Wondered though if you had come across (what is often said to be - I'm careful here) Indonesian equivalent of chick lit, labelled Sastra Wangi or Fragrant Literature by the Indonesian press? The fragrant part comes from the fact that these writers just happen to be young and beautiful. It's a label though that the writers themselves understandably shrug off as a cynical marketing ploy, a dismissal of the value of their work.
Writers Ayu Utami (who incidentally was one of the speakers at the KL Litfest), Dewi Lestari, (left) Djenar Mahesa Ayu and Nova Riyanti Yusuf (right) are enormously popular in Indonesia, their works reflect changing culture and aspirations and a new openness about sex - a taboo subject for the many in Indonesia's conservative society.
This isn't a literature to be dismissed lightly. As Inside Indonesia wrote of Ayu Utami's Saman:
Saman stands out amongst recent Indonesian fiction. Ayu's confident storytelling technique adequately carries the weight of a broad thematic scope, highlighting the full complexity of previously shunned issues such as female sexuality and the struggle between personal faith and political action.Such a shame it is that although Malaysia and Indonesia are next-door neighbours, Indonesian literature doesn't find it's way over here. I'm still waiting to read Ayu's books ...
One wonders too why there isn't really an equivalent to Sastera Wangi here. Are Malaysian women less angry? Less concerned with putting their thoughts into fiction? Do they look over their shoulders more in case they offend the staus quo?
Malaysia has the romance novel. We should be content with that.
Let's all live happily ever after and not rock the boat.
More about Sastra Wangi from the BBC.
So You Want to Write Chick Lit? (8/10/05)