Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Eka Kurniawan & Man Booker Prize

I carried an interview Indonesia author Eka Kurniawan whose book Man Tiger has been nominated for the prestigious 2016 Man Booker International awards.  The interview was published in theSun today.  Here is the full story....

Headline : King  of the Literary Jungle
By Bissme S

EKA KURNIAWAN, considered one of the most exciting, edgy writers in Indonesia, recently saw his book Man Tiger selected for the prestigious 2016 Man Booker International awards, with industry peers calling him the first Indonesian author to be nominated. The winner of the award will be announced on May 16.
 Man Tiger is a 2015 published translation of Eka’s original 2004 novel Lelaki Harimau, his second book after his landmark debut, 2002’s Cantik Itu Luka. He has since published Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas (2014), and his latest book, O (2016).
In an email interview with theSun, Eka  recalled how he found out about the nomination. He says: “Some of my friends texted me the good news. But I didn’t get it. While waiting for my car to be serviced, I realised my mobile phone was full of missed calls and messages. Many of them were from journalists. I spent the whole day answering their questions.”
Eka  is extremely grateful that people thought his work was good enough to be nominated. Most of the time, he tries not think about the many accolades he has received for his books over the years.
Man Tiger begins with a young man named Margio, who violently murders Anwar Sadat, the richest man in a village. The story continues in flashbacks, where the readers learn that Margio hates his father for abusing his mother. He always had the desire to kill his father, but never found the courage to carry it out. The novel also blends in supernatural elements, where Margio believes a female white tiger is living inside him.
The inspiration for this story came when Eka heard about a violent murder that took place in his hometown years ago. He wanted to write a fictional novel about the murder, but eventually abandoned the idea.
“Then, a friend told me that he found a tiger in his bedroom,” he says.
“I do not know whether my friend was telling me the truth or if he was pulling my leg. Oddly enough, his confession got us talking about the stories of mystical white tigers we used to hear about as kids.”
It was then that Eka decided to revive his abandoned story, and blended it with the supernatural element of a white tiger.
When asked if he still believes in supernatural elements, he says: “If I believe in the supernatural, I have to prove that it exists, and I cannot do that. If I don’t believe in supernatural, I still have to prove it does not exist and I can’t do that, either. I am a skeptic but at the same time I love mystery in everything.”
He says his grandmother was the first person to expose him to the art of storytelling. She loved to narrate legends, fairy tales and the history of the village to him.
Another person who played an important role in his love for storytelling was a distant relative, an old lady who lived alone. Almost every evening, he and the other children would gather at her porch, where she told them magical tales.
His father, a tailor and a part-time English teacher, also played a role in instilling the love for stories in him. He would bring back books for Eka to read. From an ardent reader, Eka slowly progressed to becoming a writer.
One of the changes he loves to see taking place in Indonesian literature is an increase in Indonesian readership.
“Indonesia has a big population, but only a tiny percentage of readers,” he says.
“We need to build more libraries around the archipelago.”
When asked if stories should have messages that can change the society for the better, Eka answers: “Consciously or unconsciously, a writer always has messages in the stories. But the writer must understand that readers may interpret these message differently [from the original intent]. The readers may not see things the same way [as the writer]. The writer has no control over how his readers would interpret his stories.”
But Eka strong believes a story should not become a sermon.
“Once a story becomes a sermon, the story is no longer interesting.”

Side bar 

2016 Man Book Prize Nominees
1)A General Theory of Oblivion
Author: José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola)
Translator: Daniel Hahn

2) The Story of the Lost Child
Author: Elena Ferrante (Italy)
Translator: Ann Goldstein

3) The Vegetarian
Author: Han Kang (South Korea)
Translator: Deborah Smith

4) Mend the Living
Author: Maylis de Kerangal (France)
Translator: Jessica Moore
 5) Man Tiger
Author: Eka Kurniawan ( Indonesia)
Translator: Labodalih Sembiring

6)The Four Books
Author: Yan Lianke (China)  
Translator: Carlos Rojas

7) Tram 83
Author: Fiston Mwanza Mujila(Democratic Republic of Congo/ Austria)
Translator: Roland Glasser

8) A Cup of Rage
Author: Raduan Nassar (Brazil)
Translator: Stefan Tobler

9) Ladivine
Author: Marie N. Diaye (France)
Translator: Jordan Stump

10) Death By Water
Author : Kenzaburo Oe (Japan)
Translator: Deborah Boliner Boem

11)White Hunger
Author : Aki Ollikainen ( Finland)
Translator: Emily Jeremiah & Fleur Jeremiah

12) A Strangeness in My Mind
Author: Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
Translator: Ekin Oklap

13) A Whole Life
Author: Robert Seethaler ( Austria)
Translator: Charlotte Collins

Eka... churning out another masterpiece

Lelaki Harimau translated into English .... 

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