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Sharlene Teo relives the ghosts of adolescence past in ‘Ponti’

Erica Fransisca

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sun, September 8, 2019  /  08:00 am
Sharlene Teo relives the ghosts of adolescence past in ‘Ponti’

Sharlene Teo (JP/Erica Fransisca)

It was a cold winter night in Norwich, the United Kingdom, when Singaporean writer Sharlene Teo dreamed about a woman coming out of the leaves of a banana tree, blood dripping from her mouth. Teo, who was studying creative writing at the University of East Anglia, had no doubt that it was a female vampiric ghost in Malay mythology called pontianak, or kuntilanak as Indonesians would better know it. She felt the idea of pontianak was probably ingrained in her head because she grew up hearing stories about the ghost. “But I wouldn’t have thought, if you asked me 10 years ago, would I write a novel [about that]? No!” she said, laughing. “Not at all. I haven’t always been obsessed with them.” On the sidelines of the recent Jakarta International Literary Festival (JILF), Teo talked to The Jakarta Post about her debut novel, P...