Sunday, 28 April 2019, 15.00 to 16.40

 

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

This coming Sunday is the next instalment of Ubud Book Club! For all Indonesia fans out there, this month’s meeting will be a treat, as we will be discussing Indoesia Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation by Elizabeth Pisani. She was one of the guest speakers at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival some years back. We have one copy at Gayatri but it is currently out on loan, but you should be able to secure yourself a copy either from Ganesha Bookshop on Jalan Jembawan or Periplus. Timely too, as we will be sure to insert a bit of post-election analysis, as well as place what is happening now in its historical context, when we meet. Gayatri at 3 pm on 28 April 2019 – email me at bagus@gayatri.org to confirm that you are coming so we can prepare the right amount of refreshments.

 

Past events

Sunday, 21 April 2019, 15.00 to 16.30

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

This coming Sunday, the 21st  of April, will be the next meeting of Bedah Buku Ubud, our book club in Indonesian! The book to be discussed will be Prabowo Sang Kontroversi, a look back at the controversial life and career of Prabowo Subianto, former Special Forces general and now chairman of a political party. What will make the meeting extra special is that just four days before, on the 17th, will be the Indonesian presidential elections, in which he is trying to unseat the incumbent, President Joko Widodo. Start time 3 pm as usual. Be sure not to miss this one!

Hari Minggu yang akan datang adalah giliran Bedah Buku Ubud, klub buku kita dalam bahasa Indonesia! Buku yang akan dibahas adalah Prabowo Sang Kontroversi, yang mengulas sejarah yang begitu penuh dengan kontroversi yang mengelilingi calon presiden dari kubu 02, Prabowo Subianto. Apa perannya dia dalam penculikan aktivis-aktivis? Kenapa dia dipecat tanpa hormat dari TNI? Kenapa dia kabur dari tanah air yang katanya tercinta ini? Apa rencananya dia pasca-Soeharto? Pertemuan ini yang empat hari setelah pilpres akan beri kita kesempatan untuk bahas pemilu, pemilihan kita dan presiden Indonesia untuk period 2019-2024.

 

Sunday, 14 April 2019, 15.00 to 16.30

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

This month’s book for our book club in Finnish, Baltasaarin kirjakerho, is Zen ja rakastumisen taito by Brenda Shoshanna. The title translates to the fairly epic Zen and the Art of Falling in Love. If you 1) Speak Finnish and 2) have a heart why would you not want to come? Meeting is on Sunday 14 April 2019 at 3 pm. Tea and cake on the house (if you are susceptible to a bribe). Hope to see you there!

 

Tämän kuun Baltasaarin kirjakerhon tapaamisen kirjaksi valittiin Brenda Shoshannan Zen ja rakastumisen taito. Kun näin kirjan ensimmäistä kertaa, luulin nimen olevean Zen ja rakastamisen taito. Mutta se olisikin ihan eri kirja – joskus yksi kirjain voi muuttaa kaiken.  Eikös siitä ole Zenissä juuri kyse: kultivoi omaa huomiota niin, että aistit herkemmin asioita jotka ennen olisivat jääneet tiedostomatta. Lainaa kirja meiltä ja tule keskustelemaan siitä sunnuntaina, 14. huhtikuuta kello 15. Pullakahvit tarjolla (jos sinut pitää sitten oikein lahjoa). Lähetä viestiä osoitteeseen bagus@gayatri.org jos olet tulossa. Nähdään sunnuntaina!

Sunday, 31 March 2019, 15.00 to 16.30

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

This coming Sunday is the next instalment of Ubud Book Club, during which we will discuss Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s epic tale of unrequited love, Love in the Time of Cholera. For any of you who think you are long-suffering, or loyal, or sentimental in matters of the heart – do you think you could be constant in your love for fifty-one years after your fiance turns around one day and without explanation cuts you off and then goes on to marry the richest man in the town and be his faithful wife for five decades? The question of who loves the most, and who loves the purest, is one that has exercised writers from Maupassant through Fitzgerald to Kundera, but arguably none has made the case for the romance of the long wait as powerfully as Garcia Marquez in this novel. Come to express your agreement or differing point of view over some sweets and a drink at Gayatri at 3.

