Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, 1925–2006, modern Indonesia's preeminent writer of fiction, b. Blora, Java. The son of a nationalist headmaster, he was a longtime journalist, involved left-wing politics from the 1940s until his death. Pramoedya, who wrote in Bahasa Indonesia, composed his first novel, The Fugitive (1950, tr. 1975), while serving a sentence (1947–49) in a Dutch prison camp for anticolonial activities. Later he wrote a number of novels and stories set during the Japanese occupation and during and after Dutch rule. When Suharto seized power in 1965, Pramoedya was beaten, arrested, and imprisoned for 14 years. Held for a decade on Buru, a remote island penal colony, he was not permitted to write for many years. He told stories to his fellow prisoners, however, and when he was finally allowed a typewriter, these tales formed the basis of his epic fictional masterpiece, The Buru Quartet, a chronicle of a Javanese journalist coming of age in the latter years of Dutch colonialism. Following his release (1979), Pramoedya lived under house arrest for 13 years. Nonetheless, the Buru novels were published as This Earth of Mankind, Child of All Nations (both: 1980, tr. 1982), Footsteps (1985, tr. 1990), and House of Glass (1988, tr. 1992). Critically acclaimed, enormously popular, and translated into more than 20 languages, these and his more than 25 other works were subsequently banned in Indonesia. Among his other books are The Girl from the Coast (1982, tr. 2002), a novel, and The Mute's Soliloquy (1989–91, tr. 1999), a searing prison memoir. Many of his stories were translated in the collections A Heap of Ashes (1975), Tales from Djakarta (1999), and All That Is Gone (2004).

See A. Vlchek and R. Indira, Exile: Conversations with Pramoedya Ananta Toer (2006); study by B. Hering, ed. (1995).

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