Secrets Need Words: Indonesian Poetry, 1966-1998
Ohio University Press, 389 pp
In Australia, despite having Indonesian as one of the languages commonly available to students in primary and secondary school, and despite having departments of Indonesian Studies in all the major universities, the literature of the world’s third most populous country and ‘our closest neighbour’ is not well known. It is mostly the province of academic specialists, not general readers. The reason for this is partly cultural in that Australian readers, particularly readers of poetry, tend to be more interested in American, European or British poetry, and partly a consequence of the poor support given to the art of translation. Yet two of the best-regarded translators of Indonesian literature, Harry Aveling and Max Lane, reside in Australia.