Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Last of the Great Story Tellers

National Laureate Muhammad Dahlan Abdul Baing, better known as Arena Wati passed away on January 25th from lung cancer and this afternoon special prayers are being conducted for him at a Majlis Tahlil.

Bernama reports that :
Arena Wati was born on July 30, 1925 in Kalumpang Kabupatan, Jeneponto, Makasar, Indonesia and went to a Dutch school in Makasar before it was closed when the war broke out.

He had used other pen names such as Duta Muda and Patria. He won several awards like the SEA Write Award in 1985 and was made a national laureate in 1988.

Arena Wati also entered the journalistic world in 1954 and was once an editor at Pustaka Antara.

Among his many works were Eno (1985), Syair Pangeran Syarif (1989), Syair Pangeran Syarif Hasyim Al-Qudsi (1989), Syair Perang Cina Di Monterado (1989), Burung Badai (1990), Turina (1991) and Citra (1991).

Even at 84 he was still working, and his trilogy about the struggles of the Malays in the archipelago, entitled BaraBaraya, is due to be published this year.

Johan Jaafar in the New Straits Times writes a moving tribute to the author and calls him :
... the last of the great story tellers ...
and compares him to Joseph Conrad (because of his long connection with the sea) and James A. Michener (because of his painstaking research). he was a prolific author and short story writer and :
His characters were convincing and alive.
How much of his work is translated, I do not know. But I was unable to find a single work available in English on the Internet. Anyone out there able to enlighten us?

Postscript :

WebSutera's profile of the laureate (in Malay).


Greenbottle said...


He's one of the more interesting national laureates to me. His memoir is an interesting read.

it's sad that not many kids this days read good literature from our greats.

they would much prefer to read about 'hantu tetek' etc...

DrWati said...

hantu tetek? heheheh interesting

Web Sutera said...

Dear Sharon,

I published 1 special entry about him, here:
But, in bahasa Melayu, though :-)

bibliobibuli said...

thanks web sutera - will link