Presenting: Alfred Birney, Ayu Utami and Gie Goris
Indonesia is much more than a destination for spiritual backpackers. Seventy years after it gained independence and twenty years after the fall of dictatorship the country is more ambitious than ever. Today, the biggest Muslim country in the world finds itself at the crossroads of tradition and modernity. A perfect breeding ground for writers who embrace the present whilst trying to get a grip on the past. The young Indonesian author Ayu Utami converse with the Dutch-Indian writer Alfred Birney and MO*editor-in-chief Gie Goris.
Alfred Birney is a Dutch author who was born in 1951 in Den Haag from a Dutch mother and a descendant of a colourful planters family with Dutch, East-Javanese, Chinese and Scottish roots, hence the Anglo-Saxon surname. He has published novels, stories, columns, essays and numerous articles. Recurring themes in his works are colonialism, migration, racism and the feeling of being torn between two cultures. His youngest novel De tolk van Java won the Libris Literatuur Prize 2017 and the Henriette Roland-Holst Prize 2017.
Ayu Utami was born in Bogor, grew up in Jakarta and obtained her bachelor degree in Literature Studies from University of Indonesia. She worked as a journalist for Matra, Forum Keadilan, and D&R. Not long after the New Order regime closed Tempo, Editor, and Detik, she participated in the founding of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AIJ) of Indonesia.