Award Citation

Mr. Pramoedya Ananta Toer has written many novels which raise penetrating questions of national independence and the emancipation of mankind for the whole world. His novels have exerted an influence well beyond the national boundaries of Indonesia. This makes him one of the truly great writers of Asia.

Mr. Pramoedya was born in Blora, Central Java, now Indonesia in 1925. As he grew up, he was greatly influenced by his father, who was a nationalist and schoolteacher, and his mother, who was caring and independent-minded. At the age of 17, he went to Jakarta alone to study politics, economics and Indonesian language, which was later to become the official language of the country. He was awakened to literature through his reading of many novels. He started to publish his own works, while employed as an editor at various publishing houses. In 1945, in the midst of the war triggered by the declaration of independence of Indonesia, he was arrested and imprisoned by the Dutch colonial forces. The novel he wrote in prison, "The Fugitive", was highly appreciated both within and without Indonesia, making Mr. Pramoedya known to the international societies as a writer. Following this novel, he continued to write. His early works include "Guerilla Family", "Stories from Blora", "The Downtrodden", "Corruption" and "On the Banks of Kali Bekasi".

Under the influence of China's proletarian literature, Mr. Pramoedya initiated a movement to promote social participation among the writers in the late 1950s. In 1959, however, his work which dealt with the overseas Chinese, became the reason for his second arrest and imprisonment. He was once again arrested for the third time in 1965 in the coup-attempt, so-called 'September 30 Movement', and he was in custody for 14 years until he was released in 1979 as the last political prisoner. The Buru tetralogy, which consists of "This Earth of Mankind", "Child of All Nations", "Footsteps" and "House of Glass", was the fruit of his story-telling to fellow political prisoners in the places to which he had been exiled. These novels are set in Indonesia between 1898 and 1918 under Dutch colonial rule. They have a Javanese hero who has received a Dutch-style education. In the story, the hero lives under the oppressive colonial rule as well as under the spell of local customs. Suffering from the double agonies of both of these existences, he began to understand the importance of national independence. This tetralogy is a historical novel on the grand-scale, reflecting Mr. Pramoedya's ardent wish for the independence of the Indonesian nationals and the emancipation of mankind in general.

Mr. Pramoedya's impressive talent is clearly indicated in the fact that he contributed to the maturation of the Indonesian language as a vehicle for literature. He has also tacitly woven the issue of nationalism so well into his stories, and his writing is of the highest quality. His works stand as world-class literature. All the works of the tetralogy, which was completed after his release in 1979, have been, and are now still, officially banned from publication in Indonesia. Though this has deprived people in Indonesia of the opportunity to read them, he has enjoyed a large reputation for his works both at home and abroad.

The ban in Indonesia on his tetralogy will be lifted sometime in the near future; therefore, Mr. Pramoedya's writings will continue to influence not only Indonesian literature but also that of the world. His work deserves acclaim; thus, he is a truly worthy laureate of the Grand Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes.