Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ayu Utami, Nirwan Dewanto win Khatulistiwa literary prize

Ary Hermawan and Matheos Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sat, 11/15/2008 11:03 AM | Headlines

Author Ayu Utami was announced the winner of the Khatulistiwa Literary Award 2008 late Thursday for her novel Bilangan Fu (Fu Number), a criticism of modernism, militarism and monotheism.

Ayu, who has slammed the award as a "literary competition without literary criticism", was represented at the event at Plaza Senayan, Central Jakarta, by her publisher, Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia.

"I am happy to receive the award, but I will not retract my criticism of the competition," she told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Nirwan Dewanto was awarded the prize in the poetry category for his work titled Jantung Lebah Ratu (The Queen Bee's Heart).

In the young talents category, Wa Ode Wulan Ratna was awarded for her work Cari Aku di Canti (Find Me in Canti). The 15 finalists in the three categories were also recognized for their achievements.

The Khatulistiwa award was established by writer and bookstore owner Richard Oh in 2001.

Ayu said her latest novel was "more solid and complex" than her previous ones, the critically acclaimed Saman and Larung, which was nominated for the award in 2002.

Ayu, who turns 40 this Nov. 21, also received the 2000 Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands government.

The award, which honors Indonesia's best fiction and poetry, selects original works published between July 2007 and June 2008 and distributed across Indonesia.

The winners in the prose and poetry categories each received Rp 100 million (US$8,800) in cash, while the winner of the young talented writer category received Rp 25 million.

The panel of judges in the final stages consisted of Seno Gumira Ajidarma, Budi Darma, Linda Christanty, Remy Sylado and Hamsad Rangkuti.

Seno Gumira Ajidarma praised Ayu Utami's criticism of current popular beliefs.

"She is brave enough to be unpopular in this way of writing. Many people think a novel should be a light read but Ayu dares to make people wrinkle their brows when they read Bilangan Fu," Seno said.

He said Nirwan Dewanto had shown great achievements with the poetic form in Jantung Lebah Ratu.

"The hardest thing in poetry is that you have to express some sophisticated ideas in a short and specific piece," Seno said.

As for Ayu's claim that the award lacked serious literary criticism, Seno, who has won awards himself, said, "Don't take it too seriously ... It's not like defending a doctorate thesis."

The other books that made it to the short list were Hubbu by Mashuri, Rahasia Meede (Meede's Secret) by ES Ito, Kacapiring by Danarto, and Glonggong by Junaedi Setiyono.

Shortlisted in the poetry category were also Teman-Temanku dari Atap Bahasa (My Friends from the Roof of Language) by Afrizal Malna, Pandora by Oka Rusmini, Sajak-sajak Menjelang Tidur (Bedtime Poems) by Wendoko, and Orgasmaya by Hasan Aspahani.

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