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CLOSED CHAPTER: Pramoedya Ananta Toer's widow Maemunah, accompanied by some of her children and grandchildren, crouches at the author's grave after he was buried Sunday afternoon in Karet Bivak cemetery, Central Jakarta. JP/Mulkan Salmona

Literary icon Pramoedya dead at 81

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Acclaimed author Pramoedya Ananta Toer spent much of his life alone, in his solitary art, his years of imprisonment and also as an unyielding voice proclaiming what made the archipelago a nation today.

Yet he did not die alone Sunday morning, surrounded by family and his circle of loyal friends at his home in Utan Kayu, East Jakarta. Author Goenawan Mohammad, writer Martin Aleida, cultural observer Mudji Sutrisno, Solahuddin Wahid, politician Budiman Sudjatmiko, journalist Fikri Jufri, Cultural and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik and fellow political prisoner Oey Hay Djoen were among the friends who were at his home and later attended the funeral in Karet Cemetery.

Pramoedya, who was 81, suffered for many weeks from advanced complications of diabetes, high-blood pressure and lung problems. He was admitted to St. Carolus Hospital on Thursday night, and went into a coma Friday morning. When he regained consciousness the following afternoon, he demanded to be allowed to return home.

Pramoedya, affectionately called Pak Pram, was born in Blora, Central Java, on Feb. 6, 1925, the son of a teacher and a rice seller. He grew up to be true man of letters, an accomplished journalist, essayist and especially novelist. His works -- including the Buru Quartet and Nyanyi Seorang Bisu (The Mute's Soliloquy) -- have been translated into nearly 40 languages, garnering international acclaim and leading to nominations for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The ravages of aging -- he was visually impaired and almost deaf in his later years -- did not diminish his deep, strongly voiced convictions. As well as his many faithful supporters, his obstinacy accrued enemies, including within the local literary community, who disliked him and his politics.

Imprisoned during the finals days of Dutch colonialism in the late 1940s, and again by the Sukarno administration in 1959, he was incarcerated on notorious Buru island for political prisoners from 1965 to 1979. The latter was due to alleged communist sympathies from his involvement in Lekra, a leftist cultural organization prominent in the 1960s.

He had totally stopped writing, except "for signing checks", he quipped, since 2000. After Buru, he largely spent his days making clippings to finish his ambitious Indonesian encyclopedia project because, he said, "no Indonesian pays enough attention to their own homeland".

"I don't think anyone can ever stress enough the important role he played in the creation of Indonesia as a concept, as a nation," John McGlynn, a translator of many of Pramoedya's works into English and the founder of the Lontar Foundation, said Sunday.

"... he saw Indonesia as a nation. He took on the role as an educator, teaching his fellow Indonesians that there is a place called Indonesia."

In public events, Pramoedya, whose father was an ardent nationalist, always reminded the younger generation that the most important event in Indonesian history was Sumpah Pemuda (Youth Oath) in 1928, the foundation of Indonesia from a divided, far-flung archipelago into one nation.

"Pram admired Soekarno, because he saw how Soekarno united 17,000 islands into one nation," leftist author Martin Aleida said. "But what I think was most admirable in Pram's personality was his staunch belief in personal freedom, a conviction frowned upon by his leftist community."

Pramoedya, who is survived by wife Maemunah Thamrin, eight children and several grandchildren, received many international awards, including from France, Japan and Norway.

The Indonesian government, wary of a backlash from those who disliked the author, never bestowed any honors on him.

Today, his books are available, although a ban on some has yet to be officially lifted. Still, no imprisonment or official cold shoulder could deny his powerful storytelling.

"I saw at his home today that (Vice President) Jusuf Kalla sent flowers and Minister Jero Wacik came to his house," Budiman Sudjatmiko said. "The funeral was sad, but at the end of the day, I think Pram triumphed in his battles."

 

 
Back to Home Page Latest News April 30, 2006
 

Pramoedya Ananta Toer dead at 81

JAKARTA (AP): Renowned Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who suffered from heart trouble and diabetes, died Sunday, a family member said. He was 81.

Pramoedya died at home, his daughter Tatiana Ananta said. "My father died peacefully at 8.55 a.m. He had dedicated his whole life to this country through his work. We all have lost a great father, a great author. I am very proud of him," she toldThe Associated Press.

An outspoken champion of democracy, Pramoedya was taken home Saturday after several days in the intensive care unit at St. Carolus Hospital in Jakarta.

Pramoedya, who spent several years in prison under successive regimes, was nominated several times for a Nobel Prize in literature and his 34 books and essays have been translated into 37 languages.

