Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer honoured in Google Doodle
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Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer honoured in Google Doodle

GOOGLE Indonesia on Monday marked what would have been the 92nd birthday of one of the nation’s most prominent writers with a “doodle” on its homepage.

The Internet giant commemorated Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s birthday with an animation of the prolific novelist hard at work on his typewriter.

Known as a proponent of human rights and freedom of expression, Pramoedya or ‘Pram’ as he is affectionately known, has a reputation for fighting Japanese and Dutch colonialism in Indonesia.

Pram, who was born on Feb 6, 1925, in a village called Blora on Java, learned about political activism from his father. His first stint in journalism was as a stenographer for a Japanese news agency.

Imprisoned by Dutch troops for being “anti-colonial”, Pram wrote his first novel The Fugitive Behind Bars during his incarceration from 1947-1949.

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“His novels throughout the 1950s continued to hold a mirror up to the impact of colonialism,” the Internet site said in the description of the Doodle.

In 1969, Pram was sent to the Indonesian island of Buru where he spent over a decade as a political prisoner following a coup and suspected of ties to the Indonesian communist party.

“When refused pen and paper, Pram turned to oral storytelling, sharing a story with his fellow prisoners about a Javanese boy named Minke who spurns Indonesia’s hierarchical society in the last years of Dutch colonization.”


Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer in the mid-1950s. Image via Wikipedia Commons

Pram brought Minke’s tale to life through the four-volume Buru Quartet after being granted a typewriter towards the end of his term. The story became his most well-known work.

“In fact, the books were smuggled out of Indonesia by Pram’s friend, a German priest, to avoid being taken or destroyed, and have now been translated into more than 20 languages worldwide,” Google’s description reads.

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According to Jakarta Post, the four volumes The Buru Quartet, consists of Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind), Anak Semua Bangsa (Children of All Nations), Jejak Langkah (Steps) and Rumah Kaca (Glass House).

During his time as a political prisoner, Pram was prohibited from using a pen and paper. The prohibition led him to share with his fellow inmates the story of Minke.

In 2006 when Pram died, his daughter, Tatiana Ananta, told Associated Press that the novelist “dedicated his whole life to this country through his work.”

“We all have lost a great father, a great author,” she said. “I am very proud of him.”

The also AP reported that Pram had been jailed under successive regimes, including 14 years under ex-dictator Suharto and was nominated several times for a Nobel Prize in literature.