What were your impressions from Frankfurt Book Fair 2014?
It was bigger than I expected. I’ve heard about FBF as one of the biggest book fairs in the world, but to actually be there and saw the size of the event was an entirely different experience. When I saw the Guest of Honor building I immediately imagined how it would be like if it was the Indonesian flag, Indonesian sign, and Indonesian books presented there. It was thrilling.
How did you experience the symbolic handover ceremony, where Indonesia was officially named Guest of Honour country for next year?
It was touching. We all could see how emotional it was for Finland, knowing how hard they have prepared and their volumes of work for being the Guest of Honor in 2014. The stark contrast between the cool Finland and hot Indonesia was also very interesting. It was like we were taken to travel to another side of the globe and experience the colorful world of culture and literature. I was more than proud to be one of delegates, introducing Indonesia the best way I could, from the talk to the ikat dress I wore from Ikat Indonesia. I know it was a literature event, but at that moment it really felt it was way more than that. It’s cultural. Book became a meeting point where people from all over the world meet and be in touched with the beauty of diversity.
You traveled to Berlin afterwards to have a reading at Dussmann. Could you share with me how the event went? Who were the people in the crowd, did you think there was much interest in you/ Indonesian literature in general?
First of all, I’m so impressed with Berlin. I found the city was very charming. And Dussmann has the perfect venue for writer’s event. That night, we had Berlin locals and Indonesians, including the ambassador Mr. Fauzi Bowo. The talk was lively with many interesting questions from the audience. We talked about the literature scene in Indonesia; the challenges and also the new hope. We also talked about the importance of Indonesia’s creative economy; its future and potential. We now have a new government and how the timing coincided with Frankfurt Book Fair 2015 nevertheless brought a new energy to our book industry, I hope we can seize the moment and use it as a momentum to bring Indonesian literature to a new level and recognition.
When you came back, you immediately published your new novel, and I see that it has created quite some buzz; even though you are a "seasoned" writer, do you still get very excited when publishing a new book, and seeing the reactions of your readers?
For me, each book is different. Even though my new book, Gelombang (The Wave) is a part of Supernova series, I still feel each episode carried a new spirit and created different dynamic with the readers. So, it always got me excited. The first Supernova episode came out almost 14 years ago, but with each episode, the series keep attracting first time readers. So, it’s always got me excited. Each episode always feels like a first book for me.
How do you personally prepare for next year's Frankfurt Book Fair? What remains to be done?
So many things to be done. After I’m done with my new book promotion, I’ll be working closely with my publisher to prepare the translations for my books. I’m pretty sure Indonesia can bring out solid cultural shows and performances for FBF ’15. I’m still concerned on the massive book translations Indonesia has to prepare, considering how short the time we have. I think that is our biggest homework.