Fri, 22 Dec 2000

Three original works grab awards for best Indonesian books

JAKARTA (JP): Three original Indonesian works of literature -- Modernisme Sebuah Tinjauan Historis Desain Modern, Renaisans Islam Asia Tenggara and Kembali Ke Akar Kembali Ke Sumber -- won on Thursday the best book awards in their respective categories.

Two other books, translations of John Steinbeck's classic Nobel winning novel The Grapes of Wrath and Amin Maalouf's Cadas Tanois, won the Best Indonesian Translation Award.

Minister of National Education Yahya Muhaimin presented the awards organized by the Buku Utama Foundation, which was founded by cultural critics and experts in 1973.

"Books are windows to the world. It is nice to still have quality, critical books despite the fact that our country is undergoing a crisis," Yahya said.

Modernisme, Sebuah Tinjauan Historis Desain Modern (Modernism, A Historical Review of Modern Design) was written by Agus Sachari and Yan Yan Sunarya. It received the award for Best Book on Science and Technology.

Published by Balai Pustaka, it details the development of modern western designs in sociology and history.

Azyumardi Azra's Renaisans Islam Asia Tenggara (Islamic Renaissance in Southeast Asia) received the award for Best Book on Social and Humanitarian Sciences.

Azyumardi in his work presented nine writings on the rise of Islam in Southeast Asia, its past, present and future, and its specific characteristics which differentiates it from Islam in the Middle East.

Kembali ke Akar Kembali ke Sumber (Return to the Roots, Return to the Source) won the award for Best Book on Literature.

Written by Abdul Hadi W.M. and published by Pustaka Firdaus, the book consists of writings on the nation's Islamic literature.

Ida Sundari Husen and Sapardi Djoko Damono received the award for Best Indonesian Translation for their translation of Cadas Tanios and The Grapes of Wrath, respectively.

"We are hoping for more good books to come next year," Yahya said.

Each winner received a cash prize of Rp 5 million.

The winning books were selected from a total of 187 books in five categories.

No books in the children's book category received any awards although a total of 75 titles were considered in that category.

The foundation had established a team of judges for each category.

Noted poet Taufik Ismail, who headed the team of judges for the literature category, said after the ceremony that in a bid to further bolster writing skills among children, a total of 600 teachers in Java and Sumatra were recently given a course in teaching writing skills.

"Next year we will hold a similar program for teachers in the eastern regions of Indonesia. It's a shame that Indonesia is stuck with a generation who are 'blind in reading and paralyzed in writing' because writing compositions was never taught in class in a fun and creative way," Taufik said.

Yahya further revealed his plans to accelerate the quality of education in regions outside Java, on the sidelines of the ceremony.

"I want the quality of education outside Java to be equal to that in Java. With the implementation of regional autonomy and the distribution of the (education) employees to the region...the teaching methods will be more progressive," he said.

He added that some 120 hours of reading and writing classes will be imposed on students from elementary to senior high schools per year.(edt)