Face of Indonesia in literary works

These three novels highlight Indonesia and how Indonesians cope with authoritarian regime, modernism and capitalism as well as nation building, including when they have to deal with differences in religions, ideologies, ethnicities and even races since after the independence from the colonial powers until today. The first novel, The Years of the Voiceless tells a story of a difficult relation between a mother and her daughter during a time under Suharto’s totalitarian regime. The second novel, The Outcast, highlights the plight of the banned Islamic sect, Ahmadiyah, in Indonesia through the eyes of an Ahmadi woman. The third novel, Bound, describes how a transgender fights for her freedom, and in general how Indonesians deal with transgender issues, minority groups and religious extremism.

The novels were launched at Arts House Singapore, July 17th 2014, hosted by Asia Pacific Writers & Translators Association.

Okky Madasari at her books launching in Singapore, July 2014

Kekuasaan dan Kebebasan

Apa yang paling dibutuhkan dalam proses berpikir? Kebebasan. Apa yang paling dibutuhkan untuk berkarya? Kebebasan. Apa yang jadi syarat utama kemajuan sebuah peradaban? Kebebasan. Dan apa yang paling ditakutkan oleh kekuasaan? Kebebasan.

Sejarah perjuangan manusia adalah sejarah merebut kebebasan, sementara sejarah kekuasaan adalah rangkaian pengaturan dan kontrol atas kehidupan banyak orang. Di tengah tarik-menarik itu, kebudayaan – antara lain melalui wujudnya: pemikiran, bahasa, karya seni – menjadi medan pertarungan. More


Does free will truly exist? Does man truly exist?

Okky Madasari explores the seminal questions of mankind and humanity in her latest novel.

A struggle arises between the two main characters, Sasana and Jaka Wani, in the search for freedom from all restraints––from those of the mind and body, to restraints imposed by tradition and family, society and religion, to economic domination and the shackles of authority.

*) BOUND is the english edition of Pasung Jiwa. Avalaible July 3rd in bookstores, online bookstores, amazon.com, etc

Kapitalisme, Islam, dan Sastra Perlawanan

Tesis ini membongkar bagaimana kekuasaan bekerja membentuk diskursus arus utama novel-novel Indonesia hari ini. Melalui Foucauldian discourse analysis, ditelusuri asal-usul terbentuknya diskursus dominan dalam tiga genre novel: novel islami, percintaan, dan perlawanan. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa kapitalisme bersama-sama dengan negara menjadi aktor utama pembentuk diskursus utama. Novel islami yang pada awalnya otonom, pada akhirnya pun harus tunduk dan berkompromi dengan kepentingan kapitalisme dan negara demi tetap mendapat ruang dalam wacana arus utama. Sumbangan utama tesis ini adalah membuka diskusi kritis terhadap diskursus kesusastraan Indonesia seraya memberi pemahaman bahwa ruang perlawanan senantiasa terbuka, baik terhadap wacana kesusastraan itu sendiri maupun terhadap kekuasaan pada umumnya.

Capitalism, Islam and Critical Literature

This thesis aims to find out and explain how power works to form Indonesia’s existing novels currently become the main/ruling discourses within the society.Using Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, the thesis seek to find the origins of the formation of dominant discourse in three novel genres: Islamic, romance and critical/debunking novels. The research finds that capitalism together with the state become the two main factors behind the creation of such main discourses. Islamic novels which were autonomous at the initial stage later fell into the trap of capitalism and compromised itself and were cooptated to serve the interest of capitalists, markets and the state in an attempt to stay in the main discourse. The Islamic novels even form a coalition with the two actors in one ultimate goal of creating the main discourse which is seen beneficial for all of them. The main contribution of this thesis is allowing and opening critical discussion on main discourses in Indonesian literature while providing an insight and understanding that there will always be room of resistance and being critical against ruling discourses within te country’s literature as well as against power in general.

*) Tesis ini bisa diakses di perpustakaan UI dan akan segera diterbitkan dalam versi buku.

Belenggu Kekuasaan dalam Imaji Sastra

Siapakah aku ini? Siapakah aku?

Demikian baris penutup dalam novel Shanghai Baby (1999) karya Wei Hui. Sebuah pertanyaan eksistensialis – pertanyaan mendasar yang terus diajukan manusia sepanjang keberadaannya di dunia.

Pertanyaan itu terus menggelayut dalam benak Nikki, tokoh utama dalam novel tersebut. Nikki, perempuan 25 tahun itu menatap nanar gemerlap kemajuan Shanghai sekaligus memandang enggan jejak-jejak masa lalu Shanghai. Ia berdiri di perbatasan, terombang-ambing dalam kebingungan, sembari terus bertanya: Siapakah aku? More

The Outcast

She has been accused of heresy since she was born. She has been considered deviant and must be excommunicated. On behalf of faith and love, her marriage is sacrificed. On behalf of God, she and her family were expelled, and their home was destroyed. It has been seven years now that Maryam and hundreds of others live in a refugee camp at a small and cramped government-owned building in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
The story of Maryam is a sad tragedy within a country full of beauty. What they need is justice. How long should they wait? More


Was featured in Malaysian newspaper,

Berita Harian Malaysia, January 21 2014

and Reader’s Digest, January 2014 edition

Changing Indonesia One Fiction at a Time

By Sylviana Hamdani

Jakarta Globe /  December 18, 2013

Award-winning author Okky Madasari just published her latest novel, ‘Pasung Jiwa.’

There are books that you read to simply pass the time. Then, there are books so thrilling, you can’t put them down. They grip your heart and mind, take you to a new dimension and — when they finally release you back into reality — you know that you are a changed person.

“Pasung Jiwa” (“Soul Shackle”) is one of those rare gems.

The novel was written by award-winning novelist Okky Madasari within the course of six months, in which she “totally immersed herself in the story.”

The result is a 321 page novel that tells the intriguing life story of Sasa/Sasana, a transgender woman, who struggles to be herself. More

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