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Murjangkung, Short Stories by AS Laksana

Written by eastern writer on Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Title : Murjangkung, Cinta yang Dungu dan Hantu-hantu
ISBN : 9797806448 (ISBN13: 9789797806446)
Published by : GagasMedia (1st edition, January 2013)
Language : Indonesian
Literary awards : Khatulistiwa Literary Award Nominee for Prosa - shortlist (2013)

Murjangkung is A.S. Laksana's second short stories compilation after "Bidadari yang Mengembara, the best literary books in 2004 by Tempo magazine. Murjangkung tells about 20 short stories, with different themes that will take readers' mind somewhere, far far away, beyond our imagination.

As written on the front cover, this book contains stories about love - even things like supernatural ghosts. Read each story slowly, enjoy the strong characters, smart dialog, rich description and details and of course unpredictable endings.

This book was nominated in Khatulistiwa Literary Awards (KLA). Some said, this book should be the winner of KLA 2013. Dispite some criticism and excoriation, the jury leaded by Damhuri Muhammad had chosen Pulang by Leila S Chudori rather than Murjangkung.

Visit the author weblog at Read more about this title on Goodreads

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Sitok Srengenge Third Victim Breaks Silence

Written by eastern writer on Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another young woman has said that she was sexually abused by noted poet Sitok Srengenge. The student was the third to come forward in less than one month.

The first victim, who was also a university student, reported Sitok to the Jakarta Police for raping her. A second victim then said that Sitok had tried to rape her but failed. She also said she was willing to provide written testimony to corroborate the first victim’s claims.

Lecturer Saras Dewi, who is counseling the victims in an official capacity, said that the case of the third victim was similar to that of the first one.

Sitok, she said, used his status as a famous poet to invite the third victim to his boarding house and then manipulated her into having sex with him.

“The third victim loves poems, especially the ones created by SS [Sitok]. She wanted to learn on how to write poems. She was happy when she could finally meet SS,” Saras told The Jakarta Post Monday.

“Sitok then asked her to come to his boarding house, and there gave her alcoholic drinks and had sex with her without her consent. The victim was very traumatized by the incident but Sitok kept on calling her for more sex and this stressed the victim even more,” she added.

Saras said that the third victim had agreed to testify against Sitok to support the first victim.

“She [the third victim] knows exactly what the first victim has gone through and decided to testify,” Saras said while adding that the third victim had recorded all her written conversations with Sitok, which show just how the poet tried to intimidate her for more sex.

Sitok, a renowned poet within the Salihara art community, had previously admitted that he had sex with the first victim but claimed that it was consensual. He also said that he was willing to take full responsibility for what he done to the first victim, who is now seven-months pregnant. [Source : The Jakarta Post]

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The Years of The Voiceless, a Novel by Okky Madasari

Written by eastern writer on Sunday, December 15, 2013

Author : Okky Madasari
Genre : Novel
Paperback: 266 pages
Publisher: Gramedia Pustaka Utama (July 1, 2013)
Language: English

Marni is an illiterate Javanese woman who still practices ancestor worship. Through her offerings she finds her gods and puts forth her hopes. She knows nothing of the God brought in from that faraway land. Rahayu is Marni’s daughter, part of a new generation shaped by education and an easier life. She is a firm believer in God and in common sense. She stands against the ancestors, even against her own mother. To Marni, Rahayu is a soulless being. And to Rahayu, Marni is a sinner. Each lives according to her own creed, with nothing in common.

Then come the sounds of the jackboots, constantly disrupting and destroying souls. They are the ones with the authority, the ones who play with power as they desire. They are the ones who can turn the skies and the fields red, and blood yellow, their guns ready to strike anywhere. Marni and Rahayu, these women from two generations who have never understood each other, finally find something in their lives that they agree on. Both are victims of those in power. Both fight against the guns.

*) this novel was first published in Bahasa Indonesia under the title “ENTROK”. Visit Okky Madasari personal weblog at

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Developments in Digital Publishing in ASEAN

Written by eastern writer on Saturday, December 14, 2013

By Peter Duke

The rapid growth in popularity of electronic books (e-books) has led many traditional publishers in the West to venture into this market. In Asia, the market is still comparatively wide open with many large publishers, such as Gramedia in Indonesia, still focusing on the on-line sale of print books and magazines. Amazon's Kindle e-books and e-readers are good value for money but are unfortunately not available legally in some domains in Asia. Although I-pads and I-phones are freely available they are expensive.

Possibly the biggest digital publisher in the region is I Love Books ( which is owned by MediaCorp, Singapore’s most diverse multimedia company with interests in TV, newspapers, radio, magazines and new media. A visit to the site reveals a vast array of e-books from a wide range of categories. Their banner headline states that I love Books allows book lovers to buy their favourite e-books and read them anywhere at anytime on their devices.

