Indonesia Becomes the Family of the European World

Printed books to many people are still so appealing that they are willing to stand in line for hours just to get the books they want. Printed books to me are way more attractive than E-books. But, tonight’s post is not about the war between these two, but rather about the annual event we attended last week:The German biggest book fair in Frankfurt, on which Indonesia got the honour to be the guest of honour as every year one country will be selected as the guest of honour to present itself to the European world. As an Indonesian living in Germany, I am totally proud of the honour we got, something like ‘Whoaaa, we have been selected! they want to hear us.’ There is a thrill of happiness, a sense of being noticed by the world, especially the European world. Since I moved here to Germany almost 4 years ago, I have heard only nice things about Indonesia. Indonesia has been quite well-known in Germany, BUT not with her books and authors.

The Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) (German: Frankfurter Buchmesse) is the world’s largest trade fair for books, based on the number of publishing companies represented, as well as the number of visitors.

It is held annually in mid-October at the Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The first three days are restricted exclusively to trade visitors; the general public can attend on the last two.

Representatives from book publishing and multimedia companies from all over the world come to the Frankfurt Book Fair in order to negotiate international publishing rights and licensing fees. The fair is organised by a subsidiary company of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. For five days more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries and more than 286,000 visitors take part. The Frankfurt Book Fair is considered to be the most important book fair in the world for international deals and trading. Wikipedia


The famous Indonesian comics characters like Semar, Gareng, Petruk are displayed here.


A book is a light in which the light enlightens everyone who reads it and discovers the secret within.

The event was held from the 14th of October until the 18th of October 2015. As it’s mentioned above that the general public can only attend on the last two days, we were lucky to be able to attend both last two days. Our main focus on the first day we came (October 17th) was on the Indonesian pavilion where some great Indonesian books were displayed, along with some great programs focusing on Indonesia, all about Indonesia: the music, the food, the history, the people, the old Javanes transcript written in Lontar leaves to name a few. I’d say the pavilion is well presented as people are offered the opportunity to get to know the famous Indonesian comics characters, in some other parts of the pavilion visitors are spoiled with the fragrance of some traditional spices commonly used in Indonesian cooking, Angklung a traditional instrument from Western part of Java, and some examples of shadow puppets. I remember my daughter playing with them there. I honestly did not take many snapshots this time as I was too overwhelmed by the books presented here and there, oh yes I love books, the smell of  paper, the rustle of the pages when I flip through the books. It’s all heaven on earth.


On the first day opened for general visitors, we were lucky enough to enjoy the dancing performances from Sumatera if I am not mistaken, before another discussion about Indonesia was held on this room. We did not stay for the discussion, because I honestly came here to grab Indonesian books, well mostly, you will know what I meant at the end of the post, what I regreted not doing. I actually planned on meeting some friends here too, but sadly we came a bit too late. When we came, my other friends had just headed back home.  It was pretty challenging bringing along a toddler to such a big fair like this. But, it went well! we survived, and two thumbs up for my daughter who had been quite cooperative. She loves books too, by the way.

On the second day opened for general visitors, we went straight away to the hall where some Indonesian publishers presented their books for sale. Oh yes, some people say that book sale is mostly done on this day, however some friends were lucky enough to be able to buy books on the first day already. Actually, I did buy two books on the first day. There are actually quite expensive, but hey they are worth buying. The books I focused on buying were Indonesian books (it  goes without saying) that have been translated into German. I find it interesting to have some Indonesian books with German translation. It’s just different. You know, Indonesian children’s stories are unique since cultural values affect the story lines so much that it differentiates them from the usual children books sold here. If only I had a permission to let you take a short peek of what it is inside the book of some of the Indonesian children books. I would violate a copyright if I took a snapshot of inside the book and published it here. Anyhow, the cultural values like I mentioned before, like the clothes, the behaviour, the words presented on the Indonesian books become a magnet for foreign readers, and in this case the German people.


A German publisher that publishes Indonesia book.

12039035_10153021586097522_703426761505098982_oI did make a  list of books I (or we) wanted to grab. However, Plan A doesn’t always work.Some books I wanted were probably alread sold out, I grabbed whatever I found and LIKE  there to replace the book I did not get. Some books turned out to be only for a presentation purpose. And what’s interesting part was that some books were given for free! I did get some for our daughter. One of the staff from the publishers came to us and gave us five small books for our daughter, ‘ Just take them, for a gift!’ WHOAA! lucky us! My husband bought an Indonesian book translated into German and published by the German publisher, and for that we got to go to a different part of the hall, separated from the hall where all Indonesian publishers had their stands on one spot.  12105796_10153021595672522_9218512715641396662_n12122818_10153021592627522_7958247488628483348_n


It looks like we got many, but if I were allowed to be a bit greedy, I wished we had grabbed more. So, here are the lists of books we got, in case you want to have some of them too.

1.BALI Menggugat (Putu Setia)

Paperback, 390 pages
Published February 24th 2014 by Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia
original title
Bali Menggugat
edition language: Indonesian
2. A Brief Hitory of Indonesia : Sultans, Spices, and Tsunamis:The Incredible Story of Southeast Asia’s Largest Nation.
(Tim Hannigan)
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Tuttle Publishing
0804844763 (ISBN13: 9780804844765)
Seno Gumira Ajidarma
Copyright to the original Indonesian stories 2015
Copyright to the English translations 2015 Jan Lingard and John H McGlynn
The Lontar Foundation
4. Karyamin’s Smile
Ahmad Tohari
5.Abdoel Moeis
Never the Twain
First published in Indonesia in 1928
By Balai Pustaka under the title Salah Asuhan
English Language edition copyright 2010 the Lontar Foundation
6.Si Bungsu Katak (The Youngest Frog) by Murti Bunanta
Bilingual Indonesian English
7.Andere Wiese, andere Grashüpfer oder Andere Länder, andere Sitten
Indonesisch-deutsche Sprichtwörter und Redensarten im Vergleich
Inna Herlina und Kevin Nandzik
Meanwhile these all I could give as the rest of the  books are in our daughter’s room now, and by the time I am writing this, she is sleeping.
I have to say that going to the biggest book fair, especially when your country becomes the guest of honour is worth visiting as you want to know how well you are in the world of printed books. Indonesia is a big country, and they’ve got to have some great authors whose visions and ideas are heard by the international pannel, the European world. There is one thing I regret BIG TIME, I missed the opportunity to meet BJ Habibie, one of the most notable Indonesian scientists I have always adored.

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5 responses to “Indonesia Becomes the Family of the European World

  1. Pingback: One-of-a-kind Children’s Books | The Pearl of Java·

  2. How fascinating! You have me drooling with book lust. I should do some research into translated Indonesian literature. The country was my husband’s childhood home. He and his sisters never quite got over being homesick. Of course with the brilliance of historical hindsight they had no business there, but that is a whole other topic. Thanks for reporting.

    • It was fascinating! Oh, first of all thanks for sharing your thoughts! and sorry for the late reply. It’s good to know that Indonesia is somehow related to the childhood of your husband. Good memory I hope. If I may suggest an Indonesian author, please search Pramodya Ananta Toer. His books have been translated into several languages.

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