga diri memberdayakan kita. Kita jadi punya keberanian untuk mengangkat suara, untuk menceritakan kisah kita, untuk tidak lagi menerima diskriminasi atau penindasan.

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.

Manila Launch, 23 October 2015

In the Age newspaper just last week this book was reviewed with the opening line: “most Australian readers of this novel will be ashamed to realise how little most of us know about Indonesia.” And the closing line: “This novel is a compelling read: the plot is unpredictable and the writing full of energy.” I agree wholeheartedly. It was a great read. It taught me so much as an Australian about one our nearest neighbours.

Frankfurt Launch, 17 October 2015

As the nation struggled to determine what Indonesia should look like during Reformasi and beyond, these two characters were also struggling to determine what they wanted to be. More than just a love story, this novel is very smart with a very interesting structure, going back and forth in time and mixing epistolary form of emails and text messages with chronological narration.

Oslo Launch, 25 September 2015

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?

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.