While compiling my immediate TBR list, I realized that the novel Pulang (Home in English translation) by Leila S. Chudori is on next month’s pile. If I finish Pulang, that means I will have read all of Leila S. Chudori’s adult works – since I have also read her two short story collections Malam Terakhir and 9 dari Nadira. So I thought: why don’t I create an author spotlight on Leila rather than just individual book reviews? In an author spotlight, I can talk about the trends that mark Leila’s writing, her overall writing style, her favored themes, and what type of readers would most enjoy her work or find her informative.
If I can do this with Leila, then surely I can do the same for other writers?
Author spotlights are nothing new and I can’t take credit for the idea. Highlights of individual authors and their works have been around for a long time but I never thought I could try and do them myself as they seemed pretty demanding.
An author spotlight is, indeed, a project. My biggest hurdle is prolific authors. How do you spotlight an author like Stephen King whose bibliography number in the hundreds at this point? Compounded to that, I’m not the type of reader who rushes out to buy an author’s entire back catalogue no matter how much I love a particular novel. To keep my sanity, I’m not going to be overly ambitious. I have to read a minimum of three book-length works by each author before I craft an author spotlight. So my spotlights will be rather basic and not entirely comprehensive. All the same, I hope they will be useful to the reader.
Indonesian authors will be the focus of most of these highlights. I’m honestly surprised why I didn’t think of this sooner since the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair is upon us by 14-18 October. Indonesia is the fair’s Guest of Honor and there is a lot of hope within the Indonesian publishing community that our oft-neglected literature will finally get the attention it deserves. With some luck and hard work, maybe there will be more translations of Indonesian literature in the future. I am under no illusions. This is a teensy blog – but I want to do my part by spreading information on Indonesian authors.
I am hoping to get Leila S. Chudori’s author spotlight around the time of the Frankfurt Book Fair. I need some time as Pulang is a chunker and I want to reread her short story collections to keep the material fresh in my mind. The second spotlight will be either on Ahmad Tohari or Mochtar Lubis.
In no way does this mean I am closing the spotlight project on non-Indonesian authors. I’d love to do some of my favorite international authors. But we’ll see if I have the endurance.
If you are Indonesian or are interested in Indonesian literature, let me know in the comments which authors you think need to be highlighted.