In this vivid dissection of social and political life in Jakarta at the beginning of the 1960s, Indonesian writer Mochtar Lubis reveals the dark currents of poverty, corruption and vice which course beneath the surface of one of the great cities of the Third World. Although set in Indonesia, the tale that unfolds has universal application as it describes the forces which determine the lives of rich and poor, politicians and criminals, intellectuals and simple rural immigrants alike, as they struggle for survival.
Through the character of the central figure, Suryono, a young, Western-educated government official, the author depicts the complex web of threads which enmesh both individual and society in a newly developing nation, with compassion as well as insight.
Translated by Claire Holt from Indonesian Senja di Djakarta, or Twilight in Djakarta was the first Indonesian novel to be translated into English. The late Mochtar Lubis — who passed away in 2004—was a distinguished writer and journalist who twice suffered long terms of imprisonment for his convictions.
About the author of Twlight in Djakarta:
Mochtar Lubis was an Indonesian Batak journalist and novelist who co-founded Indonesia Raya. As a child, Lubis wrote children’s stories which were published in Sinar Deli, a Medan-based newspaper. After graduating from high school, Lubis worked as a teacher in Nias, North Sumatra. When World War II broke out and the Japanese occupied Indonesia in 1942, Lubis began working for the Japanese, translating international news for the Japanese army. Three years later, Lubis joined the Indonesian news agency Antara as a reporter. During this period he wrote Jalan Tak Ada Ujung and joined the Indonesian Visual Artists Association. He founded and co-founded numerous magazines and foundations, including the Obor Indonesia Foundation in 1970, Horison magazine, and the Indonesian Green Foundation. He also had a reputation for being outspoken about the need for freedom of the press in Indonesia and gained a reputation as an honest, no-nonsense reporter. Lubis’s novel Harimau! Harimau! was named Best Book by Yayasan Buku Utama, a part of the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture, in 1975. In 2000, he was named as one of the International Press Institute’s 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past 50 years. He died on 2 July 2004. (Wikipedia)
The novel is a vivid dissection of social and political life in Jakarta at the beginning of the 1960s. (From our newsletter)