Luce Scholar Lara Norgaard Recognized for Essay on Underrecognized Indonesian Writer

For her thoughtful piece praising the work of Indonesian writer Putu Oka Sukanta, 2019-20 Luce Scholar Lara Norgaard was recognized as a runner-up in an essay contest organized by online literary journal Asymptote, and judged by J. M. Coetzee. Currently living in Jakarta on her Luce Year abroad, Norgaard was able to meet with Putu in person, hearing his perspective on his work, and enriching her analysis of his oeuvre and its roots in the violent history and impoverished communities of his homeland.

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From contest judge J. M. Coetzee
Putu Oka Sukanta (born 1939) has had the misfortune to live and work in the shadow of the great Pramoedya Ananta Toer. A fraction of Putu Oka’s poetry and fiction has appeared in English translation, but only from small presses. Lara Norgaard makes a compelling case that his work should not be judged by Western aesthetic standards, which prize the fully achieved single art-work, but rather should be read in toto as the record of an evolving meditation on Indonesia in our times.

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