His best-known works - the Buru Quartet novels about Indonesia's independence struggle against the Dutch - were written on scraps of paper and surreptitiously smuggled out while he was imprisoned on the remote island of Buru.

Pramoedya was first jailed in 1947 by Dutch troops for being "anti-colonialist."

He was imprisoned again after Soeharto's militaryadministration took over in 1966, and spent 14 years without trial on the penal colony on Buru island, along with thousands of other opponents of the U.S.-backed regime.

Pramoedya, who has suffered health problems for years, was initially hospitalized Thursday with heart problems and complications from diabetes, said his son-in-law, Gunawan, who uses one name. (**)

Famed Author Pramoedya Ananta Toer Dies

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Famed Indonesian Author Who Overcame Imprisonment and Censorship, Dies

By NINIEK KARMINI

The Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who overcame imprisonment and censorship to publish dozens of stories and novels about his country, died at home Sunday among family, his daughter said. He was 81.

Pramoedya was hospitalized Thursday in the intensive care unit of Jakarta's Catholic St. Carolus Hospital to receive treatment for heart trouble and diabetes, but was taken home Saturday at his family's request.

"My father died peacefully at 8.55 a.m.. He had dedicated his whole life to this country through his work," his daughter Tatiana Ananta told The Associated Press. "We all have lost a great father, a great author. I am very proud of him."

Age and deteriorating health combined with a sense of closure in his work kept Pramoedya from writing since 2000, though he collaborated with one of his daughters on an encyclopedia of Indonesia.

His grandson, Kiki Sepitan, said that immediately after arriving home in East Jakarta on Saturday night his grandfather lit up a kretek, clove cigarette he was rarely seen without one and that his condition deteriorated overnight.

One of his last requests was for tobacco, Kiki said, but his family refused.

Born in 1925 to a rice farmer during Dutch colonial rule, Pramoedya was an outspoken champion of democracy even in his last frail years.

Pramoedya's works and his life tell the history of Indonesia over more than half a century.

But his ideas once a major influence fueling the pro-democracy groundswell that toppled Suharto have been largely cast aside as Indonesia struggles to revive its economy, defeat Islamic extremists responsible for a string of deadly bombings, and put down separatist rebellions.

Pramoedya advocated the removal of bureaucrats and politicians "tainted" by Suharto-era abuses, but many of the old dictator's cronies remain in office.

He also wanted an inclusive government that welcomed people from parts of the sprawling Indonesian archipelago outside the main island of Java, but the Javanese still hold the reins of power.

"I am half blind and almost totally deaf, but I won't stop being angry because not many people are outraged enough at the state of Indonesia," he told The AP in 2004.

Pramoedya, jailed under successive regimes for 14 years under former dictator Suharto was nominated several times for a Nobel Prize in literature and his 34 books and essays have been translated into 37 languages.

Pramoedya was first jailed in 1947 by Dutch troops for being "anti-colonialist." He was accused of sympathizing with Chinese communists and imprisoned shortly after Suharto came to power in the aftermath of the assassination of right-wing Indonesian generals in 1965.

Pramoedya's left-leaning, outspoken style of politics earned him enemies within Suharto's "New Order" and his works were banned from circulation.

He was thrown in a cell without trial, first off the coast of mainland Java, and then in the penal colony of Buru in the eastern islands of the Indonesian archipelago, along with thousands of other opponents of the U.S.-backed regime.

His best-known works the "Buru Quartet" novels about Indonesia's independence struggle against the Dutch were written on scraps of paper and surreptitiously smuggled out while he was imprisoned in Buru.

The Star Online > Apworld

Sunday April 30, 2006

Renowned Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer dies aged 81

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Renowned Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who overcame imprisonment and censorship to publish dozens of stories and novels about his country, died at home among family Sunday, his daughter said. He was 81. 

Pramoedya was hospitalized Thursday in the intensive care unit of Jakarta's Catholic St. Carolus Hospital with heart trouble and complications from diabetes, but was taken home Saturday at his family's request. 

"My father died peacefully at 8.55 a.m. (0155 GMT). He had dedicated his whole life to this country through his work,'' his daughter Tatiana Ananta told The Associated Press. 

"We all have lost a great father, a great author. I am very proud of him,'' she said. 

Age and deteriorating health _ combined with a sense of closure in his work _ kept Pramoedya from writing since 2000, though he collaborated with one of his daughters on an encyclopedia of Indonesia. 

Grandson Kiki Sepitan said that immediately after arriving home in East Jakarta Saturday night, his grandfather lit up a clove cigarette _ he was rarely seen without one _ and that his condition deteriorated overnight. 

One of his last requests was for tobacco, Kiki said, but his family refused. 

