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Cita Seni 2018 – The Crowd and The Conscience: Literature in Today’s Indonesia



The rule of the majority influences every aspect and institution in society. While aiming to serve society, these institutions will inevitably cater to the majority’s expectations for reasons of mass appeal, profit, or sometimes, for the sake of conformity.

This is reflected in the literature of Indonesia today where multiple literary works attempt to fulfill the narrative of the majority. Bookstores are filled with books labelling themselves as Islamic novels regardless of whether the contents are really Islamic or not. Fiction becomes preachy and conforms and celebrates what the majority is inclined and orientated to. How does this situation shape Indonesia’s literature-sphere? How do writers and literary works take a stand in the current populist trend? How does literature give room for people and ideas outside the majority? In this forum, Okky Madasari will share her thoughts and observations.

Speaker’s Bio

Okky Madasari, is the Resident Writer at the NUS Department of Malay Studies. She is an award-winning Indonesian novelist known for her exquisite and critical portrayals of the social and political conditions in contemporary Indonesia. Her works focus on one overarching theme: resistance against injustice and the struggle for freedom and humanity. She has written five novels and one short story collection, and just recently published a novel for children. Her works have been translated into English and German. She holds a Masters degree in Sociology with the thesis on Genealogy of Indonesian Novel: Islam, Capitalism, and Critical Literature.


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