Ben Sohib

Residency Destination: Destination: Belanda/ Amsterdam Duration of residency: 15 July - 15 Oktober (3 months) Domicile: Jakarta [email protected]  


Ben Sohib born 1967 in Jember, East Java had attended journalism classes, but spent most of his time as a vocalist in a progressive rock band at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. At present, besides writing, he also works as editor for Ufuk Press.

Ben became popular among Indonesian readers as a result of his two-part satire “The Da Peci Code” published in 2006 and another best-selling novel “Rosid and Delia” in 2008. Filled with refreshing humor against a backdrop of life among descendants of “Betawi-Arabs”, Indonesians with Arab forefathers who had settled in Jakarta. The two novels became a campaign for multiculturalism in modern Indonesian life. They were both subsequently adapted for the movie screen, titled “Tiga Hati, Dua Dunia, dan Satu Cinta” [Three Hearts, Two Worlds, and One Love] the film won an array of awards at the 2010 Indonesian Film Festival, including Best Film.

Since then, Ben has mostly been writing short stories. Still using the backdrop of the urban life of Muslims, particularly in Jakarta, he has launched fierce criticism against symptoms of religious radicalism that have become increasingly worrisome in Indonesia over the past several years. He also admonishes people who lightly use religious arguments to find justification for what they do. Ben’s criticism is always delivered in a joking way, so that he deserves to be called one of Indonesia’s top writers in the “dark humor” vein. The Betawi dialect that he uses for his characters’ dialogue makes the stories even more lively. His latest works are an important contribution to the treasure house of modern Indonesian literature.