Laksmi Pamuntjak's Novel Wins German Literary Award


JUNE 03, 2016

Jakarta. Indonesian author Laksmi Pamuntjak's 2012 novel, "Amba," won the 2016 Liberaturpreis — an award given by German literary association Litprom to recognize female writers from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America.

In an online statement issued on Friday (03/06), Litprom announced that Laksmi's work was selected as a winner based on a public vote by readers that took place over several months on the literary association's website.

"Amba," published in German as "Alle Farben Rot" last year, surpassed five other nominated works by 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.

"This is wonderful news, thank you so much! I am truly happy and honored," Laksmi said in a statement. "I could not have done this without my [German] translator, Dr. Martina Heinschke — I owe an eternal debt to her."

"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 anticommunist 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. It was also named by the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as one of the most important novels of the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair — the year when Indonesia was the fair's guest of honor.

The awards ceremony will take place during the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair on Oct. 22.

Laksmi's achievement continues the recent strand of international recognition bestowed upon Indonesian authors, including the inclusion of Eka Kurniawan's novel, "Man Tiger," in the 2016 Man Booker International Prize long list.