The Question of Red

You can now purchase the US version of Laksmi Pamuntjak's national bestselling and acclaimed first novel, "The Question of Red," (official American release: 12 JULY), through at


This is the newly-revised US version of the English translation of Laksmi Pamuntjak's debut novel Amba. Winner of this year's Liberaturpreis in Germany, this novel combines myth, culture and politics in a beguiling tale of profound love, set against the background of the Indonesian genocide of 1965. Last year, it was #1 on Germany's prestigious Weltempfaenger (Receivers of the World) list of the best works of fiction translated into German. It also appeared in De Bild's and ORF Kultur's Top 10 Novels lists, as well as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung's list of Best Books of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2015.

Praise for "The Question of Red":

  • A huge bestseller on its publication in Indonesia, The Question of Red signalled Laksmi Pamuntjak's bravery and scope as a writer, and may yet prove to be a landmark work of South East Asian writing.

    - Tash Aw, author of Harmony Silk Factory, Map of the Invisible World, and Five Star Billionaire

  • With this novel Laksmi Pamuntjak firmly establishes herself as one of the most eloquent writers of Indonesian history, intertwining scenes of great tension and reckless passion with sections of great historical interest …

    - Saskia Wieringa, author of Lubang Buaya, writing in the Jakarta Globe

  • … perfectly captures the dizzying unsteadiness of a traumatized world poised between normalcy and catastrophe.

    - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in its Top 8 Books of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2015 section

  • The novel combines poetic language and the conviction of literature as an instrument of enlightenment without once sacrificing its aesthetics.

    - Neue Zuercher Zeitung

  • The most important Indonesian novel of this winter.

    - Cornelia Zetzsche, Weltempfaenger 2015 jury member

  • … there is no black or white, good or evil … Shades are important to Pamuntjak, the gray areas in human behavior, as she confirmed in the many instances of dignity and forgiveness among the oppressed and the oppressor in the penal colony …

    - Sueddeutsche Zeitung

  • This is a richly textured, multilayered novel; an intricate weave of erased histories, living memories and formative myths of war and peace ... With passion and exemplary commitment, Pamuntjak brings to life a forgotten era of turbulence, with its casualties, its victims, and its perpetrators. I was immersed in the novel’s world for a week, and when I emerged I was spellbound for days.

    - Aamer Hussein, author of Cloud Messenger and Another Gulmohar Tree, writing in the Friday Times (Pakistan)

  • Laksmi Pamunjak's luminous imagination has brought us a seminal work of Southeast Asian literature. The Question of Red explores with urgent context and brilliant writing one of the world's least known but most brutal political mass murders of the twentieth century. This profound meditation on memory and forgetting deserves a worldwide audience.

    - Margaret Scott Rauch, Indonesia Scholar, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Administration, NYU

  • This heart wrenching novel is much more than a long overdue look at Indonesia’s genocidal past. It is a poetic reflection on the traumas that divide a society and the emotional as well as political complexities in addressing and thus healing them.

    - Ilija Trojanow

  • One of Asia's greatest modern love stories! It is never easy to combine personal tragedy and love with a political holocaust, but Pamuntjak writes with such enormous confidence, emotional maturity and beauty that she has no problem merging the two. This novel, translated by herself into English, unquestionably places Indonesian fiction on the map of the 21st century and Pamuntjak as one of its principle writers.

    - Ahmed Rashid

  • Great literature lights our way and helps us to understand distant worlds; the best books make us part of those worlds - with all their horror, as well as their resplendence and intelligence. That's the kind of literature that Laksmi Pamuntjak writes.

    - Jose Eduardo Agualusa

… an absolute must-read … it holds so many important lessons about Indonesia.

- Die Zeit

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