Sunday 12 August 2018, 4 to 5.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

This August Indonesia's only (!) club devoted to the study and enjoyment of the literature of the land of Aleksis Kivi turns its attention to the critically acclaimed Leena Lehtolainen and her new thriller, Henkivartija. The title means bodyguard, and the eponymous character gets inadvertently caught up in a tale of political intrigue with international consequences in this, the author's foray into the crime thriller. Unfortunately for general literature lovers, the book and discussion are in Finnish, so to attend you would need to either learn the language really fast or (more likely) already be proficient in it. Please note the new Sunday afternoon start time!

Friday 17 August 2018, 12 to 5 pm

Indonesian Independence Day Party

Admission: Rp 200,000 for adults, Rp 100,000 for children (6-11 years)

Come to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of Indonesia's proclamation of independence by attending our party of food, culture, and fun! There will be the traditional panjat pinang (greasy pole climbing with prizes for anyone who makes it to the top), a speech about how Indonesia ended up an independent country in 1945, live symphonies from a gamelan orchestra, dance performances from a local gamelan troupe, and singing by an Indonesian singer yet to be announced. The centrepiece of the event will be a banquet for kings in the Indonesian style: suckling pig, chicken satay in peanut sauce, yellow rice, beef in rendang sauce, mie goreng, tofu in coconut curry, a selection of sambals, and much more besides. If you are in Indonesia for this independence day, now you know where to spend it. Thank you, you say? You are most welcome.

Sunday 19 August 2018, 4 to 5.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

The next instalment of Bedah Buku Ubud, Bali's only monthly get-together for lovers of literature in Indonesian for Indonesians (though foreigners who speak the language are also most welcome), will be about Sagra, a collection of short stories by Oka Rusmini published by Grasindo in Jakarta last year. This is a fantastic opportunity to get to know the work of said author and discuss it in an intimate, informal setting. It promises to give valuable insight into the psyche of the modern Indonesian female and fits in with our mission to give a voice to those who traditionally have not had one.

Sunday 26 August 2018, 4 to 5.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

Thank you to the people who came to July's meeting. It is the prerogative of all attendees to have a say in the choice of book for the following meeting; the democratically elected winner was The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. Set in the England of the 1940s, it follows an affair that is abruptly cut off before a chance meeting two years later re-ignites the protagonist's jealousy, eventually turning it into an obsession. Thus after two months of Indonesian history, we return to the hallowed halls of literary fiction. And who better to usher us in than Graham Greene? Please note the change in the start time for the next meeting: still the last Sunday of the month, but 4 pm instead of 11 am (so you can all enjoy your Sunday brunches with leisure before making your way down to Gayatri).

Past events

Sunday 29 July 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

After last month's fairly one-sided and sycophantic biography of Indonesia's second president, Soeharto, it is appropriate that the book chosen for this month's meeting is Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence. It is a compilation of essays, interviews, and first-hand witness testimony of what happened in Indonesia in the last months of 1965 put together by a group of university students from Yogyakarta led by Baskara T. Wardaya. What makes the work especially compelling is that it contains testimony from witnesses who were neither perpetrators or victims, which helps us to understand more deeply the historical context of the events, as well as accounts from survivors of the human rights violations. The stated aim of the book is to provide stories and narratives from "below", that is the voices of ordinary people engulfed by the events in question, which were for decades subject to heavy censorship by the New Order regime. The book was written for an Indonesian audience but has been translated into English by Jennifer Lindsay and is published by Monash University Publishing as part of the Herb Feith Series.

Saturday 21 July 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

If people read more in Indonesia, there would have been less bloodshed (it's hard to aim a rifle when you are reading Eka Kurniawan), less social inequality (because information is power), and more joy (because reading is fun). The lack of a reading culture, coupled in some instances with an outright hostility towards books, is linked to the lack of progress in Aceh by one of the characters in Tanah Surga Merah, the 2016 novel by Arafat Nur, and the Bedah Buku Ubud book for July 2018. It is the story of an Aceh Independence Movement fighter returning to his home town after five years on the run and what he finds there.

Saturday 14 July 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

The book chosen for July's meeting was Lang by Swedish-speaking Finnish author Kjell Westö. It is a compact story about a double divorcee TV presenter man going through a mid-life crisis, in the midst of which he falls for the much younger Sarita. It is a modern, urbane tale of love, suspense, and crime. The critic Joni Pyysalo of Suomen Kuvalehti has called it Westö's finest work. This was Baltasaarin kirjakerho's first dip into the world of Finnish literature written in Swedish.

