The Jakarta Post
The organizers of Kusala Sastra Khatulistiwa have created a new dawn for Indonesia's world of the written word.
Currently in its 14th year, the event had its name changed from the Khatulistiwa Literary Awards into one using words referring to recognition of achievement, literature and the equator that originated from Sanskrit, one of the oldest languages used in the archipelago.
At the awards ceremony on Thursday at Atrium Plaza Senayan in South Jakarta, linguistics expert Totok Suhardiyanto said that the change was suggested by Indonesian dictionary and thesaurus compiler Eko Endarwoko.
''Kusala' has richer meaning of the recognition of people's remarkable achievements,' Totok said.
Top honors in poetry went to Bali-based Oka Rusmini, for her collection Saiban, referring to traditional Balinese offerings of gratitude; while the winner in prose category was Iksaka Banu, for his short story 'Semua untuk Hindia' (All for Hinda ' a riff on Hinda Belanda, the Dutch name for its colony in what would be Indonesia), which was included in a Gramedia anthology of the nation's best short stories.
'My appreciation goes to the award organizers and the jury for selecting works that are still not considered popular by Indonesia's literary industry,' said Oka.
Six anonymous judges said to have included linguistic experts, writers and literary observers worked from May, whittling a host of nominees down to five in each category.
The coordinator for selection and judging, writer and artist Saras Dewi, said that they spent two months collecting work, including those released by independent publishers.
'Unlike last year's entries, which were somehow dominated by the 1965 and 1998 riots; this year, the judges found that the entries used similar metaphors and philosophical symbolism,' Saras said.
'The prose winner introduced a new style of narration that is yet to be recognized in Indonesia, while the poetry [winner] describes the author's painful life experience that goes deeply into the words used,' said Saras, who is also a lecturer at the University of Indonesia's philosophy department.
The event's founder, the noted filmmaker and author Richard Oh, said that the institution has launched a website to reach more writers.
'For the next event, we are considering whether to extend the award to non-fiction works,' Richard said.
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