Monash University Publishing: Advancing knowledge

Buru Island

A Prison Memoir

By Hersri Setiawan; Translated by Jennifer Lindsay

$29.95

Buru Island was the site of Indonesia’s most remote and infamous prison camp. In the wake of the 1965 repression of the political Left, between 1969 and 1979 approximately 12,000 men were held on Buru without formal charge or trial. During their detention prisoners suffered torture, forced labour and malnourishment, as well as social isolation. This book is an edited translation of the Indonesian language memoir by the writer Hersri Setiawan (b.1936) who was detained for nine years, including seven on Buru Island: as a young writer filled with hope and optimism for Indonesia’s future he had joined the left-wing cultural organisation Lekra (Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat, Institute of People’s Culture). Setiawan shares an intimate account of his life story leading up to and during his detention. He brings into stark light the horrors of the period after 1965, which included disappearances, murder, torture, betrayal and loss, and his own capture and incarceration on Buru Island. This is a moving and at times harrowing account of human cruelty and, at the same time, a story of survival and hope.

The Herb Feith Translation Series publishes high-quality non-fiction manuscripts not yet available in English, which enhance scholarship and teaching about Indonesia. Published by the Herb Feith Foundation in conjunction with Monash University, the books are available ‘open access’ or for free download. This will be the final book in the series.

About the author

Hersri Setiawan (1936) is a writer, journalist and translator. He studied in Yogyakarta at Gadjah Mada University and the Academy of Film and Dramatic Arts. As a student he became active in the arts and culture and in 1958 joined the left-wing cultural organisation LEKRA (Institute of People’s Culture). Between 1961 and 1965, Hersri was Indonesia’s permanent representative of the Asia-Africa Writers’ Bureau in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Following the events of 1965, Hersri was detained without trial for nine years, seven of which on the island of Buru. After his release, he continued writing about his own experiences and recording the oral histories of other former prisoners as well as exiled members of the Indonesian Left. Many of these writings have been published in Indonesian after the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998. Today, Hersri lives and works in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

About the translator

Jennifer Lindsay, an honorary Associate Professor in the School of Culture, History and Language at ANU, has lived in Indonesia on and off for some thirty years. She now spends most of her time translating and divides her time between Indonesia and Australia. 

 

Media Inquiries

For media inquiries, please contact our Marketing Coordinator, Sarah Cannon.

 


Copyright

Top