Item description for Saman by Ayu Utami & Pamela Allen...
Saman is a story filtered through the lives of its feisty female protagonists and the enigmatic "hero" Saman. It is at once an expos of the oppression of plantation workers in South Sumatra, a lyrical quest to understand the place of religion and spirituality in contemporary lives, a playful exploration of female sexuality and a story about love in all its guises, while touching on all of Indonesia's taboos: extramarital sex, political repression and the relationship between Christians and Muslims. Saman has taken the Indonesian literary world by storm and sold over 100,000 copies in the Indonesian language, and is now available for the first time in English. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ayu Utami was born in Bogor, grew up in Jakarta and obtained her bachelor degree in Literature Studies from University of Indonesia. She worked as a journalist for Matra, Forum Keadilan, and D&R. Not long after the New Order regime closed Tempo, Editor, and Detik, she participated in the founding of Indonesia's Alliance of Independent Journalists to protest the closure of those three weeklys. Currently she is working for the cultural journal Kalam, and at Teater Utan Kayu. Saman was awarded the Prince Claus Award in the year 2000.
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Studio: Equinox Publishing
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.25" Width: 5.25" Height: 8" Weight: 0.68 lbs.
Release Date Aug 15, 2005
Publisher Equinox Publishing
ISBN 9793780118 ISBN13 9789793780115
Availability 110 units. Availability accurate as of May 23, 2017 03:17.
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Disappointing Novel From Great Activist May 26, 2006
When the democracy dust settles, it will be interesting to see how this novel is viewed, because I think most of the pizazz of Saman is in its timeliness.
Ayu Utami is a gifted social activist and journalist, in addition to being a novelist. She deserves a platform. Maybe the problems with Saman can be traced to the translation work (not hers), but it is at best uneven and at worst an odd confusion of voices.
Certainly, Utami was able to write this in Indonesian for Indonesians at a time when the door opened a crack for free thinkers and crusaders for human rights. The novel touches on the basic human need for justice and honesty at a time when the two concepts were fresh ideas for this fascinating populace. It caused a sensation in her own country, in its original language. The writing's raw use of sex and politics is a bit jumbled to the western reader, but a Pandora's box of suppressed thinking has been opened in Indonesia, and there's bound to be a bit of chaos right now. The novel certainly shows this.
But if you, reader of English language texts, want to get a taste of what is new and important to young, informed Indonesians, then you'd better read Saman.
Freedom Apr 29, 2006
In this slowly starting and loosely constructed novel, the key theme is freedom: the collective and individual struggle to be oneself and free.
It is a battle for economic freedom: 'If the company wants to turn the failed rubber plantations into palm oil plantations, let them. But don't let them touch our trees.' The free peasants fight against forced cultivation and outrageous deceit and fraud. A battle for social freedom: worker's rights and the protection of the poor, who are perpetually victimized. A battle against the patriarchal power structure and the repression of women '...cocooned in domestic affairs, leaving strategic decision-making entirely in the hands of men.' More, 'Five or more unidentified bodies were found each week in South Sumatra. Two, or three of them were women. Many of these women were raped.' A battle against the oppression of religion: ' The Church itself is in a compromised position. The congregation is frightened by the spectre of Communism. The accusation of forcing people to convert to Christianity can only bring us in disrepute.' Covering it all are political freedom and freedom of expression: the fight against dictatorship, its intimidations through rape and demolitions, its tortures and its bureaucracy: 'the authorities have the power to buy or manipulate everyone.'
Saman, the main character in this book, is a priest, who is accused of being a disguised communist. He is put in prison and tortured. He looses his faith: 'When I have to choose whether to stay in the Church or to be with my friends to whom I am committed, I have been leaning towards the latter ... here I am deciding to leave the priesthood.' He also becomes sexually free. After escaping prison, he works for an NGO 'Human Rights Watch' and uses Internet as the ultimate channel of free speech.
This book is solidly anchored in Indonesian society with all its taboos. But it is also a very worthwhile read for non-Indonesians for its tackling of a universal human problem.