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Keynote and Public Lecture Laksmi Pamuntjak: Rethinking Art, Freedom and Morality in Indonesia


Laksmi Pamuntjak


Molonglo Theatre, Level 2, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU


Wednesday, 20 November, 2019 – 17:15 to 18:15

Keynote and Public Lecture

Laksmi Pamuntjak: Rethinking Art, Freedom and Morality in Indonesia

17:15-18:15 Wednesday 20 November 2019

Molonglo Theatre

Crawford Building

Australian National University

Laksmi Pamuntjak is a bilingual Indonesian novelist, poet, journalist, essayist, and food critic. She writes opinion and features articles for numerous Indonesian publications as Tempo, the Jakarta Post and the Jakarta Globe, as well as on politics and culture in international publications such as the GuardianSouth China Morning Post, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Kulturaustausch, and Die Welt.

Her first bestselling novel, Amba/The Question of Red tells the modern story of two ill-starred lovers, Amba and Bhisma of the great Hindu epic Mahabharata, who were driven apart by one the bloodiest purges in the 20th century—the massacre of up to one million accused communists in Indonesia between 1965 and 1968. The novel won Germany’s LiBeraturpreis 2016 and was named #1 on Germany’s Weltempfaenger list of the best works of fiction from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Arab World translated into German. The novel has been translated into several languages.

Pamuntjak’s second novel, Aruna dan Lidahnya, was a bestseller in Indonesia and published in the US in February 2018 under the title The Birdwoman’s Palate. The movie adaptation of the novel won two Piala Citra (Festival Film Indonesia) awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor.

Pamuntjak is also the author of three collections of poetry: Ellipsis, The Anagram and There Are Tears in Things: Selected Prose and Poems by Laksmi Pamuntjak (2001-2015); a collection of short stories on paintings, The Diary of R.S.: Musings on Art, a treatise on man, violence and mythology, Perang, Langit dan Dua Perempuan, and four volumes of the award-winning The Jakarta Good Food Guide, Indonesia’s first independent and literary good food guide series.

Pamuntjak’s third novel, Herbstkind, was published in Germany in August 2018. The original English version of the novel, The Fall Baby, was published by Penguin Random House in October 2019. She is currently at work on Kitab Kawin (A Book of Marriage), a new collection of short stories on women in relationships.

This Indonesia Council Open Conference Keynote and Public lecture is sponsored by the ANU Indonesia Institute and the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre.

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