Harvill Secker has acquired two "fierce and unconventional" books from Indonesian writer Intan Paramaditha. It will publish feminist short story collection Apple and Knife in spring 2019 and The Wandering, a novel about displacement where the reader chooses their own narrative path, in 2020.
Ellie Steel, senior editor at Harvill Secker, signed UK and Commonwealth rights in both books from Kelly Falconer at Asia Literary Agency.
Paramaditha, the author, said Apple and Knife "tells stories about disobedient women who negotiate with their social structures" whereas The Wandering "engages with the issues of travel, mobility, and displacement in our global world".
Apple and Knife was inspired by horror fiction, myths and fairy tales and, according to Harvill Secker, it is "an unsettling ride that swerves into the supernatural to explore the dangers and power of occupying a female body in today’s world". The short stories are set in everyday Indonesian places - in corporate boardrooms, in shanty towns and on dangdut stages - but reveal "a soupy otherworld stewing just beneath the surface".
By contrast The Wandering is a "choose-your-own-adventure-style" novel about travelling the world. Its jumping off point is the story of Dorothy and her ruby slippers. Readers are invited to slip them on and roam on a path of their own choosing between New York, Berlin, Jakarta and Lima.
Apple and Knife was translated by Stephen J Epstein and has already been published in Australia and New Zealand by Brow Books following its publication launch last weekend at New Zealand’s Writers and Readers Festival.
Ellie Steel, senior editor at Harvill Secker, said both books were "fierce and unconventional", hailing Paramaditha’s writing "exhilaratingly wild, fun and feminist".
Paramaditha is an Indonesian writer now based in Sydney whose fiction has earned awards in Indonesia including the Kompas Best Short Story Award and Tempo Best Literary Fiction of the Year. She also contributed to Kumpulan Budak Setan alongside Man Booker International Prize-longlisted author Eka Kurniawan and Ugoran Prasad.
Paramaditha commented on the deal with Harvill Secker: "While these books are shaped by the cacophony of contemporary Indonesia – fast-moving neoliberal urban spaces, religious conservatism, and the legacies of authoritarianism – there are universal questions to share: How do we resist? What does it mean to cross boundaries?
"Thanks to the faith, perseverance, and creativity of Stephen J Epstein, who has been translating my work for years, and the edgy Australian publisher Brow Books, I had the opportunity to share these questions through fiction beyond Indonesia. And now, with the unfailing support from Asia Literary Agency, the two books are embarking on a new journey. Harvill Secker persistently champions international literature; I am delighted they will be the home for my writing, and deeply honoured by the opportunity to work with Ellie Steel and her team."
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