In a big step for Indonesian literature on the world stage, American publisher Farrar, Strauss and Giroux has agreed to publish an English-language version of the popular novel “Laskar Pelangi” (“Rainbow Troops”).
Author Andrea Hirata said the deal was a realization of his dream to see his book in print in the United States, adding that he hoped the English version would pave the way for other Indonesian authors.
“Hopefully, the agreement for the book’s publication will open the door for Indonesian literature to go international,” Andrea said in Jakarta on Thursday.
Andrea, the first Indonesian novelist to work with FSG, is in distinguished company. The publisher has released the works of award-winning writers like T.S. Eliot, Pablo Neruda, Nadine Gordimer, Seamus Heaney and Mario Vargas Llosa, among others.
“Rainbow Troops,” Andrea’s first novel, was published by Bentang Pustaka in 2005.
The film adaptation of the novel became Indonesia’s highest-grossing movie of all time, attracting 4.6 million viewers and making the rounds of the international film festival circuit.
The creative team behind the movie — producer, screenwriter and lyricist Mira Lesmana and director Riri Riza — has adapted the story for the stage.
The “Rainbow Troops” musical was first staged in Jakarta in December 2010 and was so successful that it ran for a second season in July. It also headlined Singapore’s annual Malay arts festival, Pesta Raya.
The 150-minute musical tells the story of children from a poor mining village on the island of Belitung, Sumatra, and their struggle to complete their education.
The cast and crew included young local talent from Yusof Ishak Secondary School and Sekolah Indonesia Singapura.