Sunday, 17 March 2019, 15.00 to 16.40

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

This Sunday is the next instalment of our burgeoning little community of Indonesian booklovers! Join the fun, don’t be shy, and share in the joys of reading and great conversation by coming to Gayatri on the 17th of March at 3 pm to discuss Anak Rantau by Ahmad Fuadi while enjoying something sweet and a drink on the house.

Hari Minggu adalah pertemuan berikutnya untuk komunitas pencinta buku kita! Jadilah salah satu dari kita dan datang untuk berbagi kenikmatan pembacaan dan percakapan yang seru pada tanggal 17 Maret jam 15.00. Kali ini karya yang akan dibahas adalah Anak Rantau oleh Ahmad Fuadi dan akan ditemani manisan dan minuman untuk semua hadirin

 

Sunday, 10 March 2019, 15.00 to 16.30

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

This month’s title for Baltasaarin kirjakerho, our monthly book club in Finnish, is Kauneus on kirous by Eka Kurniawan, translated from the original Indonesian, in which it is called Cantik Itu Luka. It is the author’s first novel and despite being published way back in 2002 it has become an international sensation in the last five years or so, starting from around the time Lelaki Harimau (Man Tiger) was translated into English and made it onto the foreign Booker long list. It is a hugely ambitious book, spanning many generations and places with the aim of the author nothing less than the telling of the history of Indonesia through novel form in the same way as Salman Rushdie does with regards to India in Midnight’s Children. It is one of my favourite novels of all time and it will be a special pleasure to re-read it in my mother tongue, Finnish. The meeting is on Sunday, the 10th of March at 3 pm at Gayatri. All Finnish speakers are welcome. Below the same in the language of the country of Eino Leino.

 

Tämän kuun valinta Baltasaarin kirjakerhoa varten on Eka Kurniawanin esikoisteos, Kauneus on kirous. Indonesiankielinen alkuperäisteos Cantik Itu Luka julkaistiin jo vuonna 2002 mutta siitä on tullut kansainvälinen myyntimenestys oikeastaan vasta viimeisen viiden vuoden aikana, sen jälkeen kun yksi hänen muista töistä, Lelaki Harimau (englanniksi Man Tiger, suomeksi Tiikeripoika) oli ehdolla Booker-palkintoa varten, ei englanninkielisten teosten kategoriassa. Kauneus on kirous on todella kunnianhimoinen teos, joka kattaa monta sukupolvea ja fyysistä sijaintia, jossa kirjailija ottaa haasteekseen ei enempää tai vähempää kuin Indonesian historian kertomisen romaanin muodossa, samalla lailla kuin Salman Rushdie käsittelee Intiaa kirjassaan Keskiyön lapset. Minä saan paljon tyydytystä siitä, että voin lukea yhden lempikirjoistani uudestaan, tällä kertaa äidinkielelläni. Siitä kiitokset kuuluu Mika Kaikkoselle, joka lahjoitti kyseisen painoksen minulle (kiitos sydämeni pohjalta!). Tapaaminen on sunnuntaina, 10. maaliskuuta kello 15 Gayatrissa ja kaikki suomalaiset ovat tervetulleita.

Photograph: Ni Kadek Stoodewi/Gayatri

Sunday 24 February 2019, 15.00 to 16.30

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

This is the book for the next meeting of Ubud Book Club: Persuasion by Jane Austen. As an eclectic book club, always looking to expand our horizons and test new waters, we like to mix up the old with the new, controversial books with the classics. In the past we have featured titles such as Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence by multiple authors, local authors ranging from Leila Chudori to Seno Gumira Ajidarma, and prominent female writers such as Margaret Atwood and Lionel Shriver. The thing about classics, and Jane Austen is included among them, is that they still need to be re-read by each generation, which is how they retain their status, and they deserve to be re-visited, such is their quality. So I am not saying that Austen is underread or underrated and we are doing the world a favour but I am not going to say sorry either for having a book that is so well-known as this month’s choice. I hadn’t read it, and I am guessing that neither have most of you. If you have, come to discuss it. If you haven’t, you still have time to pick up a copy from Gayatri, read it before the 24th, and come all prepared to the discussion at 3 pm. Tea and biscuits will be provided, for those who need a bit of bribing to entice them to literary conversations.

