In the latest Indonesian literary development, the publication of several works of Seno Gumira Ajidarma (SGA) is interesting to note, recounting factual stories in his works. In his book entitled When Journalism is Shut Down, Literatute Has to Speak Up, SGA wants to convey the truth through a literary work when journalism fails to do it due to censorship.
Consistently, the writer who is also a journalist retells social and political incidents, such as mysterious killings of hoodlums in the 1980’s, the incident in Dili in 1991, ninja-style killings of criminals, May 1998 incident, or the war in Aceh. "All are violence. Things that could not be told during the dominant New Order Government as journalistic works were told in literature," Nurhadi, S.Pd., M.Hum, said on Wednesday (25/8) at the R.M. Margono Djojohadikusumo building, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, UGM.
The lecturer of Indonesian language and literature in Faculty of Language and Arts from Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta said those things during an open exam of doctoral program at UGM on his dissertation, Aspect of Violence as Reflection of Socio-political Condition in Seno Gumira Ajidarma’s Fictional Works (1988-2005), Nurhadi said that Seno Gumira Ajidarma in his works tells often of violent incidents.
Despite the intesity to create stories of violence, the moral message behind the stories is contrary to the violent incidents in concern. "Seno’s fictional works actually question the legitimacy behind the act of violence committed by the state to its citizens. His works in Belsey’s category are interrogative texts, which invite readers to respond to the questions arising in the text," said the man born in Kendaldoyong Pekalongan on 7 July 1970.
Nurhadi said that SGA as a writer has been banned several times. When he was an editor of Jakarta-Jakarta magazine telling about the Dili incident in 1991, he was banned. The ban had many forms starting from self-censhorship, being summoned to the military office to being dismissed as editor. "These bans caused him to shift his method of conveyance from journalistic to fictional pieces, short stories and novels. When Journalism is Shut Down, Literature Has to Speak Up has become his creed which he pointed out in his book of the same title," said the husband of Dian Swandayani, M.Hum.
As one of the main writers whose works are acknowledged by the Government, SGA did not always comply with the New Order Government. Recounting the social incidents in his fictional works, SGA still described the banned stories as a form to convey the truth.
"This is one of his resistances to Soeharto’s administration or the New Order which he considered authoritarian or totalitarian. His fictional works helped established the image of the authoritarian New Order Government. They also formed reader community following such image building," he said.