Laksmi Pamuntjak and Hilde Janssen: Living in Indonesia during the 1965-1966 mass killings
A taboo in Indonesia: the mass murders during the change of political power between Sukarno and Suharto. In her novel The Question of Red (Amba), recently translated into Dutch, Indonesian author Laksmi Pamuntjak describes the events from the perspective of ordinary people in the form of a tragic love story. In doing so, she attempts to give new impetus to how Indonesians cope with this episode in recent history. Journalist and anthropologist Hilde Janssen will be conversing with her about her novel, under the direction of historian Remco Raben.
Laksmi Pamuntjak (Indonesia, 1971) published her debut novel Amba in 2012, which has since been published into English, German and Dutch. The novel is a modern version of the love story from the Mahabharata and is set against the background of the bloody events during the 'red scare' in Indonesia in 1965 and 1966. Pamuntjak, one of the few Indonesian writers to publish in English, made her international breakthrough in 2005 with her first collection of poems Ellipsis. She also publishes articles on art, literature, classical music, politics, film and food. Her second novel, Aruna dan Lidahnya, was published in 2014 and has since become a bestseller in Indonesia.
In her book Enkele reis Indonesië ('Single journey Indonesia') , which was published this year, Hilde Janssen wrote about this same turbulent time. In it she tells the historic tale of four Dutch women who moved to the new Republic of Indonesia in 1947 and married Indonesians. Like Pamuntjak, she describes how sweethearts become separated as a result of political developments. Janssen previously published Schaamte en Onschuld ('Shame and Innocence'). Het verdrongen oorlogsverleden van troostmeisjes in Indonesië (2010) ('The suppressed war record of Indonesian comfort women').
Remco Raben will lead the conversation between the two authors. He is an endowed professor of Colonial and Post-colonial Literature and Cultural History at the University of Amsterdam and conducts research into the decolonisation of the Dutch East Indies/Indonesia, colonial and revolutionary violence in Indonesia, cultures of remembrance and non-Western and colonial art history.
An evening event organised in collaboration with The Hague Library, Xander Publishers and the Read My World festival. The official language during this event shall be English. Book sales by Van Stockum Boekhandel.