 

Sunday 17 February 2019, 15.00 to 16.40

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

Our book for this month’s meeting of Bedah Buku Ubud – book club in Bahasa Indonesia is Anak Semua Bangsa (Child of All Nations in English) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, which is the second of his Buru Quartet. We have featured him in our book clubs before but his life story, imprisonment, vision, and subtlety in handling colonialism, Indonesian national identity, and other social issues mean that there is always great excitement in the lead-up to a meet featuring one of his books. We are meeting as usual on the third Sunday of the month at 3 pm. This month it falls on the 17th. See you there – with coffee and Balinese cakes! Below the same in Indonesian.

Untuk pertemuan klub buku kita yang dalam bahasa Indonesia, Bedah Buku Ubud, bulan ini, novel yang akan dibahas adalah Anak Semua Bangsa, karya Pramoedya Ananta Toer yang merupakan buku ke-dua dalam Tetralogi Burunya dia dan melanjutkan kisah sosok Minke, laki-laki pribumi yang masih muda dan sangat menjanjikan, tapi berjuang dengan nasibnya dia yang tidak menentu, keraguan mengenai identitas dan masa depannya dan kehilangan istrinya dia yang baru dinikahi dan begitu cantik. Pertemuannya tanggal 17 Februari jam 3 sore di Gayatri. Datang untuk menikmati dan menjadi bagian dari percakapan hebat sambil menikmati kopi Kintamani dan jajan-jajan Bali.

Sunday 10 February 2019, 15.00 to 16.40

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

Like two branches growing out of the same trunk: the love story of Baltasar and Blimunda by José Saramago is the book chosen for next month’s Finnish book club. It will be held on the second Sunday of the month as usual, so in February that will fall on the 10th. If you are Finnish, come! If you know someone Finnish, tell them! Tea and biscuits or cake on the house. Good times to be had by all. Email enquiries@gayatri.org to tell us you are coming. Below the same in Finnish.

Kuin kaksi oksaa, jotka kasvoivat yhdestä puunrungosta: Baltasarin ja Blimundan eeppinen rakkaustarina on José Saramagon tunnetuin teos, ja ensi kuun Baltasaarin kirjakerhon, eli Indonesian ja todennäköisesti koko Aasian, ainoan kuukausittaisen suomenkielisen kirjakerhon, valinta. Kaikki suomalaiset ovat tervetulleita keskustelemaan kirjallisuudesta teen ja makean kera. Meillä on yksi kopio kirjasta Gayatrissa lainattavaksi, jos joku haluaa sen lainata. Kaikille lukutoukille, kirjoja rakastaville tai sitten niille, jotka ovat olleet Suomesta pitkään poissa ja kaipaavat vähän äidinkieltä ja suomalaista juttuseuraa (niinkuin minä) tämä tapahtuma on täydellinen. Ilmoittautukaa lähettämällä viestiä osoitteeseen enquiries@gayatri.org. Ensi kuuhun!

 

Sunday 27 January 2019, 15.00 to 16.30

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

For 2019’s first Ubud Book Club we are going to delve into Balinese traditions, history, and art in the foem of Fred Eiseman’s classic text, Bali: Sekala & Niskala. Join for an hour and a half of scintillating literary conversation at 3.00 pm on Sunday, 27th of January 2019 at Gayatri.

Sunday 20 Januari 2018, 3.00 to 4.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

Sunday 13 January 2019, 15.00 to 16.30

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

The book for next month’s meeting of Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish: Psykologian historia: Kreikkalainen kausi by Pertti Saariluoma.

A Finnish woman, in middle age and fresh from the excitement of moving to Bali, found out about us online and quickly reached out and arranged a meeting. This happened in April 2017. She brought books with her, asked to see our library, and we exchanged some magazines and newspapers. We spoke about the Finnish scene in Bali (small and fragmented, I told her), how we spend important Finnish holidays like Midsummer solstice, Independence Day, and Christmas, and where to get Finnish food in Bali (Gayatri, I said). In the middle of all this positivity and general effusiveness about all things Suomi, we decided to set up a Finnish book club, to meet at Gayatri once a month, with her and me as founding members. I thought, worst comes to pass, I will end up discussing Finnish literature with another bibliophile in my mother tongue once a month. Cool, I thought.

