Laksmi Pamuntjak’s debut novel was the star when Indonesia appeared as guest country at the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair.
Glittering appearance without the red carpet. The Question of Red was the big star when Indonesia appeared as guest country at the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair. A red carpet would certainly have been out of place because, in this debut novel by Indonesian author Laksmi Pamuntjak, red stands primarily for the colour of blood. In a modern interpretation of Indonesia’s national epic Mahabharata, the lovers Amba and Bishma become separated from one another in the turmoil of a street fight during a demonstration against General Suharto’s seizure of power. Decades later Amba is on a quest for information about her lover on the prison island of Buru, where he was believed to have been abducted at the time. Pamuntjak develops around this story the panorama of a young nation and its tumultuous history in the 20th century. “I had decided to attempt to write a novel,” Laksmi Pamuntjak said modestly in an interview. She added: “I say ‘attempt’ because I started as a novice.” German literary critics have highly praised her work.