Pramoedya Ananta Toer 1925 - 2006
', who chronicled Indonesia's battle for independence against the Dutch in the Buru Quartet of novels composed in prison, died last Sunday
at his family home in South Jakarta.
His writings, well-received abroad but rarely found in bookshops here, were always focussed "on the large landscape, the historical, social and political forces that came together to create Indonesia," said John McGlynn, the director of publications at the Lontar Foundation and a translator of some of his works. "No other Indonesian author has succeeded as well as Mr. Pramoedya in doing this. And no other author has been willing to sacrifice so much to educate his compatriots.
Except, I feel that Pram only preached to those who shared his viewpoint. The poor and disenfranchised are too close to the world he portrayed, a world that few had the courage to describe.
Although nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, other awards, such as the PEN Freedom-to-Write Award in 1988 and in 2004 the Norwegian Authors' Union award for his contribution to world literature and his continuous struggle for the right to freedom of expression
best indicate his importance.
Following the downfall of Suharto, his nemesis, eight years ago Pramoedya continued to speak out against what he saw as the poor quality of leadership in Indonesia. Who will now continue voicing the concerns of the muted?
An era ends.