The first meeting came round. We advertised on Facebook, and semi-miraculously another Finnish person, real flesh and blood and everything, turned up, and not only did she know the book we were discussing, she was also a literature student at university (currently studying remotely). The meeting went well, we offered our differing viewpoints on the Finnish translation of White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, a Booker prize winner (the original, not the translation), enjoyed the cake and chai on offer, and I was amazed that such an unlikely event – a Finnish book club in the tropical island paradise of Bali – had got off to such a good start.

For the next month, we had agreed to read a war novel by one of the Paasilinnas. This is when the first problem arose. We had one copy between us and a month to read it. I gave the copy to the middle-aged woman and asked her to get back to me when she is done. She contacted me less than a week before the meeting to say that I could pick it up. After this, I contacted the literature student to see whether she wanted to read it next. I figured if she could finish it in a few days it would just give me enough time to read it myself before the meeting. That was the plan.

As it happened, she took the book, but then never got back to me. Not before the meeting, not in the weeks after when I emailed her to ask after it. In the circumstances, I felt obliged to postpone the meeting. As the weeks went by, I decided to forget the war novel and just move to the next one. To avoid the problem of having one copy between us and limited time, we chose six titles for the next six months and made a plan of how we would share them.

When the next meeting came round, the middle-aged woman did not turn up and the literature student was still out of reach.

The next month’s meeting, same thing. After several months, the literature student emailed me apologising, saying that she had been in Finland, and that I could collect the book if I wanted. I asked her if she could return it, and that is the last I ever heard of her.

Ever since then, I have been holding Finnish book club meetings every month. We choose the book for the following month with a completely transparent democratic process, a direct vote involving all of the participants. The winning book tends to be chosen by a tight margin of one. The meetings are regularly attended by one person, including myself. Sometimes I allow myself to ponder philosophically, is it still a meeting if only one person attends? Can it still be called a club? Or should it be called An Event Where a Person Reads? Or An Event Where Someone Analyses a Book to Himself, at a Pre-Determined Time? Either way, I am there, in case someone turns up, and because I am not the sort to lose hope easily, and besides, there is value there, for me, since I enjoy reading and doing it in Finnish keeps up my ability to speak it well, and also, I believe, for other people, even if those other people have not caught onto it yet.

Sunday 30 Desember 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Thank you to the people who came to last month’s meeting of Ubud Book Club, where we discussed the 1835 book about idealistic love, sexual desire, and fluid gender identity by Theophile Gautier, Mademoiselle de Maupin. At the end of it, as per usual, we had a vote on what we would read next, based on a shortlist put together by the host. Since the previous time he had been accused of overlooking female writers, this month’s titles were all by women: Ruth McVey, Margaret Mitchell, Jane Austen, Harper Lee, and Lionel Shriver. After recourse to a tie-breaker, the latter came out on top, with her 2012 novel The New Republic.

Shriver is primarily know for her critically acclaimed We Need to Talk About Kevin but over novels such as Big Brother, A Perfectly Good Family, and The Mandibles, she has shone a fascinating light on the generation gap, sibling dynamics, and aspirations of the modern American family. The New Republic is about a lawyer-turned-journalist, Edgar Kellogg, who leaves behind New York to take up a post as a foreign correspondent in Portugal, and explores themes including terrorism in the twenty-first century, the difficulty of living up to a much-loved predecessor, and personal magnetism.

As usual, we will prepare a drink and something sweet for everybody who comes to the event, but please remember to let us know of your intention to attend in advance by contacting us at enquiries@gayatri.org. A quick reminder also that Ubud Book Club meets on the last Sunday of each month, and as this month there are five Sundays we will be meeting on the fifth one instead of the usual fourth. A copy of the book is available to borrow from the reception at Gayatri and anybody interested is encouraged to take advantage of this fact. See you on the 30th!

Photograph: Ni Wayan Purwanti/Gayatri

Sunday 23 December 2018, 3.30 to 5.00 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

This week Sunday, the 23rd of December, will be the next instalment of Bedah Buku Ubud, Gayatri’s very own Indonesian language book club! It will be held from 3 to 4.30 pm and all Indonesian speakers who love to read and strongly urged to attend. This month the book to be dissected is Nayla by Indonesia’s own multi-talented, smoking, tattoo-wearing novelist, screenwriter, director, and rebel feminist, Djenar Maesa Ayu. Known for her unflinching and taboo-busting portrayals of sexual abuse, patriarchal oppression, and independent women on the archipelago, her voice is a truly courageous one and our only source of embarrassment is that we did not get to her sooner. She has also graced (lit up? Lifted eyebrows? Brought colours to cheeks?) at recent editions of Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, where she exhibited her characteristic traits of playing with formats (one full-length feature film she directed had only one character, who spends most of the movie in the same setting, her car), shocking her audience (another film, which she co-wrote and co-directed, was a mockumentary so morally ambiguous and believable that many people found it difficult to stomach), and her unquestionable commitment to fight for the empowerment of women.

