Year published :October 2018

Pages :162 pp.

Size :14 x 21 cm.

Rights :World

ISBN: 9786162151491

Oceans of Longing: Nine Stories

by Sitor Situmorang

Translated by Harry Aveling, Keith Foulcher, and Brian Russell Roberts

Sitor Situmorang (1924–2014) was one of the most prominent Indonesian writers of the mid-twentieth century. Born into a high-status family of the Batak ethnic group indigenous to 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.

The nine stories in this collection are a window into the world of a postcolonial Indonesian writer dedicated to exploration and change but resolutely attached to the land, the people, and the stories of his Batak homeland. Set variously in northern Europe, the maelstrom of post-independence Jakarta, and modernizing traditional communities in his native North Sumatra, the stories live in—as the translators put it—the “perpetual tension between the urge to wander and a longing for origins.” Indeed, Sitor’s short stories speak not only to readers interested in Indonesian literature and literary modernism but also to all who ponder what it means to find one’s place in the world.

Selected by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop for their AAWW Staff Picks: Best of 2018


  • A collection of nine poignant short stories by a major Indonesian author.
  • Contains all the stories in Sitor’s award-winning 1956 collection Pertempuran dan Saldju di Paris(Combat and Snow in Paris).
  • Juxtaposes narratives of modernization in Indonesia and expatriate life.
  • Provides a touchstone in the development of modern Indonesian literary aesthetics.

About the Translators

Harry Aveling is a literary translator and expert on Indonesian/Malay literature.

Keith Foulcher is an honorary associate at the University of Sydney who writes on modern Indonesian literary and cultural history.

Brian Russell Roberts is an associate professor at Brigham Young University, with a specialization in international modernisms.

What others are saying

“Sitor’s stories are remarkable for the powerful moods they create, for his ability to present human relationships in a balanced, non-judgmental way, and his use of sparse but highly evocative backgrounds.”—Nugroho Notosusanto (Siasat, August 28, 1957)

“This collection is an absolute pleasure. At long last the prose fiction of this eminent twentieth-century Indonesian poet has been compiled and curated for an English-speaking audience. Thoughtfully and elegantly translated, these nine stories bear testament to Sitor Situmorang’s skill as a writer, not to mention his engagement with the issues facing his fellow countrymen within Indonesia and abroad.”—Tiffany Tsao, literary translator and author of Under Your Wings


Indonesian literature | short stories | international modernism | postcolonial studies | alienation

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