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Avianti Armand is not a typical poetess. She is also an award-winning short story writer and an accomplished architect.
She is best known for her affinity to dark tales, which is shown in her collection of poems, Perempuan Yang Dihapus Namanya (Women Whose Names Have Been Negated), reconstructing the story of five women from the Old Testament in the Bible — Lilith, Eve, Tamar, Bathsheba and Jezebel — who, according to Avianti, have been discredited by history.
“Honestly, I am more into dark, gothic stories. I think everyone has a dark side within them. One of the ways to confront our dark side is, of course, by writing short stories,” she told The Jakarta Post recently.
The book won the 2011 Khatulistiwa Literary Award for the best poetry collection.
Previously, the mother to an 11-year-old child won Kompas daily’s best short story competition in 2009 for her tale, Pada Suatu Hari, Ada Ibu dan Radian (Once Upon a Time, There Was Mother and Radian).
Avianti, however, kept her inner architect alive in her heart, publishing an architecture book, Arsitektur Yang Lain (Another Kind of Architecture), in 2011.
In her latest short story, Perempuan Tua Dalam Kepala (An Old Lady in My Head), which was nominated for this year’s Kompas best short story, she tells the story of a man who was sexually abused as a child, prompting him to create a new personality to deal with his pain.
Saman by Ayu Utami
In my opinion, Saman is one of the novels that marked a transition in Indonesian literature.
With her distinctive writing style, which is very lyrical and uses a lot of beautiful metaphors, Ayu Utami pioneered a new way of telling stories among Indonesian writers.
Perhaps, in terms of its research, Ayu’s book is similar with the volumes by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, but her way of telling a story is very unique, more lyrical than Pramoedya’s.
Ayu’s Saman has influenced my writing in many ways.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Honestly, I love almost all of the books that were ever written by Haruki Murakami, but if I must choose one, it would be Norwegian Wood.
Why? I think it is simply because she has a talent of infusing sorrow into a picture with such intensity but without being too sappy.
In addition, she is a very deep person and has broad knowledge, which I think shows through in her story, in which she explores misery with such strong gravity.
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
Jong’s story is remarkable. It is about a woman who is trying to find herself and Jong’s style of writing is very smart and witty.
Those who read the book will find the writer herself ridiculous but in a good way, while the story itself is very out of the box. (asa)