Interview with Indonesian Author Eka Kurniawan

Eka Kurniawan, a famous Indonesian author who won the Dutch Prince Claus Award in 2018 for capturing the distinctiveness of Indonesian culture in his works. Eka Kurniawan, “Winning the prize gave me a priceless experience, it gave me new insights on literature and the world in a larger sense.”

We asked him some questions on how he is doing after winning this prize:

1.       You won the prestigious Prince Claus Award in 2018, how are you doing after receiving this award?

Throughout 2019, I returned to my regular work, which is writing. I mainly continued the novel that I had been working on since before the award. Winning the award naturally came with additional activities, such as interviews and invitations to seminars, but I always try to manage my time properly. Unfortunately, the pandemic early 2020 has made work rather stagnated and progress very slowly. We have all been struggling in facing this situation.

2.       For the prize you travelled to the Netherlands, what did you learn from this?

First, it gave me a priceless experience, of course meeting and talking for a moment with the royal family was something I had never imagined before. Besides, I gained the opportunity to get in touch with more people and a larger network in the creating of art, as well as a wider perspective. I have been to the Netherlands twice before, but didn’t meet as many people as that last time. A conversation I had with one of the seniors at the award, at that time we were talking about the novel, Max Havelaar, really gave me a new insight. Not only about the novel, but also about literature and the world in a larger sense.

3.       How are you coping with the Corona crisis?

During this Corona crisis, I haven’t been going anywhere. At first, I thought that staying at home all day was an ideal situation for both authors and readers. However, reality has proven otherwise. Writing and reading have become more difficult, perhaps because of the psychological distress regarding the pandemic and the uncertainty of when it would end. Another challenge of being at home is that I have to help my child, who has also been forced to learn from home, away from the school and teachers. Nonetheless, I did end up doing quite a lot of things. I learned how to make tempeh, make some drinks, and also cook. It started off just to kill time, but then it became something enjoyable.

4.       What kind of project / book are you currently working on?

A novel but I can't describe what it is about yet since it is still in process. I prefer to do it during the process. I also am working on a film project titled "Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas", an adapted from my third novel with the same title, together with Edwin, an Indonesian director. We collaborated on the script writing. The film, if there is no other hindrance (apart from the pandemic which causes delay in production / filming) will be released next year.

5.       Which book would you recommend to our readers (young Indonesian)?

Some recenty published titles by Indonesian autors I think are needed to be read are:  Sergius Mencari Bachus (Norman Erikson Pasaribu), Gentayangan (Intan Paramaditha), Orang-Orang Oetimu (Felik K. Nesi), Dawuk (Mahfud Ikhwan), and several others.