Stories about Indonesia

In beauty is a wound, Eka Kurniawan proves that he is the literary heir to Salman Rushdie and Garcia Marquez

Every once in a while a novelist surfaces on the literary landscape from a bookishly dormant and reclusive country, whose literature has been ignored and underrepresented in the Western literary consciousness for far too long, and takes the entire book world by storm. Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie from Nigeria, Han Kang from South Korea, Yuri Herrera from Mexico, Aminatta Forna from Sierra Leon and Porochista Khakpour from Iran are a just a few contemporary examples. And now, Eka Kurniawan, a young and precocious Indonesian novelist, is a thrilling new discovery and an exciting addition to the list. In Kurniawan, Indonesia has, at ...

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When he questioned them about the genocide, they gave him The Look of Silence

The Look of Silence is a documentary which depicts the remains of the Indonesian genocide that took place in 1965, brutally murdering thousands of communists or anyone who opposed the army regime. Adi Rukun, who plays the brother of a man who was murdered during the genocide, has the unique privilege to confront the masterminds behind the massacre and put his nightmares to rest once and for all. The Look of Silence is a spiritual sequel to Joshua Oppenheimer’s previous masterwork The Act of Killing (2013), which portrayed the massacre through the perpetrator’s perspective. Honestly, this film is clearly not ...

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So who should talk to the 20-somethings about contraception?

They can curse in each other’s presence, break traffic signals in unison and smoke together, and they may at times act macho and show off their romantic escapades. But young men, like their elders, do not readily open up about reproductive issues. Parents or teachers do not discuss subjects of a sensitive nature with them. While it is the same with adolescent and young women, they are comparatively more open to confiding in each other and getting guidance. But it seems the world may be in for a change in attitude. Young men, all over the world, are stepping up to take ...

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Saudi Arabia, building 200 mosques will not help the refugee crisis

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in all its benevolent wisdom, has come to the aid of the Middle Eastern refugees lining up on the gates of Germany, by offering to build 200 mosques in the European nation. Yes, this is exactly what these traumatised people need after losing their homes, resources, family members, dignity, and mental and physical well-being – mosques. Indeed, for those so inclined, it is important for pious refugees to have a place to practice faith, especially in a foreign land where religion can help them feel grounded, but only after achieving stability in their lives. For Saudi Arabia to offer ...

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Our blood runs thick, our blood runs green

September 6th is celebrated as Defence Day in Pakistan. It was on this day that India launched an attack on Pakistan back in 1965. Only a couple of months after launching Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir, Indian forces crossed the border in retaliation, pushing back Pakistani Rangers and advancing towards Lahore from two sides. They had driven up to Batapur from the Wagha check post during the night of September 5th and 6th before they were pushed back. While this was happening, the Indian army chief was boasting about sipping on coffee at the Lahore Gymkhana club. Despite it being a surprise attack, it was held back and fought ...

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On Frida Deguise ‘nuding’ her fashion line

Being happy in one’s skin is not an easy task. Being happy in one’s clothing is an almost impossible adventure. I have been told that the greatest form of happiness is to be one’s true and natural self. This is not a universal truth that I am preaching but merely a life lesson and something to live by. My good friend, Pramit, a leading journalist, and I were once working on a project together. It so happened that we were both invited for a breakfast meeting at the White House, a key location in our little town of intrigues and ...

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“We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

Was Obama mincing words when he refused to pin the ‘Islamist’ tag on to terrorism? His unequivocal statement that the war on terror was against people perverting Islam drew him a lot of flak from a predictable group who see the world as black and white, and discern no shades (not 50) of grey.  In any case, why would the West be at war with Islam when many Muslims are doing a pretty darned good job of it themselves? Look around, groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda are painting towns, villages, cities, and actual battlefields red with blood; mostly of their own countrymen and ...

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Dear Indonesia, rejecting the “condomisation of society” is not the solution

“We reject the condomisation of society.” Nope, that’s not a headline from The Onion or The Oatmeal. And it’s not taken from any satirical website. I am quoting directly from the Wall Street Journal’s report on Indonesia’s top Islamic authority, Indonesian Council of Ulema. Local news daily Republika reported that there is a ‘crackdown’ on shops to check whether, in effect of Valentine’s Day, shops are selling condoms with chocolates. Ma’ruf Amein, the man who uttered the golden words quoted above, insisted that if shopkeepers sold condoms to unmarried couples, it would increase the chance of sex out of wedlock. I hate to break this to you, Mr Amein, ...

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Balochistan: Self-inflicted misery?

My fondest childhood memories are of rolling down the landscaped gardens of the rest-house located beside the Quaid-e-Azam’s residency in Ziarat. The undulating open space spotted with the frosted looking juniper trees provided an ideal environment for the equally inviting wooden dens; and the fresh dew on the grass under the clear blue sky was then so tempting for us to feel. Visiting these dream homes used to be the highlight of our summer vacations. The short picnics to Hanna Lake, Ziarat and Wali Tangi were enriching and peaceful to say the least. Quetta, I should say, was one of the most ...

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Tempted to commit adultery? Indonesian governor says ‘Go pray!’

Are you afraid that you will be so attracted to the opposite sex that you will forget your vows to your significant other? Are you afraid that your sexual urges will no longer be in your control and if you’re an employer, you will most definitely sexually harass your employees? If yes, it may be time for you to move to Indonesia. A governor in Indonesia has found a cure for adultery – prayer. Apparently, he has never known an adulterer who prays five times a day. Either that or he feels that the longer he keeps men and women on the prayer mat, ...

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