Read the book (it is only thin), and come to Gayatri for a scintilliating conversation in bahasa over delightful tea and biscuits. Email us at enquries@gayatri.org to register for the event.

This is actually September's book club meeting re-scheduled. The original meeting had to be cancelled because the host was out of the country.

Sunday 16 Desember 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

Sunday 09 Desember 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

Sunday 25 November 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

Thank you again to everyone who came to last month's meeting of Ubud Book Club. It was so good we ended up having it twice (there was a mistake in the date in the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival programme book so some followed the time on our website, others the one in the festival programme). The book chosen for November by that finest of democratic processes, a direct vote, was Theophile Gauthier's subversive novel of coming of age and hedonism, Mademoiselle de Maupin. Published in the 1830s, the novel represents the age of "new hedonism" that Lord Henry talks about in The Picture of Dorian Gray, a world where aestheticism reigns supreme, one lives for the fullest experience of one's sensations, while rejecting the prevailing norms and orthodoxy with the ironic manner of the coolest dandy. Ubud Book Club meets on the last Sunday of each month at the cultural institution that is Gayatri. Tea and biscuits on the house. Remember to email enquiries@gayatri.org before coming so we have an idea of the number of people we should be expecting. There is a copy of the book here but currently there is a waiting list of one for it.

Sunday 18 November 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

Bedah Buku Ubud is Bali's only monthly meeting for lovers of Indonesian literature. It takes place on the third Sunday of each month at 3 pm and lasts one hour and a half. The book discussed is usually by an Indonesian author but can also be a translation of the work of a foreign writer. Either way, the language of the book is always Indonesian and the discussion is in said language. In November, there will be two firsts: the first that the book will indeed be a translation of a work originally written in English by David Reeve; the second that it is a book about history (up until now we have had novels, a collection of short stories, and a collection of essays on religion). The title is Golkar: Sejarah Yang Hilang: Akar Pemikiran & Dinamika, which translates to Golkar: Missing History: The Roots of Their Thinking & Dynamics. Golkar is one of the biggest political parties in Indonesia and is an abbreviation of Golongan Karya, which means Workers' Faction. Historically it was Soeharto's party and during his reign one of only three parties allowed to operate. Now the party is not particularly associated with the military or the political right and is part of the coalition supporting president Joko Widodo's government. For the upcoming 2019 presidential elections, Golkar, the yellow party, have again pledged their allegiance to the incumbent in his fight for re-election against his rival, Prabowo Subianto, one of Soeharto's trusted generals in the 1990s. This is where we stand today, but how did we get here? Read the book to find out. As usual, a copy is available at Gayatri, tea and biscuits will be on the house at the meeting, and please email enquiries@gayatri.org to confirm if you are coming.

Sunday 11 November 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

To all bibliophiles out there, who are proficient in the Finno-Ugric language known as suomi (in other words, Finnish)! On the second Sunday of November, you really don't want to be anywhere other than Gayatri, where we are meeting to discuss Boris Pasternak's classic novel, Doctor Zhivago (Tohtori Zivago in Finnish). Set around the upheaval, societal, emotional, and philosophical, of the Russian revolution in the beginning of the 1900s, it is a tale of family, love, and tragedy. We have a copy at Gayatri for anyone who would like to borrow one. Start time: 3 pm, which is the the best time really to enjoy tea, biscuits, and literary conversation.

