Norman Erikson Pasaribu and Tiffany Tsao images
Norman Erikson Pasaribu and Tiffany Tsao
on Almosts, Discontinued Futures, and the Misconception about “Magical Realism”

Published on Jul 24, 2022

Special Holiday Episode! Coinciding with the release of “Happy Stories, Mostly”, we talk to Norman Erikson Pasaribu and Tiffany Tsao about their work as translators of each others work and as individual writers themselves. Between Sydney, Bekasi, Bogor and New York, we discuss cultural untranslatability, creating new languages, building new memories through language, and why it’s difficult for readers to appreciate Indonesian literature. Plus, K-Dramas, fanfics, sinetron, past-less and futureless characters, and whether Dia, Ia, and Nya will be extinct in the future. Whether it’s turkey, sate, noodles, nastar, or roll cake, may this Two-Hour Holiday Special accompany your holiday cooking, prep and feast!

Norman Erikson Pasaribu is a writer, translator, and editor. His first short story collection Hanya Kamu yang Tahu Berapa Lama Lagi Aku Harus Menunggu (Only You Know How Much Longer I Should Wait) was shortlisted for the 2014 Khatulistiwa Literary Award for Prose. His debut poetry collection Sergius Mencari Bacchus (Sergius Seeks Bacchus) won the 2015 Jakarta Arts Council Poetry Competition, was shortlisted for the 2016 Khatulistiwa Literary Award for Poetry, and was one of the best poetry collections of that year by Tempo Magazine. He was also awarded the Young Author Award from the Southeast Asia Literary Council and was chosen as Writer in Residence in Vietnam by the Indonesian National Book Committee and Ministry of Education and Culture. He draws on his experiences queer writer of Batak descent and Christian background. In his work, he plays with alternative gospel, speculative fiction, loneliness, and happiness…mostly.

Tiffany Tsao is a writer and literary translator. She is the author of The Oddfits trilogy and The Majesties (originally published in Australia as Under Your Wings). Her translations from Indonesian to English include Dee Lestari’s novel Paper Boats, Laksmi Pamuntjak’s The Birdwoman’s Palate, and Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s poetry collections Sergius Seeks Bacchus and Happy Stories Mostly. Her translations of Norman’s poetry have won the English PEN Presents and English PEN Translates awards. Born in the United States and of Chinese-Indonesian descent, she spent her formative years in Singapore (8 years) and Indonesia (6 years). She has a B.A. in English literature from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in English literature from UC-Berkeley. She now lives in Sydney, Australia with her spouse and two children.