|Publisher||Gramedia Pustaka Utama ( GPU )|
|Year of Publication||2012|
|Cover Type||Soft Cover|
|Dimension (WxL)||230 mm X 150 mm|
|Category||Novel & Literature|
2006: Amba goes to Buru Island. She is looking for her lost love, a man who gave her a child out of wedlock. The man she is looking for is Bhisma, who was arrested by the Suharto government in 1965 for being an alleged communist and sent to the prison island of Buru in Eastern Indonesia. When the penal colony was dissolved in 1979, Bhisma was not among the prisoners sent home.In Buru, Amba finally knows why he did not return to Java, and how he died.
AMBA: A novel is the story of two lovers, Amba and Bhisma,who are driven apart during the massacres that took place in Indonesia between 1965 and 1968, in which some 1 million people were killed in one of the bloodiest communist purges in the 20th century.
Amba is the fiercely independent daughter of a headmaster in the small town of Kadipura in Central Java. Despite her love for her father, who shares with her the love of old Javanese poems and mythologies,Amba left her hometown for the city of Yogyakarta to study English literature. She is betrothed tothe highly eligible SalwaMunir, but in a twist of fate, met BhismaRashad, a dashing young doctor, in a hospital in the communist hotbed of Kediri. They fell in love and Amba became pregnant by Bhisma. Bhisma’s background could not be any different than Amba’s. He comes from an elite family in Jakarta, is educated in Holland and later at Karl Marx University in Leipzig. His experience in Europe in the ‘50slater makes him sympathetic towards the left-wing movement (even though he is critical of the Communist Party’s rule in East Germany), and he brings back conflicting feelings about his own country upon his return to Indonesia.
In 1965, Bhisma was arrested in Yogyakarta during the anticommunist backlash.As Bhisma is carted off along with some 12,000 alleged communists and Communist Party sympathizers to Buru Island and detained there for over a decade without a fair trial, Amba runs away to Jakarta and marries an American social scientist who becomes the father to Amba and Bhisma’s illegitimate daughter, Srikandi.
When the penal colony was closed down in 1979, Bhisma did not return to Java. He remained instead in Buru as a healer to the local people—his nickname is The Wise Man of Waeapo—until the religious conflict between Muslims and Christians in the Maluku Islands erupted in 1999. His life as a prisoner in Buru is revealed in the letters he wrote to Amba, buried under a tree. The letters are entrusted to Manalisa, an old warrior believed to have supernatural powers.
When 62-year old Amba receives word that Bhisma has been killed in Buru, she sails to the island to confirm his death, and in her journey finds salvation. She is accompanied by Zulfikar, a former Buru prisoner, and Samuel, an Ambonese ex-journalist who nurses his own secrets but is helplessly drawn to their quest. There, the three of them find a Buru still festering from the burden of the past as it struggles with the aftermath of another civil war, and a lingering suspicion of outsiders.
In Amba, the lives of the central characters are traced to the Mahabharata—that timeless allegory of war within a family—with a modern twist. Convivial to inconsistencies, doubts and all manners of excess, the great epic cycle, assimilated in Java for at least 1,500 years, provides a language ripe with diverse and conflicting views of the world. They give large ideas human faces though not the internal dialogue that goes with them. It also provides a lens through which to see the political turmoil of 1965 not as a battle between "good" and "evil", "right" and "wrong", or even of "winners" and losers", but, rather, as a human tragedy of death and destruction, in which everyone—bar none—was a victim.
Ambais also a story of Indonesia – a modern 20th century invention which cobbles together some 17,000 islands, some 450 languages, is never “one” thing and is continually in flux.
About the author
Laksmi Pamuntjak (b. 1971) was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. Author of two collections of poetry, Ellipsis (2005, recommended by the novelist SuhaylSaadi in the Books of the Year section of The Herald UK) and The Anagram (2007), a treatise on violence and the Iliad entitled Perang, LangitdanDuaPerempuan (War, Heaven and Two Women) (2006), short stories in The Diary of R.S.: Musings on Art (2006) and four editions of the award-winning Jakarta Good Food Guide, she translated and edited GoenawanMohamad’s Selected Poems and On God and Other Unfinished Things. Her poems and short fictions have been published in international journals such as Poetry International, Heat and Asia Literary Review. She regularly publishes articles on politics, film, food, classical music and literature, and has participated in numerous international literary festivals including National Poetry Festival (Australia), Wordfest (Canada), Winternachten Festival (The Netherlands) and Struga International Poetry Festival (Macedonia). In 2006, she was one of the writers-in-residence at the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa. Between 2009 and 2011 she became one of the international jury members of the Prince Claus Awards based in Amsterdam. In 2012, she was selected by an international panel headed by the poet Simon Armitage as the representative of Indonesia at the Poetry Parnassus/Cultural Olympiad, a poetry festival held in conjunction with the London Olympics. Co-founder of Aksara bookstore, she owns Pena Klasik publishing house and produces art performances for KomunitasUtanKayu and KomunitasSalihara. Her first novel, Amba, was published to high acclaim in Indonesia in October 2012 by the country’s leading publishing house Gramedia. After only six weeks since its publication date, Amba is already going into second printing.