 

Sunday 28 October 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

October's meeting was a special Ubud Writers & Readers Festival edition of Ubud Book Club. The book that we discussed was The Nothing, the 2017 novel by "the rockstar of literature" Hanif Kureishi, one of the headline speakers of the festival. He discussed his life, work, and the book in a one-to-one session at Neka Museum on Day 2 of the festival on the Friday before the meeting. It tells the story of Waldo, a filmmaker in his old age, reacting to his much younger wife, Zee, falling in love with a conman. Typical for Kureishi, it is at times dark, others humorous and explores sex, race, and meaning in an uninhibited way. Showing a flagrant disregard for political correctness and any notion of respectability, the author is sure to shock and turn off some readers. Others will feel that his style makes the voice of the narrator more personal, more human, and more true. The act of loving fully and openly, the deception of betrayal, and the agonising gradual loss of one's strengths as one approaches death are all uncomfortable in one way or another so why should the language describing them be any different? Despite being accessible, the work, especially Waldo's first person narration, is often poignant and philosophical. It is rare for a writer to be able to combine the profane and the sublime in this way, not just in the same work, but often in the same sentence. The reader will be forgiven for wondering whether he is engaging in low or high culture, being entertained or made to reflect, being confronted by the ugliness of reality or being shown where love and beauty are truly to be found.

Sunday 21 October 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

Cendekiawan Hindu Bicara is a collection of essays from twelve Bali Hindu cultural figures edited by Putu Setia, known for his work on Bali Post in the early part of his career and then at Tempo. It was published in 1992 but the book is still relevant today. It provides an Indonesian language introduction to the foundations of Bali Hindu theology, including scripture, morality, and ritual and asks important questions about how Bali Hinduism is to adapt to the challenges posed by the twenty-first century. There is also a chapter on what good leadership is according to this religious tradition. All in all, it is an invaluable book for anyone interested in deepending their understanding of this way of life, which is known to be more about community, legacy, oral storytelling, singing, and making offerings than explanations in the form of the printed word.

Sunday 14 October 2018, 3 to 4.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

Baltasaarin kirjakerho is back! We missed one meeting last month because the host was very uncharacteristically out of the country. We will make up for the missed meeting, don't worry. For the curious among you, Baltasaarin kirjakerho is actually a pun: 'kirjakerho' means 'book club' in Finnish; 'Baltasaarin' literally means 'Baltazar's' but 'saari' means 'island' so 'Baltasaarin' can be taken to mean 'Balta island's' which sounds like a slang word for Bali. Baltazar is a literary reference to one of Jose Saramago's protagonists, of course. Anyway, this month: Koneen ruhtinas: Pekka Herlinin elämä by John Simon. Despite its English sounding author, it is a Finnish book. It is the biography of Pekka Herlin, legendary businessman and richest man in Finland when alive, thanks to the runaway success of Kone, a lift and escalator company (primarily) that became arguably the first Finnish multinational company, paving the way for Nokia to follow in its footsteps. Drawing on interviews with Herlin's family members and close work associates, as well as looking at his family history, childhood, and the social, political, and economic situation in Finland and Europe from the 60s to the 90s, this biography provides a very detailed and vivid description of Herlin, a man of immense complexity, and full of contradictions whose legacy continues to be felt in Finland to this day.

Sunday 26 August 2018, 4 to 5.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

Thank you to the people who came to July's meeting. It is the prerogative of all attendees to have a say in the choice of book for the following meeting; the democratically elected winner was The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. Set in the England of the 1940s, it follows an affair that is abruptly cut off before a chance meeting two years later re-ignites the protagonist's jealousy. Thus after two months of Indonesian history, we returned to the hallowed halls of literary fiction. And who better to usher us in than Graham Greene? There was a change to the start time of Ubud Book Club this month: it was still on the last Sunday of the month, but 4 pm instead of 11 am (to give people the chance to enjoy their Sunday brunches with leisure before making their way down to Gayatri).

Sunday 19 August 2018, 4 to 5.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

August's instalment of Bedah Buku Ubud, Bali's only monthly get-together for lovers of literature in Indonesian for Indonesians (though foreigners who speak the language are also most welcome), was about Sagra, a collection of short stories by Oka Rusmini published by Grasindo in Jakarta last year. It was a fantastic opportunity to get to know the work of said author and discuss it in an intimate, informal setting. Rusmini's writing gives valuable insight into the psyche of the modern Indonesian female and fits in with our mission to give a voice to those who traditionally have not had one.

