Ayu Utami

Ayu Utami

Ayu Utami was born in Bogor in 1968. She received numerous Indonesian literature awards, and was also the recipient of Prince Claus Award Laureate in 2000 for her dedication to the improvement of Indonesian culture and society. During Indonesia’s military regime, Ayu was a journalist and press freedom activist. She was one of the founders of The Alliance of Independent Journalists which was later banned by the military regime. Her first novel Saman (1998), published just a few days before Soeharto stepped down, was highly acclaimed by literary critics and became a bestseller as well as an icon of the spirit of freedom during the political change (Reformasi) in Indonesia. In Indonesia’s democratic political system, she sees that religious radicalism constitutes the main challenge to freedom of expression. Therefore, she focuses her works to the promotion of what she names as “critical spiritualism”. This concept was firstly mentioned in her novel Bilangan Fu (The Number Fu, 2008) and permeates all of her works ever since. Ayu is currently the Director of Salihara Literature & Ideas Festival (LIFEs), and the program director of Komunitas Utan Kayu.