Born in 1925 to a rice farmer during Dutch colonial rule, Pramoedya was an outspoken champion of democracy even in his last frail years. 

Pramoedya's works _ and his life _ tell the history of Indonesia over more than half a century. 

But his ideas _ once a major influence fueling the pro-democracy groundswell that toppled former dictator Suharto _ have been largely cast aside as Indonesia struggles to revive its economy, defeat Islamic extremists responsible for a string of deadly bombings, and put down separatist rebellions. 

Pramoedya advocated the removal of bureaucrats and politicians "tainted'' by Suharto-era abuses, but many of the old dictator's cronies remain in office. 

He also wanted an inclusive government that welcomed people from parts of the sprawling Indonesian archipelago outside the main island of Java, but the Javanese still hold the reins of power. 

"I am half blind and almost totally deaf, but I won't stop being angry because not many people are outraged enough at the state of Indonesia,'' he told The AP in 2004. 

Pramoedya _ jailed under successive regimes, including 14 years without trial under Suharto _ was nominated several times for a Nobel Prize in literature and his 34 books and essays have been translated into 37 languages. 

His best-known works _ the "Buru Quartet'' novels about Indonesia's independence struggle against the Dutch _ were written on scraps of paper and surreptitiously smuggled out while he was imprisoned on the remote island of Buru. 

Pramoedya was first jailed in 1947 by Dutch troops for being "anti-colonialist.'' 

He was later accused of sympathizing with Chinese communists and imprisoned again shortly after Suharto came to power in the aftermath of the assassination of right-wing Indonesian generals in 1965. 

Pramoedya's left-leaning, outspoken style earned him enemies within Suharto's regime and his works were banned from circulation.  

He was thrown in a cell without trial, first off the coast of mainland Java, and then in the penal colony of Buru in the eastern islands of the Indonesian archipelago, along with thousands of other opponents of the U.S.-backed regime. 

Pramoedya, who has suffered health problems for years, was initially hospitalized Thursday with heart problems and complications from diabetes, said his son-in-law, Gunawan, who uses one name.

Reuters Sun 30 Apr 2006

Nobel candidate Pramoedya dies

By Jerry Norton

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's best-known author and perennial Nobel candidate Pramoedya Ananta Toer died on Sunday, the family said.

Pramoedya, known for his anti-colonial novels and long history of persecution by past regimes, had been suffering respiratory problems and chest pains in recent days and had refused to eat, national news agency Antara reported.

Antara called him "one of Indonesia's great literary men".

He died at his daughter's home in East Jakarta, one of his grandsons told Reuters. He was 81.

Born in Central Java in 1925, Pramoedya spent 14 years living on a desolate prison island called Buru under former autocrat Suharto because of his perceived links with communism.

While on the swampy, malaria-ridden island, Pramoedya conceived his best-known quartet of novels, the Buru series, tracing the early independence movement against the Dutch.

He published the series after his release in 1979.

His books -- he wrote some 30 in all -- have been translated into nearly 40 languages.

Pramoedya was denied pens or pencils during much of his term on Buru.

But he once told Reuters he had recited the stories so often to fellow prisoners all he had to do after his release was put pen to paper and the words flowed.

His hearing was permanently damaged during an assault by a soldier while in prison. But it was the burning of his manuscripts and books by the authorities in the mid-1960s that left the deepest scar.

"After 1965, all the contents of my personal library were burnt to the ground, my house was confiscated," Pramoedya once said, referring to the year when a coup attempt blamed on communists sparked massive bloodshed that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

BLUNT

Pramoedya's links with the Communist-affiliated People's Culture Institute led to his imprisonment on Buru. After his release, he was put under house arrest and barred from travelling for many years.

Though born and raised on Indonesia's main island Java, he had few of its traits emphasising humility and indirectness.

Quoted by Antara at a birthday party when he turned 80, Pramoedya blasted Indonesia as a "continent of corruption".

In his later years he made the odd appearance at book launches, and entertained guests -- who often had to shout to get their point across to the frail and nearly deaf author -- at a comfortable villa in West Java.

Writing was not Pramoedya's only love. He was big fan of Indonesia's trademark kretek cigarettes, a unique combination of tobacco and cloves.

Speaking to Reuters in March 2004, Pramoedya savoured the taste as pungent smoke shrouded his face.

"If my doctor says I shouldn't smoke, I'll fire him. Really, why take away something so joyous in life," said Pramoedya, at that time puffing through two packets a day despite a weak heart.

"The taste of kreteks is Indonesia."

Married twice, Pramoedya had nine children and 16 grandchildren, according to Antara.

(With reporting by Telly Nathalia)

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Last updated: 30-Apr-06 06:29 BST