Sunday 11 November 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

To all bibliophiles out there, who are proficient in the Finno-Ugric language known as suomi (in other words, Finnish)! On the second Sunday of November, you really don't want to be anywhere other than Gayatri, where we are meeting to discuss Boris Pasternak's classic novel, Doctor Zhivago (Tohtori Zivago in Finnish). Set around the upheaval, societal, emotional, and philosophical, of the Russian revolution in the beginning of the 1900s, it is a tale of family, love, and tragedy. We have a copy at Gayatri for anyone who would like to borrow one. Start time: 3 pm, which is the the best time really to enjoy tea, biscuits, and literary conversation.

 

Sunday 18 November 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

Bedah Buku Ubud is Bali's only monthly meeting for lovers of Indonesian literature. It takes place on the third Sunday of each month at 3 pm and lasts one hour and a half. The book discussed is usually by an Indonesian author but can also be a translation of the work of a foreign writer. Either way, the language of the book is always Indonesian and the discussion is in said language. In November, there will be two firsts: the first that the book will indeed be a translation of a work originally written in English by David Reeve; the second that it is a book about history (up until now we have had novels, a collection of short stories, and a collection of essays on religion). The title is Golkar: Sejarah Yang Hilang: Akar Pemikiran & Dinamika, which translates to Golkar: Missing History: The Roots of Their Thinking & Dynamics. Golkar is one of the biggest political parties in Indonesia and is an abbreviation of Golongan Karya, which means Workers' Faction. Historically it was Soeharto's party and during his reign one of only three parties allowed to operate. Now the party is not particularly associated with the military or the political right and is part of the coalition supporting president Joko Widodo's government. For the upcoming 2019 presidential elections, Golkar, the yellow party, have again pledged their allegiance to the incumbent in his fight for re-election against his rival, Prabowo Subianto, one of Soeharto's trusted generals in the 1990s. This is where we stand today, but how did we get here? Read the book to find out. As usual, a copy is available at Gayatri, tea and biscuits will be on the house at the meeting, and please email enquiries@gayatri.org to confirm if you are coming.

Sunday 25 November 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

Thank you again to everyone who came to last month's meeting of Ubud Book Club. It was so good we ended up having it twice (there was a mistake in the date in the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival programme book so some followed the time on our website, others the one in the festival programme). The book chosen for November by that finest of democratic processes, a direct vote, was Theophile Gauthier's subversive novel of coming of age and hedonism, Mademoiselle de Maupin. Published in the 1830s, the novel represents the age of "new hedonism" that Lord Henry talks about in The Picture of Dorian Gray, a world where aestheticism reigns supreme, one lives for the fullest experience of one's sensations, while rejecting the prevailing norms and orthodoxy with the ironic manner of the coolest dandy. Ubud Book Club meets on the last Sunday of each month at the cultural institution that is Gayatri. Tea and biscuits on the house. Remember to email enquiries@gayatri.org before coming so we have an idea of the number of people we should be expecting. There is a copy of the book here but currently there is a waiting list of one for it.

Past events

Sunday 28 October 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

October's meeting was a special Ubud Writers & Readers Festival edition of Ubud Book Club. The book that we discussed was The Nothing, the 2017 novel by "the rockstar of literature" Hanif Kureishi, one of the headline speakers of the festival. He discussed his life, work, and the book in a one-to-one session at Neka Museum on Day 2 of the festival on the Friday before the meeting. It tells the story of Waldo, a filmmaker in his old age, reacting to his much younger wife, Zee, falling in love with a conman. Typical for Kureishi, it is at times dark, others humorous and explores sex, race, and meaning in an uninhibited way. Showing a flagrant disregard for political correctness and any notion of respectability, the author is sure to shock and turn off some readers. Others will feel that his style makes the voice of the narrator more personal, more human, and more true. The act of loving fully and openly, the deception of betrayal, and the agonising gradual loss of one's strengths as one approaches death are all uncomfortable in one way or another so why should the language describing them be any different? Despite being accessible, the work, especially Waldo's first person narration, is often poignant and philosophical. It is rare for a writer to be able to combine the profane and the sublime in this way, not just in the same work, but often in the same sentence. The reader will be forgiven for wondering whether he is engaging in low or high culture, being entertained or made to reflect, being confronted by the ugliness of reality or being shown where love and beauty are truly to be found.

