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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Putting words into conscience

“I don't write to give joy to readers but to give them a conscience.” – Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Born on this date in 1925, Toer was an Indonesian author of novels, short stories, essays, polemics and histories of his homeland and its people. His works span the colonial period, Indonesia's struggle for independence, its occupation by Japan during WWII and the post-colonial authoritarian regimes of Sukarno and Suharto.  He died in 2006.

Imprisoned several times, including a 10-year period, for his writings on behalf of human rights and freedom of expression, he became a cause célèbre for advocates of social justice around the globe. 

Best known for his four novels called the Buru Quartet – This Earth of Mankind; Child of All Nations; Footsteps; and House of Glass – he was honored around the globe for his writings, including major awards from France, the United States, and Norway, the latter for his contribution to world literature and his continuous struggle for the right to freedom of expression.  Toer died in 2006 but his writings continue to be taught and used as inspiration for human rights efforts worldwide.
                          “Even though no one admits it,” Toer said at the time of his Norwegian honor,  “writers are leaders in their communities.”

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