Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Born: 6 February 1925
Died: 30 April 2006
Pramoedya Ananta Toer was an Indonesian author of novels, short stories, essays, polemic, and histories of his homeland and its people. His works span the colonial period, Indonesia's struggle for independence, its occupation by Japan during the Second World War, as well as the post-colonial authoritarian regimes of Sukarno and Suharto. Since some of his writings considered as provocative for the oppressing government, both the Dutch and Indonesian authoritarian regime imprisoned him from 1947 to 1949 and from 1965 to 1979 respectively. In the first years of Indonesia’s independence, Pramoedya wrote several works of fiction dealing with the problems of the newly founded nation, as well as works based on his wartime memoirs.
When he was held in prison from 1965 until 1979, he was banned from writing but still managed to orally compose his best-known series of work to date, the Buru Quartet, a series of four historical fiction novels chronicling the development of Indonesian nationalism and based in part on his own experiences growing up. The quartet includes strong female characters of Indonesian and Chinese ethnicity, and addresses the discrimination and indignities of living under colonial rule, the struggle for personal and national political independence. Like much of Pramoedya's work, they tell personal stories and focus on individuals caught up in the tide of a nation's history.
Though many outside of Indonesia consider the work as a classic, the publication of his writing was banned in Indonesia causing one of the most famous of Indonesia's literary works to be largely unavailable to the country's people whose history it addressed. Copies were scanned by Indonesians abroad and distributed via the Internet to people inside the country. Pramoedya earned several accolades, and was frequently discussed as Indonesia and Southeast Asia's best candidate for a Nobel Prize in Literature.
Pramoedya Ananta Toer was one of the Great Utopians for his work in developing literature in Indonesia as well as describing the situation during colonial and war times.