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Laksmi Pamuntjak’s first English novel ‘Srikandi’ acquired by Penguin Random House

Keshie Hernitaningtyas
Keshie Hernitaningtyas

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, February 16, 2019  /  02:31 pm
Laksmi Pamuntjak’s first English novel ‘Srikandi’ acquired by Penguin Random House

The writer is indeed very busy as she is about to hop on the luxurious World Cruise 2019 of cruise line Silversea’s Silver Whisper themed “The Tale of Tales”. (laksmipamuntjak.com/-)

Best-selling Indonesian novelist Laksmi Pamuntjak is among writers from 10 countries whose titles were included in the inaugural catalogue of the Southeast Asian publishing arm of the world’s biggest trade publisher, Penguin Random House.

Officially launched by the Singapore-based Penguin Random House India and Southeast Asia (SEA) on Friday, the inaugural catalogue features various genres from fiction and non-fiction, as well as children’s and learning. So far the titles are in English, however the company is said to be looking into translating works in other languages and seeking to build a catalogue of about 500 titles over the next few years, according to The Straits Times

Laksmi’s book included in the catalogue is Srikandi (Fall Baby), her third novel but the first one written in English.

A sequel to her second novel Amba (or Alle Farben Rot in Germany), Srikandi (Fall Baby) was first published in German, titled Herbstkind in August 2018. 

Read also: Laksmi Pamuntjak: Shines through with 'Fall Baby'

“After publishing the translation of Amba, my commissioning editor in Germany is confident that if I wrote a sequel, it would be a success as well. [After reading] the synopsis [of Srikandi] I gave them, they asked me to immediately write the novel. However due to time concerns, I have to write it in English in order for it to be easily translated to German,” said Laksmi during a phone interview with The Jakarta Post on Saturday, adding that it took her one-and-a-half years, having started in 2016, to finish the novel.

“I had deliberately put the English version of the novel on hold since I felt it wasn’t ready yet; I tweaked it a little to make it more concise. Around December, I started looking for a publisher through my agent. In less than two weeks, Penguin acquired the rights,” she said.

On the website’s descriptionSrikandi (Fall Baby), set to published in October this year, follows globetrotting conceptual artist Srikandi as her world changes after she finds “the truth of her own origins, as well as the deep, dark secret that had enveloped the lives of her parents.” 

Fans of Amba can also expect to enjoy the Indonesian version of the sequel as Laksmi says she is hoping to have it released in October as well.

“I initially wanted to translate it myself [to Indonesian], however I realize that it’s too big of a task. I translated Amba from Indonesian to English myself, but never the other way around. I’m also currently working on another book [a compilation of short short stories in Indonesian on women in relationships], hence the translation is being done by Arif Bagus Prasetyo.”

The writer is indeed very busy as she is about to hop on the luxurious World Cruise 2019 of cruise line Silversea’s Silver Whisper themed “The Tale of Tales”. Priced from US$60,000 to $216,000, the cruise invites guests to “tell their own tale and become the author of their dreams” while in the company of nine “talented Tale Tellers” as it sails for 133 days across 31 countries beginning from San Francisco. Besides Laksmi, other novelists and artists on the cruise include “arguably the world’s greatest living travel writer” Pico Iyer, award-winning photographer Steve McCurry and acclaimed writer Paul Theroux. 

“The program consists of nine segments that will be hosted onboard by [the Tale Tellers]. I was asked to host the two-week Bali to Tokyo segment that departs on Saturday. Prior to my segment, the guests would have already read my books and later participate in presentations, lectures, Q&As and other activities hosted by me,” said Laksmi whom during the interview is on her way to Bali.

At the end of the journey, the Tale Tellers are expected to create a short story or artwork inspired by the sailed destinations. “I’m very flattered to be in the company of these world-class authors and artists and just want to enjoy myself during the trip,” she added.

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