Indonesian Literature After Reformasi: The Tongues of Women

Harry Aveling


The end of the Suharto regime in May 1998 unleashed a flood of free speech in Indonesian literature and the popular press, which had long been suppressed during the “New Order” period. In literature, this new freedom was signified by the theme of “Sastra Reformasi,” a literature of “Reformation.” This writing was socially committed to changing the regime and promoting new and more democratic values. This paper discusses works by three major writers of this new era, all of them women: Helvi Tiana Rosa, Ayu Utami, and Dewi Lestari. Each of these writers deals with this period of rapid social change, and its impact on social and personal (especially sexual) morality. The paper suggests that the tongues of women are beginning to speak, with an increasing strength in various and sometimes violent ways, to the enormous changes in personal values which are continuing to take place in Indonesian society.


Indonesian women writers, Reformation literature, self-fulfillment, sexuality, violence in Acheh

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