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Ayu Utami

(West Java, Indonesia, 1968) is a leading voice among the new generation of Indonesian artists and writers emerging after the fall of Suharto. Utami was born in Bogor and grew up in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. She studied Russian language and literature. During her college years she had already begun publishing reports and essays in various newspapers. She has been a journalist for various Indonesian magazines, including Humor, Matra, Forum Keadilan, and D&R. Shortly after Suharto banned three magazines in 1994, Ayu joined Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (Independent Journalist Alliance) in protesting the ban. She continued her journalistic work underground, which included the anonymous publication of a black book on corruption in the Suharto regime. Utami's first novel, Saman, appeared in 1998, only a few weeks before the fall of Suharto, helping to signal the changing cultural and political landscape in Indonesia. The novel caused a sensation, and controversy, among Indonesian artists and intellectuals. It was acclaimed by many reviews and was considered as a new milestone in Indonesian literature. Saman has sold over 100,000 copies and been reprinted 34 times. The sequel to Saman, Larung was published in 2001. Her new play and book protesting anti-pornography legislation, Pengadilan Susila (Susila's Trial) appeared in 2008. Ayu Utami currently works for Radio 68H, an independent news radio station that is broadcast all over the country as well as a writer for the cultural journal Kalam and in Teater Utan Kayu/Teater Salihara in Jakarta.

(WN/Wikipedia 2009)

Archive available for: Ayu Utami

  • Winternachten 2002

    Live Anthology: taboos of love and literature

    With: Antjie Krog, Ayu Utami, Basil Appollis, Ernest Pépin, Fouad Laroui, Frank Martinus Arion, Gerrit Komrij, Manon Uphoff, Michaël Zeeman, Pauline Melville

    'These are the same people who used to think that anything goes and everything should be allowed. Now they want to prohibit everything which they suspect might bring enjoyment to someone else' (Gerrit Komrij).
    Maybe 'taboo' is the most culturally specific notion possible. In the Netherlands, taboos in love or literature seem out of date since the 1960s. But in South Africa, a novel about homosexuality comes as a shock, and a South African makes internationally controversial movies about power, love and violence. Cultures collide when talking about taboos, so this should be a great starting point for a discussion with a collection of internationally renowned authors. This afternoon, eight writers read their favorite fragments from world literature with the theme of the taboo. In the ensuing conversation, the boundaries of culture and religion become apparent. Dutch/English spoken.

  • Winternachten 2002 – Winternacht 1

    Poetry from Madura and Yogyakarta

    Zawawi Imron is one of the foremost poets/performers from Indonesia. He invariably manages to captivate his audience, thanks to the impressive performance of his epic poems. He lives on Madura, a small island east of Java.
    Joko Pinurbo (Yogyakarta) is a newcomer in Indonesian poetry, and in a short while he grew to become one of the most influential poets. His love poetry often has a light tone, which is supported by his special style of performing.
    Ayu Utami and Dorothea Rosa Herliany read from their work as well at the end of this Indonesian night. Indonesian/Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2002 – Winternacht 1

    Indonesian authors show unprecedented openness

    The two writers contributing to this program, describe love and female sexuality with an in Indonesia unprecedented openness. The poems of Dorothea Rosa Herliany show how women take the initiative in love, sometimes even with a hint of machismo. In the year 2000, Winternachten introduced Ayu Utami in The Netherlands. She then read from her groundbreaking novel Saman. This resulted in a Dutch translation a year later. She now published her second novel in Indonesia, Larung, from which she read at this festival. Dutch/Indonesian spoken.

  • Tournee NL 2002

    Winternachten Amsterdam

    With: Ayu Utami, D Zawawi Imron, Dorothea Rosa Herliany, Henk Maier, Joko Pinurbo

    An evening in the KIT Tropentheater with the four Indonesian guests of Winternachten. Professor Henk Maier talked to writers and poets of different generations on their work, on recent developments in Indonesian literature, the influence of the new liberties on literature, and the theme of 'passion and love'. Language: Indonesian/Dutch.

  • Tournee NL 2002

    Winternachten Den Bosch

    With: Annel de Noré, Antjie Krog, Ayu Utami, Ed van Eeden, Hagar Peeters

    How do women write about love? Female writers from four continents spoke about the way they describe passion and love in their prose and poetry. "Love builds itself a Hell, in spite of Heaven.", writes Annel de Noré from Surinam. "An end to writing poetry on love for today", states poet Hagar Peeters, when writing threatens to replace love itself. An evening in Theater Bis in Den Bosch.

  • Tournee NL 2002

    Winternachten Utrecht

    With: Annel de Noré, Ayu Utami, Ed van Eeden, Frank Martinus Arion, Manon Uphoff

    Love builds itself a Hell, in spite of Heaven. This motto of the Surinamese writer Annel de Noré sounds wonderful, but wouldn't we all like to know what that hell would look like? Does the underworld know its limits, geografical and sexual? Does it acknowledge traditions and cultural differences, and, above all, is everyone allowed to do it with everyone else or is this hell a place of sexual abstainers? Four authors from four continents discussed these questions. An evening in Boekhandel Broese, organized in co-operation with Stichting Literaire Activiteiten Utrecht.

  • Winternachten 2000 – Winternacht 1

    Indonesia: Writers of Freedom

    Writer/journalist Goenawan Mohamad; Ayu Utami, a young writer who with her first bestseller novel broke sexual taboos, and Sitok Srengenge, a performing poet from Jakarta. He travelled Aceh and East Timor and reported of his experiences in his poems. Just like three years ago at the Winternachten festival, Sitok Srengenge made an impressive performance. Hosted by Kees Snoek. English/Indonesian spoken.