Contemporary Indonesian Literature: In Conversation with Dias Novita Wuri

Contemporary Indonesian Literature: In Conversation with Dias Novita Wuri

On Thursday 2nd of November evening, Dr Ken Setiawan from the Indonesian Studies Program was joined by our members and Indonesian Postgraduate students, in conversation with author Dias Novita Wuri to discuss her novella Jalan Lahir, or translated into English as Birth Canal.

Birth Canal tells the interwoven stories of women across time and space in a male-dominated world: in today’s Jakarta, Nastiti vanishes – an unnamed male friend tells the story of what happened to her. During World War II, a young Indo-Dutch girl Rukmini, is captured in Semarang by the Japanese military and forced into prostitution, while many years later her daughter Arini travels to the Netherlands to share her mother’s past with a researcher. The book then moves to Japan where, after the American occupation of Japan ends, a former war photographer shares his memories of Hanako, the wife of a traumatised ex-Imperial soldier, while in present-day Osaka, Dara, a young Indonesian woman is haunted by her past and struggles to conceive. These women’s personal stories are not only connected to one another but also to their distinct historical and political contexts – underlining how personal stories are tied to spoken and unspoken national histories, as well how the past reverberates into the present.

The author was available to sign copies of her sold out book that night.

Author bio:

Dias Novita Wuri was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1989. She graduated from Universitas Indonesia, majoring in Russian Language and Literature. In 2019, she earned a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from Queen Mary University of London. She has had short stories published in Indonesian newspapers since 2012. She has published two books, Jalan Lahir and Makramé, which was on the Khatulistiwa Literary Award longlist. She served as adviser in the literary section of the editorial board of


Critical acclaim for Birth Canal:

‘The ground beneath the reader is constantly shifting … Birth Canal jumps in time and moves between places of security and insecurity, hiding and transit, literal and metaphorical light and dark … In the end, this extraordinarily accomplished and profound novel, translated from Indonesian by the author, is about how difficult love can be, and how precious.’


‘Indonesian author Dias Novita Wuri is a rising literary star. Her novella Birth Canal writhes with talent compressed into a forceful and beguiling suite of interconnected stories … Wuri’s gift for metaphor is matched by a supple and sidewinding narrative construction that follows women across time and place.’


Birth Canal was written with a dripping golden pen. Captivating and devastating, the stories of these women are told with truth and love.’