last friday, my chief acquisition eliza has asked me to join her in a small seminar with peter ripken in goethe institut.

and it was a fascinating seminar.

at the beginning, peter told us a fact that together with a swish cultural foundation “pro helvetia”, the ministry of foreign affairs of the german is funding a program to seek and publish asian writer in europe. in 2007, only ayu utami with her book “saman” received this translation grant.

as you have known, indonesia is a land of myth and tale, cultural diversity and various language and people. this is where we can assume that indonesia is also a land of great fiction. but later, peter mentioned a simple but stunning facts from this vast potential themes and material, there only few indonesian names that had their book translated in europe.

peter took a comparison between south korea and indonesia. the koreans have more than 120 titles translated while indonesia only have less than 20 (if i’m not mistaken. blame it on the low speaker volume.. heheh)

now, here’s some reason why:

1. no support from the indonesian goverment. classic eh?
2. lack of information from indonesian publisher. kindly take a look at our publishers website and try to look english section for their books… you’ll know what i mean.
3. lack of promotional support from indonesian publisher. let’s take sample from frankfurt book fair, there our publisher prefer to seek foreign rights not try to sell our rights to foreign publisher.
4. our translator limitation in translating procces. while this translation debates going on and on… we must admit that there are no translation school or major in indonesia.

peter believe that we need a breakthrough to solve this lack of recognition. by what? that is the problem my friend.

oh btw, one of the participant has suggested some kind of literary agency. good point ma’am, i’m waiting for your move. or perhaps any of you guys interested? if you do… you know where to reach me đŸ˜€

more info on peter and his works:

pic: gettyimages

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