Laksmi Pamuntjak's Amba Makes German Literary Prize Shortlist


JUNE 01, 2016

Jakarta. Indonesian author Laksmi Pamuntjak has been short-listed for this year's Liberaturpreis. The prize is awarded by German literary association Litprom to female writers hailing from the Global South—Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Laksmi was nominated for her 2012 novel, "Amba," which was published in German as "Alle Farben Rot" last year and landed the top spot in Litprom's list for the best translated work of fiction.

The novel was also dubbed one of the most important novels of the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair—the year when Indonesia was the fair's guest of honor—by the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"Amba" is a modern retelling of the story of Amba and Bhisma from the ancient Indian epic "Mahabharata," set against the backdrop of the 1965 communist pogrom in Indonesia.

The novel was short-listed for the 2013 Khatulistiwa Literary Award and an English translation will be published in the United States in July.

On the prize's website, the Liberaturpreis jury describes "Amba" as an "artful love and political novel" that captures "a dark chapter in the country's history" and serves as "an epitaph for the victims."

Other writers short-listed for this year's prize include Ivory Coast's Marguerite Abouet, Tunisia's Najet Adouani, Argentina's Maria Sonia Cristoff, Israel's Ayelet Gundar-Goshen and South Africa's Antjie Krog.

Last year, the prize was received by Madeleine Thien, a Canadian writer with Sino-Malay roots, for her novel "Dogs at the Perimeter."

A public vote to support this year's Liberaturpreis nominees currently takes place online on the website.