Laksmi Pamuntjak's latest work, Fall Baby won the Best Literary Work - Singapore Book Awards 2020. This award was announced by the Singapore Book Publishers Association online last Thursday (13/8).
I always thought of Fall Baby as the sort of novel that doesn’t win prizes. But, it’s a story I’ve always needed to tell, and it is this deep emotional attachment, this urgency, that I feel Nora Abu Bakar—my editor at Penguin Random House SEA — has always understood. She believes in this book, and it is important for me to know this. I’m certain that is why working with her on this book has always been easy and enjoyable. We both want the best for the book, we trust one another.’
Fall Baby is Laksmi Pamuntjak's first English novel published by Penguin Random House SEA. This is the first time PRH SEA Penguin has published an original work by an Indonesian author in English — not a translation. After being published in September 2019, this novel later became a bestseller in the Southeast Asia region. In Indonesia, Fall Baby was published under the title Kekasih Musim Gugur and was officially published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama on August 3.
“After previously being published in German as Herbstkind and in English as Fall Baby, this book has finally been published in her homeland as Kekasih Musim Gugur. Hopefully, the publication of this book will end the waiting period of Amba readers who have long wanted to enjoy Laksmi's excellence in intertwining the past and the present beautifully, ”said Siti Gretiani, General Manager of Gramedia Pustaka Utama.
Kekasih Musim Gugur is a story of two women, Srikandi (Siri) and Dara. One is a cosmopolitan artist, the other is a political activist. Siri is the son of Amba and Bhisma, the main character of Laksmi Pamuntjak's first novel, Amba.
After years of wandering in various cities in the world — London, New York, Madrid — Siri decided to live in Berlin to escape her family's past. Unexpectedly, a piece of shocking news forced him to return to Jakarta. At home, Siri has to face the sad reality of her family, coupled with the complex intertwining of art, politics, and history, especially when one of her exhibitions is blasphemed and considered immoral.
In the struggle, Siri must redefine her relationship with her mother, Amba; with his former best friend, Dara; with her stepson, Amalia; and with the dark history of his biological father.
Laksmi Pamuntjak is a bilingual novelist, poet, essayist, journalist, and culinary critic. She has written on politics and culture at home and abroad, including The Jakarta Post, TEMPO, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, South China Morning Post, Die Welt, and the Guardian.
In 2012, Laksmi represented Indonesia at Poetry Parnassus, the biggest poetry festival in London for the London Olympics. In 2016, Laksmi's first novel, Amba, won the LiBeraturpreis German literary award. A film based on her second novel, Aruna and Lidahnya, was released in 2018 and won two awards at the Indonesian Film Festival (FFI). She is also the author of five editions of the Jakarta Good Food Guide series, Indonesia's first literary and independent restaurant guide. Her works have been translated into various languages.
Laksmi, who is one of the founders of the Aksara Bookstore, is also active in the art field. Between 2009 and 2011, she served on the international judging committee of the Prince Claus Award, an Amsterdam-based fine arts organization.
Her third novel, Fall Baby - her first novel in English - was published in September 2019 by Penguin Random House SEA. Previously, in 2018, the novel had been published in German by Ullstein Verlag under the title Herbstkind. Currently, Laksmi is working on a compilation of short stories entitled Kitab Kawin.