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Must-read Indonesian classic novels

Masajeng Rahmiasri
Masajeng Rahmiasri

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sat, August 20, 2016 | 01:16 pm
Must-read Indonesian classic novels

For avid readers, reading Indonesian classic novels is a must-try. (Shutterstock/-)

Indonesia’s classic novels have their own charm, offering insight into local culture and traditions and the historical background prior to and immediately after the country gained independence.

Here are some examples of must-read Indonesian classic novels that have been translated into English and other languages.

Shackles ( 1940 )

Author: Armijn Pane

"Shackles", a novel by Armijn Pane.(Book Depository/-)

Originally titled Belenggu and translated into many languages including English and German, this book follows married couple Tini and Sukartono (Tono) whose relationship becomes dull as Tini feels abandoned by her busy husband and Tono becomes unable to understand his wife's behavior. Amid the situation, Tono meets Rohayah, an old friend who becomes her seducer.

And The War Is Over ( 1977 )

Author: Ismail Marahimin

Set in Indonesia following the Japanese invasion, this book was awarded the Pegasus Prize for Literature in 1984. (Book Depository/-)

Set in Indonesia following the Japanese invasion, this book was awarded the Pegasus Prize for Literature in 1984. Originally titled Dan Perang Pun Usai, the story revolves around tension between local residents and Japanese authorities in the Sumatra village of Teratakbuluh following news that Japan has surrendered. In the situation, Lieutenant Ose, who never wanted to take part in the war, struggles with his own conscience and the pressure of the war’s ending. Aside from English, the work has also been translated into Japanese.

(Read also: 12 Indonesian books you should add to your reading list)

Never the Twain ( 1928 )

Author: Abdoel Moeis

"Never the Twain", a novel by Abdoel Moeis.(Book Depository/-)

Highlighting romance and criticism, Salah Asuhan follows Hanafi, an Indonesian who starts to change after experiencing higher educatio and who falls for his Eurasian friend, Corrie. Corrie rejects Hanafi, feeling they are too different. Although Hanafi ends up marrying Rapiah, he is not content, becoming abusive and later pursuing Corrie again.

Child of All Nations ( 1981 )

Author: Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Originally published under the title Anak Semua Bangsa, this second installment of Buru Quartet focuses on the life of Minke, the main character in The Earth of Mankind, following the death of his wife, Annelies. (Book Depository/-)

Originally published under the title Anak Semua Bangsa, this second installment of the Buru Quartet focuses on the life of Minke, the main character in The Earth of Mankind, following the death of his wife, Annelies. One day, Minke's friend, Jean Marais, asks him to start writing in Malay so that local residents can also read his works, but he refuses. However, through a series of events, Minke’s point of view starts to change.

(Read also: Six great biographies you should read)

Telegram ( 1973 )

Author: Putu Wijaya

This work tells the story of a Balinese journalist who live in Jakarta and thinks that a telegram is a bad omen. (Book Depository/-)

This fiction tells the story of a Balinese journalist who live in Jakarta and thinks that a telegram is a bad omen. One day, he receives a telegram from home. He predicts the content without reading it—that his mother has passed away. Trying to avoid his responsibility as the oldest son, he decides not to open the telegram. However, he has to explain the matter to his adopted child. Aside from this problem, the journalist also needs to address the issue within himself—his inability to tell what is real and what is not. (kes)

(Read also: Popular fantasy fiction series made into movies)

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