A new, but currently much smaller e-book store is owned by MPH Digital ( MPH is a local Malaysian publisher with its own network of retail outlets in both Malaysia and Singapore. From the way the web site is constructed it is only a matter of time before MPH Digital will rival I Love Books for the size and rang of content. In addition, and in line with the practice of their established retail network, MPH Digital will help new authors publish their books.

A number of interesting local providers have entered the market and although these are relatively small publishers when compared to international on-line publishers such as Amazon, they each offer special features.

  • Flipside ( - their stated goal is to enrich the global electronic reading experience by publishing select Asian e-books while helping other international publishers convert their content to the local language. Their products include: academic and scholarly works; fiction and non-fiction children, teens and adults content and a wide range of local and international comics and e-books from around Asia and the Philippines. They also offer international publications discounted to match the purchasing power of the local market.
  • Papataka (,) founded by three young entrepreneurs was Indonesia's first web based digital content retailer with a mission to provide a better way to enjoy knowledge by bringing to market e-books and audio books in various languages. They also provide a platform for independent authors to publish their writing through Their collection of books and their network are both growing rapidly and they have a Showroom and Gallery at one of the leading Plazas in Jakarta. They also specialise in producing digital publications with Indonesian content.
  • E Books in Thailand (www.eBooks in Thailand) occupies a special niche in the Thai market by offering a low-cost outlet for e-books with interesting perspectives on aspects of living, working and retiring in Thailand. In addition, the company offers a vehicle for authors to publish their works while they retain full rights.
  • E-Central ( of Malaysia is obviously building its range of content as many of the book categories have only very few books at present. Most of the content is in Malay but there is a small range of books in English. As with the other smaller publishers, above, E-Sentral offers to assist self publishers design, price and upload their e-books.
  • Two other non-publishers have recently entered the market – skoob in Singapore owned by Singtel and ebuuk in Malaysia owned by Maxis, the largest mobile and internet provider in Malaysia. The companies have similar business models offering a range of web-based products that their post paid customers can purchase and pay for at the end of the month through their telephone bill.

    Both companies are well known for their technical excellence and innovative range of services and sales of high end tablets and smart phones. Because of their dominance in the market they have an excellent chance of maximizing the value of their network in introducing this new range of products and services. However one has to question whether the internal culture and processes of these two companies can be adapted to market and distribute consumer products.

    The marketing skills in creating a following in the market for e-books are very different from those required to package and sell mobile and internet based services. The other dedicated digital publishers we investigated demonstrate many of the following marketing approaches:

    • there is a match between their products and the company mission,
    • their internal culture is aligned with their business model,
    • they are quick to market with new ideas,
    • they create hooks – price, discounts and competitions,
    • they extensively use social networks,
    • they use print and TV advertising, and
    • they create deals and partnerships

    It is too early to say how successful Maxis and Singtel will be but anecdotal evidence suggests that Maxis has not yet fully realised the potential of its business model as ebuuk is not advertised on Maxis monthly bills and Maxis has not yet aggressively advertised ebuuk on TV or in newspapers.

    As the availability of cheap tablets grows in Asia and the price of e-books falls, we can expect almost explosive growth in the availability and sale of e-books in Asia in the near future.

    Finally in this short article we have probably missed other interesting digital publishers in the region and we invite our readers to tell us about them. [source: Asian Publishing Network)

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    The Winners of Khatulistiwa Literary Award 2013

    Written by eastern writer on Saturday, December 14, 2013

    Khatulistiwa Literary Award (KLA) honoured author Leila S. Chudori and poet Afrizal Malna. Leila took the prose prize for her novel Pulang (Homecoming), while Afrizal won the poetry category for Museum Penghacur Dokumen (Document Destroyer Museum).

    Afrizal Malna, winner of the poetry category

    Leila S Chudori, winner of the prose category
    Pulang is both a family saga and a story of exile and homecoming, set against the background of historical events in Paris and Indonesia, including two dark and violent periods of Indonesia’s history - the 1965 communist purge that marked the rise of the longest-serving Indonesian president Soeharto, and his fall in 1998.

    Pulang bravely shines a light on these events and their ongoing repercussions through the story of the exiled Dimas Suryo and his daughter Lintang Utara.

    Leila had been working on the novel since 2006, and the extensive research she undertook involved interviews with historians as well as Indonesian exiles in Paris.

    Museum Penghancur Document is a poem collection from Afrizal, which has appeared in several major newspapers like Kompas and Koran Tempo. A piece from the collection titled “Ulang Tahun bersama Wianta” (“Birthday with Wianta”) sees him satirize the country’s citizens, who seem to disregard their past.


