27th March 2019
Indonesia take centre stage in the UK for The London Book Fair Market Focus Programme March 2019

In March 2019, Indonesia presented its own diverse cultural and creative heritage to audiences across the UK, with an absorbing programme of literature, food, fashion and music. This year marks the anniversary of seventy years of diplomatic relations between the UK and Indonesia and presented the ideal moment to celebrate an exchange of culture between the two countries.

The activity was inspired by Indonesia’s role as Market Focus country at The London Book Fair 2019 (LBF). In partnership with the British Council, LBF and the Publisher’s Association, Indonesia’s National Organising Committee created a dynamic programme of events that were rooted in literature. The Indonesian delegation included include publishers, cultural and creative professionals, and a number of leading and emerging authors who were presented to a UK audience.

At the core of the Market Focus programme was the presentation of twelve of Indonesia’s leading and emerging authors, who took part in a series of panel discussions and one-on-one interviews both inside Olympia and throughout the UK at partner venues. These contemporary writers, from poets and travel writers to the best of new fiction and children’s literature, explored topics that were familiar to readers across the globe, but with a uniquely Indonesian context. Their writing, while not definitive of Indonesia’s literary scene, offered the chance for UK readers to get a taste of what  is on offer, and to sample a range of literary voices from across the archipelago.

During LBF a number of deals were closed between Indonesian and international publishers, including a series of six titles which were sold from Asta Ilmu Publishing to Singapore Asia Publishers. The distribution of several English Language editions of Indonesian titles was agreed in the US, Italy, India and Australia, and a global distribution deal was agreed from AMIKOM films to Amazon UK for the famous film Battle of Surabaya.

Indonesia’s presence at The London Book Fair included panel events, author interviews, discussions and the opportunity for international participants to foster trade with professionals from across the Indonesian publishing sector. Outside of Kensington Olympia audiences found a wealth of activity related to Indonesian writing with additional events held at The British Library, The London Review Bookshop, SOAS, and the National Poetry Library.

The flagship Foyles on Charing Cross Road hosted a month of activity on their 4th floor, with a large showcase of Indonesian literature and bespoke events.

Indonesia’s second stand at LBF, the aptly named Spice Cafe, offered the chance for visitors to sample delicious food and drink from across the Indonesian archipelago.  The Indonesian delegation hosted a number of culinary celebrations throughout the Fair, including the presentation of the ceremonial Rice Mountain, the I Love Kopi tasting of richly flavoured Indonesian coffee, Soto for the Soul presenting traditional soups, Some Like It Hot, a chance to prepare and taste the fiery sambals (chili sauce), and an ‘Indonesian Happy Hour’.

Using The London Book Fair programmes as a springboard, Indonesia presented an additional range of creative content throughout the month, with an exciting roster of cultural events in London and beyond, driven by the increasing expansion of Indonesia’s creative industry and economy. Activities included exhibitions of graphic design and illustration, movie screenings, fashion shows, music and performance and the chance to sample some of Indonesia’s many culinary exports, from tea and coffee to herbs and spices.

Image Credit: Mural Painting @ Spice Cafe.Courtesy of Indonesia’s National Organising Committee.