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Jakarta Post

Literary legend Hamsad Rangkuti dies at 75

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, August 26, 2018   /   11:34 am
Literary legend Hamsad Rangkuti dies at 75 Author Hamsad Rangkuti (Tempo/Novi Katika)

Revered short-story writer Hamsad Rangkuti died at the age of 75 on Sunday, following a three-month-long coma. 

Hamsad’s widow Nur Windasari confirmed the news of his death. 

“[He died] around 6:00 am,” she said, as quoted by

Born in Kisaran, North Sumatra, in 1943, Hamsad won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2003 Khatulistiwa Literary Award and the 2008 Southeast Asian Writers Award.

Perhaps best known for his short story titled Maukah Kamu Menghapus Bekas Bibirnya di Bibirku Dengan Bibirmu? (Would You Erase the Trace of His Lips on My Lips with Your Lips?), Hamsad wrote his first short story, Sebuah Nyanyian di Rambung Tua (A Song in an Old Rubber Tree), when he was 16.

He was among the writers and artists who signed the Cultural Manifesto in 1963, which attacked the artistic restriction imposed by Sukarno, who then favored leftist intellectuals in the People's Cultural Institute (Lekra).

An acute daydreamer, Hamsad said an element of fantasy was required to make a story work. 

"In order for people to like your story, you must add a lie in it. This is not a crime. It is beauty. A beautiful lie. Many writers hate this term for it makes literature sound like a crime, and therefore they prefer calling it 'imagination'," he told The Jakarta Post in an interview in 2008.

He suffered from multiple health problems in the past few years, including a stroke in September of last year, which he never fully recovered from.

In September last year, several artists held a charity night to help with Hamsad's medical bills. Among them were painters Nasirun, Dolorosa Sinaga, Yani Maryani, Bambang Heras, Arahmaiani and Samuel Indratma, who donated artworks through an auction in the event. The charity event was organized by author Radhar Panca Dahana and scholar Yudi Latif. (kmt)