▣ Colonial and Post-Colonial Connections in Dutch Literature.

posted by admin on October 5th, 2011 at 4:02 PM

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Last month I attended The 2011 UC Berkeley Conference in Dutch Literature.  For me, the highlight of the almost three-day conference was Friday, September 16, 2011, which was dedicated to Indonesia. It did not surprise me Indonesia was given center stage. After all, it had been the greatest asset of the Dutch crown.



Between the opening address of the conference by Jeroen Dewulf and the engaging presentation of keynote speaker Adriaan van Dis, Sqeezed between Rice and Potatoe: Personal Reflections of a Dutch (Post) Colonial Youth, the ten lectures of that day covered a wide range of topics and took the audience through history.


Wilma Scheffers paid tribute to the Dutch politician and author Wolter Robert van Hoëvell known as one of the forerunners  of political reforms during the colonial rule. Her presentation was contrasted by an animated rendition by historian Rudolf Mrazek regarding the internment camp Boven Digoel in Irian Barat, then New Guinea.

We moved into the present through the writings of Tjalie Robinson, Maria Dermoût, and Marion Bloem, through insightful discussions by respectively Jeroen Dewulff, Olf Praamstra and Pamela Pattynama.

Ingrid Dümpel pointed out the emerging of authentic Indo Eurepean youth literature.


While the information and insights gleaned from the lectures and conversations with the presenters were far more than I would ever be able to extract from Google, I was left at the end of the day with the thought, And what about the Chinese? We too were affected by colonialism. We too were displaced and for many of us “home” is still a memory.


The conference also offered ample opportunity to network. Several presenters showed a keen interest in Only A Girl. 

I was interviewed by Inge Dümpel – editor of the publication www.indischhistorisch.nl


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▣ Only A Girl has a new publisher.

posted by admin on July 19th, 2011 at 12:12 PM

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As of August 1, 2011 Only A Girl will be published by Dalang Publishing  and distributed by Ingram. The title will also be carried by Barnes & Noble and Amazon. The new ISBN number is 978-0-9836273-7-1.

While the content has remained the same, there is a marked improvement in the rendition of the cover art as well as the overall physical quality of the book. And, to top all of this, the list price has come down from $27.95 to $17.95!

In Indonesia, PT. Gramedia Pustaka Utama will remain the publisher for Menantang Phoenix, the Indonesian translation.

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▣ Only A Girl goes to UC Berkeley.

posted by admin on March 22nd, 2011 at 10:04 AM

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The UC Berkeley Library recently purchased copies of Only A Girl and Menantang Phoenix, the Indonesian translation, for their South East Asian collection. I like to thank Virginia Shih and Gail Ford for their support.

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▣ SF Bay Area launch of Indonesian translation.

posted by admin on January 21st, 2011 at 2:40 PM

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On November 29, 2010, Menantang Phoenix, the Indonesian translation of Only A Girl, was launched in the SF Bay Area with an author event in the lobby of the Indonesian Consulate in San Francisco.  I am deeply grateful to the Consul for Information and Social Cultural Affairs, TB. Edwin Suchranudin, for organizing this function. The presence of The Honorable Asianto Sinambela and Mrs Agustina Sinambela added a lot of luster to the evening.

Having recently returned from the Indonesian launch of Menantang Phoenix, I was able to share that exhilarating experience with an attentive audience. The image of the disturbed woman wearing heavy makeup accompanied by the phoenix/dragon-like animal on the cover of Menantang Phoenix sparked as lively a discussion as it did back home in Indonesia. Questions regarding the inspiration for the book as well as the authenticity of characters and setting made the time pass quickly. 

The wonderful evening ended with Mr. Sinambela’s gracious acceptance of a copy of Only A Girl and Menantang Phoenix for the Consulate’s library.

Menantang Phoenix is available in the USA from the Buy Book – Toko – page on the Indonesian side of this website.

