Hirata, Andrea

Andrea Hirata [1] is an Indonesian author best known for the 2005 novel Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops) and its sequels.

Hirata was born in Gantung, Belitung[2] on 24 October; he has not made his year of birth public.[3] While he was young, his parents changed his name seven times.[4] They eventually settled on the name Andrea, while the name Hirata was given by his mother.[4] He grew up in a poor family not far from a government-owned mine.[3]

Hirata started his tertiary education with a degree in economics from the University of Indonesia.[3] After receiving a scholarship from the European Union, he did his master’s degree in Europe, first at the University of Paris then at Sheffield Hallam University in Britain;[3] his thesis dealt with telecommunications and the economy.[5]

Hirata released Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops) in 2005.[6] The novel, written in a period of six months, was based on his childhood experiences in Belitung;[3] he later described it as “an irony about a lack of access to education for children in one of the world’s wealthiest islands.”.[7] The novel went on to sell five million copies, with pirated editions selling 15 million more.[4] It also spawned three sequels: Sang Pemimpi (The Dreamer), Edensor and Maryamah Karpov.[3]

Laskar Pelangi was adapted into a film of the same name in 2008 by directors Riri Riza and Mira Lesmana;[7] the film became the most-viewed Indonesian film of all time, being seen by 4.6 million viewers during its theatrical run.[8] He also worked at the telecommunications company Telkom Indonesia, eventually quitting to focus on writing.[5][9] In 2010 the international rights for the Laskar Pelangi tetralogy were bought by American agent Amer & Asia;[6] the rights were later acquired by Kathleen Anderson Literary Management.[9] Afterwards, Hirata opened a library in his hometown.[2]

By 2010, he was spending weekends in Belitung and weekdays in Java.[2] He later published his first English-language short story, “Dry Season”, in Washington Square Review.[9] That same year, he spent three months attending a writer’s workshop at the University of Iowa.[4][10]

In 2011, television network SCTV announced a 15-episode serial adaption of Laskar Pelangi; Hirata had previously said he would not allow such an adaptation, but later relented as he felt the network could guarantee quality.[9] By 2012 the English translation of his novel Laskar Pelangi had been picked up by FSG, Penguin Books, and Random House for sale in twenty countries; Hirata was the first Indonesian writer to be published with FSG.[8][11] That year he was a speaker at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.[11]

Info via Wikipedia. Image via JulianArbi2.