Indonesian writer and journalist Okky Puspa Madasari was born in Magetan in 1984 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Gadjah Mada University in 2005. From 2012 to 2014, she completed her master’s in sociology with a graduating thesis titled »Genealogy of the Indonesian Novel – Capitalism, Islam and Critical Literature«.
Madasari’s works explore past and present political events and social conditions in Indonesia: »Although the totalitarian regime is no longer in power and the country is now a democracy, I want to show that Indonesia still faces many hurdles, including injustice, corruption, discrimination, violence and poverty.« Her first novel »Entrok« (2010; Eng. »The Years of the Voiceless«, 2013) is an epic tale of life during the totalitarianism and militarism of the New Order Era (»Orde Baru«) under President Suharto. In 2011, she published »86«, her second novel focussing on the corruption prevalent throughout the country and especially in the civil service. »Maryam« (2012), examines the expulsion of the Ahmadiyya community from their homeland and made Madasari – at age 28 – the youngest-ever recipient of the Khatulistiwa Literary Award, Indonesia’s most important literary prize. Her next novel »Pasung Jiwa« (2013; Eng. »Bound«, 2014) is the epic story of two friends told in a writing style that is unpretentious, direct and almost journalistic. Set in the 1990s, the novel follows the lives of two students who leave their universities and become street musicians. At one of their performances the two men draw attention to the recent disappearance of a factory worker, at which point they are both promptly arrested. While in prison, they experience torture and humiliation, and the younger of the two, the transgender, is repeatedly raped. Tthey are released from prison completely traumatized; the younger is sent to a psychiatric unit while the older of the two has to earn his living as a factory worker. In 1998, when in mid of a severe economic crisis the Suharto era ends in political upheaval the older of the two joins an Islamist group of »holy warriors« who use violence as a tool to maintain order according to their understanding. During one of the group’s raids, the two friends meet in a concert of the meanwhile famous singer Sasa whereupon the older friend is transported back to an earlier time and slowly wakes from his islamist misconception. In this novel, Madasari displays her skill as a sober observer of growing extremist positions in her country. At the urging of her Indonesian publisher, Madasari gave in to publishing an edited version of the book. Her fifth novel »Kerumunan Terakhir« (2016) spotlights the influence of digitization and social networks on people’s lives.
Madasari is a co-founder of the ASEAN Literary Festival in Jakarta, where she lives today.