Leila Chudori, noted Indonesian journalist and author, visited the Southeast Asia Center for two days in April 2016. Her book Pulang (Home) was recently translated and published in English (John McGlynn (The Lontar Foundation), who translated the novel, also visited the Southeast Asia Center in early April). Leila read from her book, which delves into the lives of Indonesian exiles after 1965, who spend their years in Paris, longing to go home (thus, the name Pulang, which means not only home but a sense of belonging and longing). Chudori worked for many years as a journalist for Tempo, the magazine begun by Goenewan Mohamad and later banned during the New Order by former President Suharto. She has also written screenplays for television and films. Faculty, students and community members gathered to hear Leila read and learn about life and journalism under the New Order. Her work considers the extensive silence that surrounded (and continues for surround) the events of 1965/66, when up to one million Indonesians, accused of being communists, were murdered by governmental forces. Those involved in the arts were especially targeted, as were women. Some people emigrated, either willingly or, as in the case of Chudori’s protagonists in Pulang, had been out of the country and were not allowed to return. Despite the somber tone surrounding the event of 1965/66, Leila’s talk was lively and she proved herself an amusing raconteur.
Writing Indonesia – with Leila Chudori
April 30, 2016