Sitor Situmorang

Sitor Situmorang (1924–2014) is one of the most celebrated Indonesian literary voices of the twentieth century. Born into a high-status family of the Batak ethnic group in North Sumatra, he was a Dutch-educated Indonesian nationalist who experienced firsthand the transition from the Dutch East Indies of his youth to the modern Indonesia of his adulthood.

He was a writer dedicated to exploration and change but resolutely attached to the land, people, and stories of his homeland. His short stories are set variously in Western Europe, Bali, post-independence Jakarta, and modernizing communities in his native North Sumatra, and they explore—as the translators put it—the “perpetual tension between the urge to wander and a longing for origins.” The characters are both introspective and physical, the settings sparse but evocative, the circumstances ordinary yet unexpected.