    Established in 2001 with the goal of providing support and recognition to outstanding Indonesian authors, the Khatulistiwa Award has become an important event in Indonesia’s literary calendar.

    This year, 2013, the competition was tight, with the prose category shortlist including Dewi Kharisma Michellia’s novel Surat Panjang tentang Jarak Kita yang Jutaan Tahun Cahaya (A Long Letter about Our Million-Year Distance), Laksmi Pamuntjak’s historical epic Amba, last year’s Khatulistiwa-winner Okky Madasari’s muse about the country’s human rights issues Pasung Jiwa (Soul Shackle), and AS Laksana’s short story collection Murjangkung (Cinta yang Dungu dan Hantu-hantu) (Murjangkung (Foolish Love and Ghosts)).

    In the poetry category, Afrizal was up against Mashuri’s Munajat Buaya Darat (Land Crocodile’s Wish), Agus R Sardjono’s Kopi, Kretek, Cinta (Coffee, Cigarettes, Love), Soni Farid Maulana’s Telapak Air (Water’s Palm) and Deddy Arsya’s Odong-Odong Fort de Kock (Fort de Kock’s Amusement Ride).

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    The Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders

    Written by eastern writer on Friday, December 13, 2013

    The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters

    This book provides a detailed account of the ways in which the CIA penetrated and influenced a vast array of cultural organizations, through its front groups and via friendly philanthropic organizations like the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.

    The author, Frances Stonor Saunders, details how and why the CIA ran cultural congresses, mounted exhibits, and organized concerts. The CIA also published and translated well-known authors who toed the Washington line, sponsored abstract art to counteract art with any social content and, throughout the world, subsidized journals that criticized Marxism, communism, and revolutionary politics and apologized for, or ignored, violent and destructive imperialist U.S. policies. The CIA was able to harness some of the most vocal exponents of intellectual freedom in the West in service of these policies, to the extent that some intellectuals were directly on the CIA payroll. Many were knowingly involved with CIA “projects,” and others drifted in and out of its orbit, claiming ignorance of the CIA connection after their CIA sponsors were publicly exposed during the late 1960s and the Vietnam war, after the turn of the political tide to the left.

    You can freely download this important book for your personal reading in PDF via this link or buy The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters at Amazon

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    Indonesian Poet Reported to Police, Impregnated 22-Year-Old Student

    Written by eastern writer on Monday, December 09, 2013

    Indonesian Prominent Poet Sitok Srengenge is facing jail time for allegedly molesting and impregnating a university student. Sitok was reported to the Jakarta Police for “unpleasant conduct” by a 22-year-old student of the University of Indonesia.

    The victim’s lawyer, Paulus Irawan, said Sitok had forced the victim to have sex with him. Sitok, whose real name is Sitok Sunarto, was accused of refusing to take responsibility after the victim was found out to be pregnant.

    “He has impregnated the victim and acted as if he is untouched before the law. This is an insult against women,” Paulus said.

    One of the victim’s lecturers, Lily Tjahjandari, said her student had suffered from serious psychological problems because of what happened to her.

    “We fully support a full investigation into this case,” she said.

    Another lecturer from University of Indonesia’s School of Literature and Culture, Saraswati Dewi, said the lecturers decided to help the victim in order to end abuse and harassment against women in general.

    “These kinds of unpleasant acts which have victimized young girls must be stopped. We don’t want to see more people become victims,” she said.

    Saraswati said the victim and her family had been trying to make Sitok take responsibility for six months. However, she said, Sitok did not respond to her pleas and she decided to turn to the campus for help.

    The victim has also reported the case to the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) to report the sexual harassment.

    “In the beginning nobody paid attention to this case because the victim shut herself down and was very depressed,” Saraswati said.

    She said she had contacted Sitok on behalf of the victim, who was her student, and he admitted to her that he had approached the victim and had a sexual relationship with her.

    “He admitted the victim did not approach him and he also said he was guilty,” she said.

    Saifulloh Ramdani, the head of the student body at UI’s School of Literature and Culture, has also condemning the alleged indecent act.

    Saifulloh said that the victim, who is said to be seven months’ pregnant now, could barely communicate because of the severe depression she was suffering. Saifulloh said she was very traumatized and unable to report the alleged rape. Friends, family and her lecturers had tried for three months to get her to report the case to the police.

    Sitok has not responded to the case, but his daughter denied her father raped the victim as claimed. In an open letter she posted on her blog, Laire Siwi Mentari said Sitok admitted to having sex with the victim but claimed it was consensual.

    “The accusation that my father has raped her and ran away from his responsibility is not true,” Laire wrote. She said her father had been trying to contact the victim’s family but was rejected.

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    Quote on Art and Literature

      "There is only one school of literature - that of talent."
    ~ Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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