Laksmi Pamuntjak is invited to our symposium for two main reasons: as an influential contemporary writer who has addressed national history in her work, and as the daughter of the Indonesian architect Mustafa Pamuntjak, who graduated with a degree in architecture from the Technical University Berlin in 1960. We want to speak about how her views on architecture were influenced by her father, and about her experience with the power of literature to draw readers’ awareness to issues and ideas.
Laksmi Pamuntjak, novelist, poet, journalist, and food writer, Jakarta
Laksmi Pamuntjak (b. 1971) is an award-winning, internationally-published bilingual Indonesian novelist, poet, journalist, and food writer. She writes widely on culture and politics, including op-eds for the Guardian.
Pamuntjak’s debut novel, Amba: The Question of Red, has been translated into several languages and won the German Literaturpreis 2016. The filmic adaptation of her second novel, Aruna dan Lidahnya, was screened nationwide in 2018 and had its European premiere at the prestigious Berlinale International Film Festival in February 2019.
In 2018, Pamuntjak’s first English novel, Fall Baby, was published in Germany under the title Herbstkind. One year later, the original version was published by Penguin Random House SEA and won the 2020 Singapore Book Award for Best Literary Work.
Since 2021, she has been hosting Kitab Kawin, a popular podcast based on her collection of short stories about women in relationships.
As a poet, Pamuntjak has published several poetry collections and was the Indonesian representative at Poetry Parnassus, UK’s largest poetry festival, in conjunction with the London Olympics. Her poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in numerous international literary journals.
As a food writer, her most notable contribution to Indonesian culinary history is five editions of the Jakarta Good Food Guide series, launched in 2001. The series is widely acknowledged as Indonesia’s first independent and literary good food guide.
As an art writer, Pamuntjak has been an international jury member for the Prince Claus Award, an annual award-giving body of the Prince Claus Fund, an Amsterdam-based international art and culture philanthropy organization. She published a short fiction collection inspired by paintings, written on art for various publications, and produced a number of musical and dance performances in Singapore and Jakarta.
She is currently co-curating an exhibition in Jakarta to commemorate the centennial of Chairil Anwar, arguably Indonesia’s greatest poet.