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▣ Only A Girl’s Homecoming.

posted by admin on December 17th, 2010 at 5:27 AM

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A bit of Indonesia

In October 2010, Menantang Phoenix, the Indonesian translation of Only A Girl was launched in Indonesia during a successful four-city book tour. Before going further I like first to thank my niece and nephew, Oeke and Nono Sutiknya and my Gramedia editor, Dwi Helly Purnomo, for all their help in making this event possible as well as for their support during the entire month I traveled in Indonesia. I am also grateful to the Gramedia staff members who chaperoned me with care while I visited their respective city.

Eve Magazine Book Club
A hectic drive from the Jakarta airport through the city took me straight to my first event of the tour, an author event at the Eve Magazine Book Club. The warm welcome the gracious group received me with, nullified the whipping rain storm which drenched the streets. I felt instantly nurtured by the interest in my work, the insightful comments and thought provoking questions brought to the floor by several ladies in the audience. As the evening proceeded I became aware of a kinship between us. I realized that Only A Girl had come home, as it was from amongst the midst of women like these, that the characters sprung and the story had spun itself. The magical evening set the tone for the rest of the tour.
Gramedia Book Store - IKAPI Book Fair
It was encouraging to notice the interest today’s Indonesia shows in literature. When I left in the mid-sixties, the majority of the population did not read at all, let alone for pleasure. The busy cash registers at the Gramedia book stores that hosted my author events and the crowded attendance at the book fairs I attended in Jakarta and Jogyakarta, easily proved the opposite. The same was evident by the number of listeners to the radio talk shows who called in their questions and comments.
C20 Library
The peaking interest in literature became again apparent during my author event at the C2O library in Surabaya. This privately run library serves as a nucleus for readers of all walks of life to gather for lively discussions of books and film. From month to month, Kathleen Azali, the young, energetic librarian makes sure that the library has an engaging program to offer. No wonder the library is highly regarded in Surabaya’s literary circles.
With Soe Tjen Marching and Remy Sylado
Well known Indonesian authors Remy Sylado (Namaku Matahari is his latest novel) and Soe Tjen Marching, Ph.D (Mati Bertahun yang Lalu is her latest novel) honored me with a public discussion of Menantang Phoenix respectively at the GKI author event in Bandung and C2O Library author event in Surabaya.
However, the events I value the most are the two open lectures I was invited to give at the Sanata Dharma University in Jogya and the Petra University in Surabaya.  It was a pleasure and a privilege to address tomorrow’s literati, to listen to their dreams and concerns, and share mine.
Sanata Dharma University
From the Eve Magazine Book Club event in Jakarta, to the open lecture at the Petra University in Surabaya, the book tour was nothing but a success which resulted in a total of 1539 sold copies of Menantang Phoenix at the close of the first month’s sales. However, herein does not lay the biggest reward. That I find in knowing that Only A Girl has truly gone home and is welcome there. As for me, after having been away for 45 years, it was good to find home.


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▣ Only A Girl on library shelves.

posted by admin on July 2nd, 2010 at 8:22 AM

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The Foster City, Millbrae and San Carlos libraries recently purchased a copy of Only A Girl. They are currently in the process of entering the title into their systems and expect to have the book on their shelves by July 1, 2010. 

The Foster City Library hosted the first library reading from Only A Girl on Saturday, June 19, 2010.

At the end of a well attended reading a gentleman in the audience rose and asked if he could come up to give me something. To my huge surprise he presented me with a Certificate of Recognition from the Ca. State Senate.

The Ca. State Senate honors and recognizes Lian Gouw on the occasion of her visit to the Foster City Library. We commend her dedication to crafting stories for all to enjoy and applaud her exemplary service to our community. We further wish her continued success in all her future endeavors.
Signed by Senator Leland Y. Yee, Ph.D.

I would appreciate it if you would introduce Only A Girl to your library.


Please note that the best place to buy a copy of Only A Girl is at the Buy Book page on this website. 

Best price and immediate shipping.



