17,000 Islands of Imagination

It began with imagination: the Indonesian people and the country now called “Indonesia”—a region with a multitude of ethnic-groups, each with its own history—emerged from imagination when, in the early 20th century, the peoples of this country agreed to forge a new and unified union. Indonesia was born from indigenous imagination, not from outside force or external concepts.

A prominent scholar once described Indonesia as an “imagined community”. But imagination is not fantasy. Imagination has a power of its own and is source of creative energy that has shaped and will continue to shape this country’s future.

This year is a special one for Indonesia. Not only does the country celebrate its 70th anniversary of independence in August; in October Indonesia will make its debut as “Guest of Honour” at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Indonesia’s slogan for the Fair— “17,000 Islands of Imagination”—symbolizes the intellectual and artistic richness of this incredibly diverse and multi-religious nation.

The story behind “17,000 Islands of Imagination” began in 2013 when the Indonesian government signed a memorandum of understanding with the organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair to become guest of honour country in 2015. Thereafter, the government put together a national organizing committee made up of writers, artists, and members of the Association of Indonesian Publishers (IKAPI). Thus was produced, in the organizing committee, a real synergy between the government and the people.

Through the Frankfurt Book Fair, Indonesia aims to demonstrate its imagination and to tell its stories through works of literature as a part of its dialogue with the greater global community.