Saturday 30 June 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

At this meeting, we turned our attention to history in the form of O. G. Roeder's seminal biography of Indonesia's second president, The Smiling General: President Soeharto of Indonesia. The first biography of the controversial man, published at a time (1969) when there was scant information about him publicly available in English, Roeder's account is based on interviews with the general-turned-president himself, as well as his inner circle. It is an oft-cited work in later research but with less than three hundred pages of content was chosen also because of its accessibility.

Saturday 23 June 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

The book dissected in this meeting of Indonesia's only Finnish language book club was the Finnish translation of Julian Barnes' hit book Flaubert's Parrot (Flaubertin papukaija). It is a novel about a retired doctor with an obsession for the masterful French novelist, Gustave Flaubert. The book is an eclectic collection of different writing styles, ranging from historical fiction, travel, biography, dictionary, and literary criticism, all tied together by Barnes' idiosyncratic rapier wit and delightful turn of phrase. The basic premise is that the protagonist is in the process of creating an account of the life and work of the author he so admires, but along the way the reader experiences the pleasure of Barnes' musings on the contemporary literary scene, solitude, genius, and the value of the personal in art. It is a stunningly original book and a real turn-on for anyone with a literary bent. Note: this was actually the March 2018 meeting of Baltasaarin kirjakerho re-scheduled (from 10 March 2018).

Saturday 16 June 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

At this edition of Bedah Buku Ubud, the book was the critically acclaimed 2012 novel by Laksmi Pamuntjak, Amba. It is a modern re-imagining of the love story between Amba and Bhisma from the Hindu epic, The Mahabharata, set during the political turmoil in Indonesia in the mid-1960s.

Saturday 9 June 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

Our Finnish book club took a decidedly academic twist this June, as the book chosen was Elämä: Tutkimus José Ortega y Gassetin filosofiasta. It is the book version of the PhD thesis in theoretical philosophy by the Finnish academic Pekka Lempiäinen. José Ortega y Gasset was a Spanish philosopher and intellectual who lived from 1883 to 1955. The writer looks how the philosopher's thoughts changed over time and the implications of his conclusions. The work has a wide scope and includes, among other things, discussions about history, art, technology, religion, and morality. Thus the title, Elämä (Life).

Saturday 26 May 2018, 1 to 2.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

At this month's edition of our original English language book club, the book was A Maggot by John Fowles. Published in 1986, it is a novel set in the rural England of the 1830s and begins with the arrival of a strange travelling party at the inn of a small town. Some time after arriving, one of the group disappears, one is found dead, and the rest have fled the scene. The remainder of book is a slow unpeeling, layer-by-layer, from each character's point of view, with many false leads and unexpected twists along the way before the final denouement. What makes the writing remarkable is the many different kinds of narrative devices used, which include third person narration, first person (in letter form), interrogation in a question and answer format, historical newspaper bulletin, and the voice of a modern person looking back at the events as a historical event. Notable also for the historical detail and the attempt to re-create the language used in the day, Fowles has created an ambitious work that exudes literary awareness and constituted a fine choice for the book club.

Saturday 19 May 2018, 1 to 2.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

The book for this meeting was Dari Ngalian Ke Sendowo by Nh. Dini. It is part of her memoir series, and covers the early 2000s. It is an intimate (self-)portrait of the Indonesian literary great, with memorable passages about her domestic life, such as the difficulty of finding a suitable maid and the financial constraints placed upon one who lives off writing in a country that does not read, travels to Thailand and Japan, and the politics behind literature awards (she first spurns the South-East Asia Writers' Award for Indonesia on grounds of principle but is some years later persuaded to accept). The work is a fascinating glimpse into the daily workings of a woman who, even in her seventies, still writes daily and inspires with her strength and good humour. Nh. Dini won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2017 (Ubud Book Club was grateful to be present at the handing over of the award and a later event in which she spoke about her life's work).

Saturday 12 May 2018, 1 to 2.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

The book chosen for this month's meeting was Ihon Aika by Anja Kauranen. It is a tale of a woman seeing to her mother in the very latest stages of her life, in an old people's home. Through objects found in her mother's room, to which she had never had access to before, a whole new past is revealed: one in which she has two sisters instead of one, in which her mother had (at least) two lovers instead of one, and the significance of the East is seen in a different light. Kauranen writes in short bursts of bright metaphors, long lists, and a kind of stream of consciousness narration in which the past and the present often change places, old things come back repeatedly but not always looking the same, and what happens is memory as opposed to plot. She writes about a parent's sexuality, mental illness, and bodily functions with the forthrightness of a Finn but her strikingly original style, idiosyncratic vocabulary, and ability to condense worlds into few words place her in the attentions of national and international reviewers alike.

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