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▣ Back to Readers' Questions

posted by admin on May 17th, 2010 at 5:51 AM

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 “How much of the story is real?” 
Fiction versus non-fiction

Only A Girl has been classified as multi cultural historical women’s fiction since it addresses the dilemmas of Western and Eastern values; the World Depression, WWII, and the Indonesian Revolution serve as backdrops for the narrative, while the story chronicles the intricate relationships between women in a family of three generations.
Having said this, all historical events mentioned in the book actually happened. E.g. people did lose their jobs during the Depression years; the Japanese did occupy the Netherlands’ East Indies during WWII and they did intern anyone with more than 50% Dutch blood. The fire that revolutionaries set and burned half of Bandung to the ground on p.125 of Only A Girl did happen.
Are my characters anyone I knew? As a writer, I have acquired the habit of observing people and situations. I make a mental note every time someone or a situation catches my attention. During the course of writing, these individuals and situations may pop up and thus populate the story and shape the landscape. Often, a character is a composite of several individuals who have crossed my path; while a scene is often created by merging different situations.
As the story begins to set, characters will take on their own lives and drop into scenes which develop around them. At this time, all I do, is record my characters’ journey through a time and place of their choice. Only after the story is completed and I have turned it over to my editor, do I take back the controls.

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▣ Only a Girl is going home

posted by admin on April 19th, 2010 at 9:45 AM

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I am delighted to announce that GRAMEDIA PUSTAKA UTAMA, the largest publisher, distributor and bookseller in Indonesia, www.gramedia.com,  has purchased the Indonesian translation and publication rights to Only A Girl

Gramedia Pustaka Utama is responsible, annually, for the publication of 380 new fiction titles, 400 nonfiction titles, and 320 how-to books. It is gratifying that such a prestigious house has selected my novel for translation and publication. 
After being away for more than four decades, Only A Girl will be going home to the community and place from which she was conceived. I am grateful to Gramedia Pustaka Utama for providing the opportunity.
The launch of the Indonesian translation of Only A Girl is scheduled for September 2010.  Please check back here for updates. 

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▣ How long did it take you? Revision Process.

posted by admin on March 30th, 2010 at 11:10 AM

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Continuing with “How long did it take you?” I’d like to share the writing and revision process with you. Please feel free to comment and/or ask additional questions.

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▣ Readers Questions.

posted by admin on February 23rd, 2010 at 3:50 PM

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Starting with “What made you write the book?” I’ll post my response to the most frequently asked questions at author’s events here. Please feel free to comment and/or ask additional questions.

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▣ Good Reads

posted by admin on November 29th, 2009 at 12:37 PM

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The recurring question at the various November book club discussions was which books I thought were similar to Only A Girl.


The two contemporary titles that immediately came to mind were, When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe and My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney Lin.

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▣ Nanna's Food

posted by admin on October 16th, 2009 at 3:17 PM

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The soup I thought of when I wrote about Nanna feeding the POWs (p.112) is one I often make when there’s someone sick in my family. It is my daughter’s favorite.

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▣ Copies available in bookstore

posted by admin on September 17th, 2009 at 2:10 PM

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▣ Nanna's Food

posted by admin on September 17th, 2009 at 2:00 PM

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As a book club facilitator recently called for menu suggestions for the club's dinner discussion of Only a Girl, I though it would be fun to post some recipes of food dished up through the book.

Here's the recipe for Nanna's pork stew on page 10.


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▣ Food in Only a Girl

posted by admin on July 15th, 2009 at 8:25 AM

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more recipes coming....

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▣ The Legend of Tangkuban Perahu

posted by admin on June 19th, 2009 at 3:20 PM

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A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who responded to my Advance Notice not only with a book purchase, but also with a read and feedback. I truly appreciate your support.


I intend to place a monthly post re book related topics in the order they appear in the book. 

Therefore, I am starting of with the legend of Mount Tangkuban Perahu. The volcano’s outline is a prominent fixture in Bandung’s northern skyline and was used for Only A Girl’s cover.


I welcome your questions and comments not only re the post but about the book as well.



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posted by admin on May 11th, 2009 at 4:33 PM

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