Friday 17 August 2018, 12 to 5 pm

Indonesian Independence Day Party

Admission: Rp 200,000 for adults, Rp 100,000 for children (6-11 years)

We celebrated the 73rd anniversary of Indonesia's proclamation of independence by organising an event-filled day that will be remembered by all who were part of it. The centrepiece of the event was a buffet with the finest offerings of Indonesian cuisine, including suckling pig, chicken satay in peanut sauce, yellow rice, beef in rendang sauce, mie goreng, tofu in coconut curry, a selection of sambals, and Balinese cakes. Bedulu First Primary School's children choir sang the national anthem as part of the flag-raising ceremony and entertained the guests with other Indonesian songs. The funnest part of the day was the games, when locals and tourists alike got to try their hand at local favourites associated with this day, such as the Nail in the Bottle Race, Lomba Krupuk (cracker eating contest), and Panjat Pinang (palm tree climbing competition). To close, we exhibited music from a local gamelan orchestra and two different styles of traditional Balinese dance, Legong and Baris Tunggal. This was the biggest event we have organised so far and was a worthy way of respecting the significance of the occasion.

Sunday 12 August 2018, 4 to 5.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

This August Indonesia's only (!) club devoted to the study and enjoyment of the literature of the land of Aleksis Kivi turned its attention to the critically acclaimed Leena Lehtolainen and her new thriller, Henkivartija. The title means bodyguard, and the eponymous character gets inadvertently caught up in a tale of political intrigue with international consequences after the Finnish businesswoman she works for is found murdered in Russia. Worryingly, the female protagonist has no recollection of the hours leading up to her client's death as she was drugged at a critical moment. So not only is her professional reputation at stake, now she is also of interest to the police. That is how Lehtolainen sets up the novel. It includes signature traits of the genre, with a fast pace and bad dialogue with cops, and elements that place it firmly in Finland: a drunken rape attempt in a country cottage and an undying love for the wonderful nordic animal that is the lynx.

Sunday 29 July 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

After last month's fairly one-sided and sycophantic biography of Indonesia's second president, Soeharto, it is appropriate that the book chosen for this month's meeting is Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence. It is a compilation of essays, interviews, and first-hand witness testimony of what happened in Indonesia in the last months of 1965 put together by a group of university students from Yogyakarta led by Baskara T. Wardaya. What makes the work especially compelling is that it contains testimony from witnesses who were neither perpetrators or victims, which helps us to understand more deeply the historical context of the events, as well as accounts from survivors of the human rights violations. The stated aim of the book is to provide stories and narratives from "below", that is the voices of ordinary people engulfed by the events in question, which were for decades subject to heavy censorship by the New Order regime. The book was written for an Indonesian audience but has been translated into English by Jennifer Lindsay and is published by Monash University Publishing as part of the Herb Feith Series.

Saturday 21 July 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

If people read more in Indonesia, there would have been less bloodshed (it's hard to aim a rifle when you are reading Eka Kurniawan), less social inequality (because information is power), and more joy (because reading is fun). The lack of a reading culture, coupled in some instances with an outright hostility towards books, is linked to the lack of progress in Aceh by one of the characters in Tanah Surga Merah, the 2016 novel by Arafat Nur, and the Bedah Buku Ubud book for July 2018. It is the story of an Aceh Independence Movement fighter returning to his home town after five years on the run and what he finds there.

Saturday 14 July 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

The book chosen for July's meeting was Lang by Swedish-speaking Finnish author Kjell Westö. It is a compact story about a double divorcee TV presenter man going through a mid-life crisis, in the midst of which he falls for the much younger Sarita. It is a modern, urbane tale of love, suspense, and crime. The critic Joni Pyysalo of Suomen Kuvalehti has called it Westö's finest work. This was Baltasaarin kirjakerho's first dip into the world of Finnish literature written in Swedish.

Saturday 30 June 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

At this meeting, we turned our attention to history in the form of O. G. Roeder's seminal biography of Indonesia's second president, The Smiling General: President Soeharto of Indonesia. The first biography of the controversial man, published at a time (1969) when there was scant information about him publicly available in English, Roeder's account is based on interviews with the general-turned-president himself, as well as his inner circle. It is an oft-cited work in later research but with less than three hundred pages of content was chosen also because of its accessibility.

