Parfum, Jazz and The Incident

On November 12, 1991, the Indonesian military opened fire on East Timorese protestors in Dili, the capital of East Timor. Hundreds of people were killed and accounts of this massacre sparked international outrage. In Jakarta a cover-up began immediately: the Suharto government declared the killings an “accident” provoked by armed provocateurs. The Indonesian mass media was cautioned to tow the official line. Seno Gumira Ajidarma, editor of Jakarta Jakarta at the time, refused to do so and was released from his position. Unable to let his fellow Indonesians know about the facts of this “incident,” Seno transformed documentary evidence into semi-fictional form and published it as novel. This novel is a triptych made up of three series of panels, the first two of which should be easily recognizable to most readers: “Jazz” is a tableau that looks at the development of jazz; while “Perfume” is a mural of life in metropolitan Jakarta; and “the Incident” is a collage of documents on an event in Indonesian history euphemistically referred to by the same name.    


Seno Gumira Ajidarma


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