BOOKS: SETTING FREE THE WORD

DENIED PEN AND PAPER IN PRISON, INDONESIA'S GREATEST NOVELIST COMPOSED AN ORAL MASTERWORK

Among the cruel ironies that have haunted the career of Indonesia's most acclaimed and influential writer, one stands out as especially grotesque. Pramoedya Ananta Toer's masterwork, four related novels known as the Buru Quartet, deals with the brutally oppressive Dutch rule of his country at the turn of the century; but the regime that burned his manuscripts and library, beat him so that he remains half deaf, jailed him for 14 years without charges or trial and still bans his books and restricts his travel is not Dutch but Indonesian.

During the first years of his imprisonment for leftist views by...

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