Laksmi Pamuntjak spoke to Dr Natali Pearson about her career, the storytelling process, the challenges of translation, publishing, identity, women's rights and food, among others.
About Laksmi Pamuntjak:
Laksmi Pamuntjak is a bilingual Indonesian novelist, poet, journalist, essayist, and food critic. She writes opinion and features articles for numerous Indonesian publications as Tempo, the Jakarta Post and the Jakarta Globe, as well as international publications such as South China Morning Post, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Kulturaustausch, and Die Welt. She also writes op-eds on culture and politics for the Guardian.
Laksmi’s first bestselling novel, Amba/The Question of Red tells the modern story of two ill-starred lovers, Amba and Bhisma of the great Hindu epic Mahabharata, who were driven apart by one the bloodiest purges in the 20th century—the massacre of up to one million accused communists in Indonesia between 1965 and 1968.
The novel won Germany’s LiBeraturpreis 2016 and was named #1 on Germany’s Weltempfaenger list of the best works of fiction from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Arab World translated into German. The novel has been translated into several languages.
Laksmi’s second novel, Aruna dan Lidahnya, was a bestseller in Indonesia and published in the US in February 2018 under the title The Birdwoman’s Palate. The movie adaptation of the novel won two Piala Citra (Festival Film Indonesia) awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor.
Laksmi is also the author of three collections of poetry: Ellipsis, The Anagram and There Are Tears in Things: Selected Prose and Poems by Laksmi Pamuntjak (2001-2015); a collection of short stories on paintings, The Diary of R.S.: Musings on Art, a treatise on man, violence and mythology, Perang, Langit dan Dua Perempuan, and four volumes of the award-winning The Jakarta Good Food Guide, Indonesia’s first independent and literary good food guide series.
In 2012, Laksmi was selected by an international panel headed by Sir Simon Armitage as the Indonesian representative for Poetry Parnassus at the Cultural Olympiad (in conjunction with the London Olympics). Between 2009 and 2011, she was a member of the international jury of the Prince Claus Award, an Amsterdam-based international art philanthropy organization.
Laksmi’s third novel, Herbstkind, was published in Germany in August 2018. The original English version of the novel, The Fall Baby, was published by Penguin Random House in October 2019. This makes Laksmi a rare few among Indonesian contemporary authors whose work in English has been published by Penguin Random House. The Indonesian version of the novel, Srikandi, is slated for publication by Gramedia Pustaka Utama early next year. Laksmi is currently at work on Kitab Kawin (A Book of Marriage), a new collection of short stories on women in relationships.
Find out more on her website: http://laksmipamuntjak.com/
View the transcript here: https://bit.ly/2QLv08h