National

Indonesian writers `need
to establish network'

An acclaimed Indonesian writer called on the country's literary community to establish a strong writers' network to increase literature's popularity and make it more inclusive.

Clara Ng, a successful young writer, said authors must utilize communication forms including the Internet to make it more accessible.

Clara, who has received an Adhikarya IKAPI award for three consecutive years in 2006, 2007 and 2008, told participants at a seminar for the 2009 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival last weekend authors should use the Internet to sell.

"It's not adequate to only use bookstores to sell books.

"We shouldn't rely on our literary niche and promotions," she said.

"Indonesians' literary capability is still quite low and they are reluctant to buy books.

"They don't even want to read borrowed or free books."

Clara established a virtual literary group known as the Children's Reading Association.

"The aim of the association is to share information about the books we read, discuss reviews and share tips."

Clara also said writing could be incorporated into many forms of media.

"Literature can be incorporated into attractive multimedia performances such as music, visual arts and many other forms to make it more compelling," she said.

Aan Mansyur, another panel member, admitted the majority of people in literary circles could be exclusive.

"It's important literary circles become more inclusive and open a door to enhance communication with other professions," Aan said.

In his hometown in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Aan opened a public library, Kafe Baca Biblioholic, to ensure young people have access to literature including popular novels and classics.

"We frequently hold a series of discussions on many topics from punk and rap music performances to origami," Aan said.

"These discussions help to strengthen the connection between the literary world and the community.

"So far, talking about these activities in conjunction with literature has encouraged young people to read more and open their minds.

"We don't have to launch formal campaigns to increase reading interests," Aan said.

"The most important thing to do is encourage action."

Aan added the government had always helped to promote readings.

"But they *the government* have not established a policy to lower printing prices or the price of books," he said.

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