Road to Jakarta International Literary Festival 2021 to explore ideas of heroism – Books

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Following the inaugural edition of the Jakarta International Literary Festival (JILF) in 2019, the literature committee of the Jakarta Arts Council (DKJ) will hold the festival’s second installment in 2021.

As part of a series of events leading up to the 2021 JILF, Road to Jakarta International Literary Festival 2021 runs until Dec. to 6 on YouTube and JILF’s website under the theme HEROES – (Re)Making History.

Isyana Artharini, one of the curators of Road to Jakarta International Literary Festival 2021, said the theme was initially set for this year’s JILF, but the event had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme is meant to reflect the challenging times, what with the pandemic and environmental issues, and the idea of heroism is considered interesting.

“Sometimes we view the [heroism] narrative as problematic as it only focuses on certain people who make certain contributions. Oftentimes it centers on one person only, while change is part of a collective effort. We’d like to shift our focus from one figure to marginal voices and groups,” said Isyana, adding that the event aimed to highlight voices from Asian and African countries.

Road to Jakarta International Literary Festival 2021 will present eight episodes of a literature podcast and four panel discussions. Dubbed Footnotes from JILF, the podcast is to feature discussions on literature and ideas from various guests, including authors Seno Gumira Ajidarma, Bonnie Triyana, Martin Suryajaya, Reda Gudiamo and Fallissa Putri.

The panel discussions will be divided into four themes, namely “Sejarah dari Ingatan” (The History of Our Memory), “Kekuatan dan Batas Representasi” (Donning the Cape – on the Power and Limit of Presentation), “Kisah-kisah Fantastis” (The Fantastics) and “Kisah-kisah Masa Depan” (Future Stories/Future Realities), with speakers from various backgrounds and countries, including novelist Jeremy Tiang, author-translator Tiffany Tsao, author Norman Erikson Pasaribu, author Clara Ng and writer-editor Richa Kaul Padte.

“From the discussions, we will take a look on how history is written personally and how lives of ordinary people are affected in large-scale and crucial, historical moments,” Isyana said.

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“Sejarah dari Ingatan” will give a personal approach on how ordinary people write stories when they’re caught in the middle of history and what they’d like to achieve, while “Kekuatan dan Batas Representasi” will question whether representation is positive or serves as a way to distort actual changes.

“ ‘Kisah-kisah Fantastis’ will discuss who we usually consider heroes and how we imagine them. If there’s a hero, [he/she] must’ve had a background. [We’ll explore] how such a formulation occurs and whether it’s still important for us to redefine the meaning of heroes or perhaps it’s not relevant anymore and we should perceive heroism in a different way,” said Isyana.

“Kisah-kisah Masa Depan” will explore the opportunities that may arise when the world is increasingly divided by algorithms with algorithmically-influenced, biased version of reality. The session aims to address whether the future will be more diverse or fragmented.  

The theme follows a hero’s storyline, starting from how a hero is made, whether or not there is an antihero and its relevance in the future.

Writer and literary translator Tiffany Tsao, to speak in the “Kisah-kisah Fantastis” session, emphasized the importance of the theme. “What we consider as history and who we consider as hero will shape our perspectives as a community and an individual,” Tiffany said, adding that the theme bore a resemblance to her latest novel, The Majesties.

The 2019 JILF took place from Aug. 20 to 24 at Taman Ismail Marzuki arts center in Central Jakarta. It consisted of exhibitions, workshops and a book bazaar. The Road to Jakarta International Literary Festival 2021 will collaborate with Transit bookstore in Pasar Santa traditional market, South Jakarta, that will offer the featured speakers’ books for sale. (wng)



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