The victims speak

The Years of the Voiceless
By Okky Madasari
(Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 2013, 264pp)

Reviewed by Keith Loveard

The Soeharto era represents a rich storehouse for works of both fiction and nonfiction. At the same time, so few works of fiction written in the Indonesian language have been translated into English that any entrant to the market should be warmly applauded. When such a work of fiction takes on the legacy of Soeharto seen from the eyes of the people he ruled, it is essential that it provide not only appeal for the reader but also a degree of historical accuracy.

History, it is said, is written by the victors. But when history is not about the results of great battles, but of the slow but steady domination of a nation by an increasingly powerful autocrat, the viewpoint of the “little people” cannot hope to account for every aspect of realities of the past, however. More

A small step of a longer journey

Okky Madasari at the launch of "The Years of the Voiceless", August 2013

When i wrote this novel 4 years ago, i did’t think it would be a start of my endless journey to become a novelist. That time i just wanted to write a novel – one novel of my own in my entire life, so i could say “I have a book that i write myself.”

But in the process, i found that writing novel is more than just proving i could make a book. Writing novel is not about myself. And writing novel is not a job nor duty so i can say “I finished. I have a book by myself already.” More

Women Find Their Voice In a Powerful Java Tale

By | July 26, 2013

Okky Madasari

Although author Okky Madasari won the prestigious Indonesian Khatulistiwa Literary Award for her novel “Maryam” last year, her name might not ring many bells beyond the country’s borders. Not yet, anyway.

With the translation of Okky’s novel “Entrok” (2010) into English by Hayat Indriyatno under the title “The Years of the Voiceless,” recently published by Gramedia, this gifted writer is poised to make an impact on the literary world abroad.

The story begins in the 1950s in Singget, a village in Central Java, where Marni and her mother make a living by helping vendors at a local market.

Marni dreams of being able to buy an “entrok” (Javanese for bra). Her desire to own this exquisite piece of clothing turns into utter determination to make something more out of her life than just scraping by.

Marni eventually becomes a wealthy woman, but is always regarded with a hint of suspicion and jealousy by the other people in her village.

Her daughter Rahayu grows up under different circumstances: she is able to attend school and plans to go to university. But with higher education comes different convictions: Rahayu is a firm believer in Islam, while the illiterate Marni still follows the “old way” of worshipping her ancestors, making her a sinner in her daughter’s eyes. More