Fans in Jakarta Turn Out for Book of Rain Stories
When the rain clouds gather in Jakarta, there’s nothing soothing about the hard winds and the enveloping gloom.
The first few droplets from the sky herald the coming chaos: unmoving traffic, the deafening cacophony of honks and sirens, murky potholes and flooded sewage drains. The romance of the pitter-patter of water splashing onto the ground is lost. Not many people want it to rain in Jakarta—it’s nothing more than a slippery inconvenience.
But if you find yourself at home waiting for the storm to subside, a new book can keep you company. “Perempuan Yang Melukis Wajah” (“The Lady Who Paints Faces”), a compilation of 11 short stories by eight authors, is perhaps the silver lining to those towering cumulonimbus clouds.
“Perempuan” was launched at Kinokuniya bookstore at Plaza Senayan on June 22, followed by a book signing and discussion. The event attracted an enthusiastic audience that included many of the featured writers. It almost felt like a family affair with many of the writers being cheered on by close acquaintances and family members.
As we took our seats in the bookstore, we were offered small cards on which we were told to write our thoughts about the word “rain.” By the end of the event, all the cards had been pasted onto an oversized wall, forming a collage of thoughts and opinions.
“This,” according to Ndoro Kakung, one of the writers featured in “Perempuan,” “is exactly what the book is about.” Each distinct blurb does not count for much on its own, but when viewed together, as Ndoro pointed at the wall, there is a much weightier meaning we can derive from it.
The discussion then started as Lucy Wiryono, the event’s moderator, called Ndoro and Nukman Luthfie, known to some as Jakarta’s own George Clooney, the CEO of Virtual Consulting, onto the stage. The two quickly found their rhythm, bantering back and forth as Ndoro shared his thoughts on the book, while Nukman discussed the implications of social media on the act of writing and authors today.
At the request of one of the audience members, Ndoro elaborated on the concept behind “Perempuan” and how the project came together. According to Ndoro, who is an avid blogger, the creation of the compilation was an attempt to “read social media.”
Along with the many common themes shared between the stories, there exists another similarity, he noted.
“Most, if not all of the writers involved in the production of this compilation have been recognized through their active participation in social media platforms,” Ndoro explained. “Whether through the form of lengthy blogs, personal websites or just mere twitter updates, these writers have in more than one way utilized such platforms to showcase their works.”
As a social media user himself, Nukman added to Ndoro’s comments regarding the growing dependence on social media.
According to Nukman, social media has transformed the way people communicate. He identified two different “castes” or “statuses” of social media users — “creators” and “conversationalists.”
“Creators are those who don’t use social media passively, they create new things and are fueled with the constant desire to produce while simultaneously innovating their creations,” he said.
“As for conversationalists, they are those who passively take into account the creations of those creators, and engage their works, tweak them and appropriate them to form their own version of the original.”
Distinguishing writers this way, according to Nukman, is a reliable strategy for understanding how writers are continually affected by their surroundings and development in communication media.
For those writers still stuck in the “caste” of the conversationalists, and seeking to evolve to become creators, Nukman suggested the adoption of consistency.
“Consistency is key,” he said, “especially if you wish for a perpetual source of inspiration.”
Speaking of inspiration, an audience member asked Ndoro about where the inspiration came to build “Perempuan” around the theme of rain.
Ndoro offered an almost poetic response: “Every raindrop carries with it a potential narrative.”
He added that a large part of the theme was influenced by the poetry of Pak Sapardi Djoko, whose many rain-inspired works are known for their romantic, lyrical quality.
As the event came to a close, Ndoro attempted to convince the audience that even when the tales take a melancholic turn, the warmth and happiness that emerge at the end are worth staying home for.
“You don’t need an umbrella for a rainy day,” he said, “a good book and some hot coffee will suffice.”
Perempuan Yang Melukis Wajah: 11 Cerita Pendek di Hari Hujan
Ainun Chomsun, Fajar Nugros, Hanny Kusumawati, Karmin Winarta, M. Aan Mansyur, Mumu Aloha, Ndoro Kakung, Wisnu Nugroho
Gramedia Pustaka UtamaRp 38,000