Saturday 23 June 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

The book dissected in this meeting of Indonesia's only Finnish language book club was the Finnish translation of Julian Barnes' hit book Flaubert's Parrot (Flaubertin papukaija). It is a novel about a retired doctor with an obsession for the masterful French novelist, Gustave Flaubert. The book is an eclectic collection of different writing styles, ranging from historical fiction, travel, biography, dictionary, and literary criticism, all tied together by Barnes' idiosyncratic rapier wit and delightful turn of phrase. The basic premise is that the protagonist is in the process of creating an account of the life and work of the author he so admires, but along the way the reader experiences the pleasure of Barnes' musings on the contemporary literary scene, solitude, genius, and the value of the personal in art. It is a stunningly original book and a real turn-on for anyone with a literary bent. Note: this was actually the March 2018 meeting of Baltasaarin kirjakerho re-scheduled (from 10 March 2018).

Saturday 16 June 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

At this edition of Bedah Buku Ubud, the book was the critically acclaimed 2012 novel by Laksmi Pamuntjak, Amba. It is a modern re-imagining of the love story between Amba and Bhisma from the Hindu epic, The Mahabharata, set during the political turmoil in Indonesia in the mid-1960s.

Saturday 9 June 2018, 11 am to 12.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

Our Finnish book club took a decidedly academic twist this June, as the book chosen was Elämä: Tutkimus José Ortega y Gassetin filosofiasta. It is the book version of the PhD thesis in theoretical philosophy by the Finnish academic Pekka Lempiäinen. José Ortega y Gasset was a Spanish philosopher and intellectual who lived from 1883 to 1955. The writer looks how the philosopher's thoughts changed over time and the implications of his conclusions. The work has a wide scope and includes, among other things, discussions about history, art, technology, religion, and morality. Thus the title, Elämä (Life).

Saturday 26 May 2018, 1 to 2.30 pm

Ubud Book Club – monthly since February 2017

Admission: Free

At this month's edition of our original English language book club, the book was A Maggot by John Fowles. Published in 1986, it is a novel set in the rural England of the 1830s and begins with the arrival of a strange travelling party at the inn of a small town. Some time after arriving, one of the group disappears, one is found dead, and the rest have fled the scene. The remainder of book is a slow unpeeling, layer-by-layer, from each character's point of view, with many false leads and unexpected twists along the way before the final denouement. What makes the writing remarkable is the many different kinds of narrative devices used, which include third person narration, first person (in letter form), interrogation in a question and answer format, historical newspaper bulletin, and the voice of a modern person looking back at the events as a historical event. Notable also for the historical detail and the attempt to re-create the language used in the day, Fowles has created an ambitious work that exudes literary awareness and constituted a fine choice for the book club.

Saturday 19 May 2018, 1 to 2.30 pm

Bedah Buku Ubud – monthly book club in Bahasa Indonesia

Admission: Free

The book for this meeting was Dari Ngalian Ke Sendowo by Nh. Dini. It is part of her memoir series, and covers the early 2000s. It is an intimate (self-)portrait of the Indonesian literary great, with memorable passages about her domestic life, such as the difficulty of finding a suitable maid and the financial constraints placed upon one who lives off writing in a country that does not read, travels to Thailand and Japan, and the politics behind literature awards (she first spurns the South-East Asia Writers' Award for Indonesia on grounds of principle but is some years later persuaded to accept). The work is a fascinating glimpse into the daily workings of a woman who, even in her seventies, still writes daily and inspires with her strength and good humour. Nh. Dini won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2017 (Ubud Book Club was grateful to be present at the handing over of the award and a later event in which she spoke about her life's work).

Saturday 12 May 2018, 1 to 2.30 pm

Baltasaarin kirjakerho – monthly book club in Finnish

Admission: Free

The book chosen for this month's meeting was Ihon Aika by Anja Kauranen. It is a tale of a woman seeing to her mother in the very latest stages of her life, in an old people's home. Through objects found in her mother's room, to which she had never had access to before, a whole new past is revealed: one in which she has two sisters instead of one, in which her mother had (at least) two lovers instead of one, and the significance of the East is seen in a different light. Kauranen writes in short bursts of bright metaphors, long lists, and a kind of stream of consciousness narration in which the past and the present often change places, old things come back repeatedly but not always looking the same, and what happens is memory as opposed to plot. She writes about a parent's sexuality, mental illness, and bodily functions with the forthrightness of a Finn but her strikingly original style, idiosyncratic vocabulary, and ability to condense worlds into few words place her in the attentions of national and international reviewers alike.