< People

Ayu Utami A New Age Writer

Ayu Utami A New Age Writer


The success of someone’s career sometimes begins when they meet an unfortunate condition. This sentence is proved by Ayu Utami, whom known to be a successful writer after losing her job as a journalist.

Ayu Utami was born and raised in Jakarta. After finishing her bachelor degree on Literature Faculty of University of Indonesia, she became a journalist for Humor, Matra, Forum Keadilan, and Demokrasi & Reformasi magazine under Tempo management. On that military regime era, mass media must have SIUPP (Surat Izin Usaha Penerbitan Pers), an Indonesian license for mass media publishing which was so hard to get.

Not long after the closure of Tempo, Editor, and Detik on New Order era, Ayu took part on forming Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (Indonesian independent alliance of journalists) to protest the media closings. Ayu participated on building Utan Kayu Theater, a center of art activities, thoughts, and freedom of information, and now as the curator. She is also one of the Jurnal Kalam redactors and a researcher in Studi Arus Informasi Institute.

When having her life as an activist, Ayu was interested to write a novel. Ayu, who taught by strong religion and cultural knowledge since she was young, seen so much of injustice and moral distortion. This made her bringing the themes of sex, insanity, and religion in her creations. These themes made her known as a trendsetter later on.

Her first novel was Saman, which won a roman-writing contest of Sayembara Mengarang Roman by the Jakarta Art Council in 1998. From that work, Ayu caught attention from many readers and literature critics as her novel was considered of bringing new era of Indonesian literature world. Because of Saman, Ayu also got Prince Claus Award 2000 from Prince Claus Fund, a foundation in Den Haag, Netherlands, who had mission of supporting and promoting cultural and development activities. Her other creation, Larung, which her novel duology, Saman and Larung, also caught public’s attentions. Until now, Ayu is still known as a novelist and drama scriptwriter.