Sunday 21 October 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

Cendekiawan Hindu Bicara is a collection of essays from twelve Bali Hindu cultural figures edited by Putu Setia, known for his work on Bali Post in the early part of his career and then at Tempo. It was published in 1992 but the book is still relevant today. It provides an Indonesian language introduction to the foundations of Bali Hindu theology, including scripture, morality, and ritual and asks important questions about how Bali Hinduism is to adapt to the challenges posed by the twenty-first century. There is also a chapter on what good leadership is according to this religious tradition. All in all, it is an invaluable book for anyone interested in deepending their understanding of this way of life, which is known to be more about community, legacy, oral storytelling, singing, and making offerings than explanations in the form of the printed word.

Sunday 14 October 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

Baltasaarin kirjakerho is back! We missed one meeting last month because the host was very uncharacteristically out of the country. We will make up for the missed meeting, don't worry. For the curious among you, Baltasaarin kirjakerho is actually a pun: 'kirjakerho' means 'book club' in Finnish; 'Baltasaarin' literally means 'Baltazar's' but 'saari' means 'island' so 'Baltasaarin' can be taken to mean 'Balta island's' which sounds like a slang word for Bali. Baltazar is a literary reference to one of Jose Saramago's protagonists, of course. Anyway, this month: Koneen ruhtinas: Pekka Herlinin elämä by John Simon. Despite its English sounding author, it is a Finnish book. It is the biography of Pekka Herlin, legendary businessman and richest man in Finland when alive, thanks to the runaway success of Kone, a lift and escalator company (primarily) that became arguably the first Finnish multinational company, paving the way for Nokia to follow in its footsteps. Drawing on interviews with Herlin's family members and close work associates, as well as looking at his family history, childhood, and the social, political, and economic situation in Finland and Europe from the 60s to the 90s, this biography provides a very detailed and vivid description of Herlin, a man of immense complexity, and full of contradictions whose legacy continues to be felt in Finland to this day.

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. Thus after two months of Indonesian history, we returned to the hallowed halls of literary fiction. And who better to usher us in than Graham Greene? There was a change to the start time of Ubud Book Club this month: it was still on the last Sunday of the month, but 4 pm instead of 11 am (to give people the chance to enjoy their Sunday brunches with leisure before making their way down to Gayatri).

Sunday 19 August 2018, 4 to 5.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

August's 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), was about Sagra, a collection of short stories by Oka Rusmini published by Grasindo in Jakarta last year. It was a fantastic opportunity to get to know the work of said author and discuss it in an intimate, informal setting. Rusmini's writing gives 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.

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)

We celebrated the 73rd anniversary of Indonesia's proclamation of independence by organising an event-filled day that will be remembered by all who were part of it. The centrepiece of the event was a buffet with the finest offerings of Indonesian cuisine, including suckling pig, chicken satay in peanut sauce, yellow rice, beef in rendang sauce, mie goreng, tofu in coconut curry, a selection of sambals, and Balinese cakes. Bedulu First Primary School's children choir sang the national anthem as part of the flag-raising ceremony and entertained the guests with other Indonesian songs. The funnest part of the day was the games, when locals and tourists alike got to try their hand at local favourites associated with this day, such as the Nail in the Bottle Race, Lomba Krupuk (cracker eating contest), and Panjat Pinang (palm tree climbing competition). To close, we exhibited music from a local gamelan orchestra and two different styles of traditional Balinese dance, Legong and Baris Tunggal. This was the biggest event we have organised so far and was a worthy way of respecting the significance of the occasion.

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 turned 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 after the Finnish businesswoman she works for is found murdered in Russia. Worryingly, the female protagonist has no recollection of the hours leading up to her client's death as she was drugged at a critical moment. So not only is her professional reputation at stake, now she is also of interest to the police. That is how Lehtolainen sets up the novel. It includes signature traits of the genre, with a fast pace and bad dialogue with cops, and elements that place it firmly in Finland: a drunken rape attempt in a country cottage and an undying love for the wonderful nordic animal that is the lynx.

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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