Lestari, Dewi

Dee was born in Bandung, West Java on 20 January 1976;[1] she was the fourth of five children born to a religious Christian family.[1][2] Raised to be active in music, she took up singing, later providing backing vocals for singers such as Chrisye.[2] After graduating high school, she attended Parahyangan Catholic University and graduated with a degree in international relations.[1] In 1993, she formed the girl group RSD (Rida Sita Dewi) with her friends Rida Farida and Sita Nursanti; together they released three albums and agreatest hits album on Warna Musik and Sony Music.[2]

In 2001, Dee released her first novel, Kesatria, Putri dan Bintang Jatuh (The Knight, The Princess, and the Falling Star). Part of the Supernova series,[1] it was well received and spawned two sequels, Supernova: Akar (Supernova: Roots) and Petir (Thunder).[1] Two of these were nominated for the Khatulistiwa Award, as was one of its sequels in 2003.[2]

In March 2006, Dee release Filosofi Kopi: Kumpulan Cerita and Prosa Satu Dekade (Coffee Philosophy: A Decade Worth of Stories and Prose).[1] The collection of short stories and prose dealt with themes of love and spirituality and was described by literary critic and poet Goenawan Mohamad as being “Uncomplicated, in fact quite brilliant…” Mohamad went on to suggest that it would revive “wit” in Indonesian literature.[1] At the same time, she released her first solo album, Out of Shell; the album had been in development since 1994.[1]

Two years later, Dee released Rectoverso, a “hybrid” of an album and a short story collection.[3] The project started in 2006 when she wrote the song “Hanya Isyarat” (“Only a Sign”) and, unsatisfied, wrote a short story with the “same theme and inspiration”; from this seemingly different but “actually one and complementary” arrangement, she derived the title.[3] One of the songs, “Malaikat Juga Tahu” (“Angels Also Know”), was released as a single to warm reception.[4] That year also saw her novel Perahu Kertas (Paper Boats) published.[5]

In 2011 Dee released another collection, Madre (Mother), which was inspired by her hobby of cooking; madre is also a kind of yeast used in cooking.[2]The following year she released the fourth installment in her Supernova series, Partikel. During the writing process she researched various themes, including shamanism, ethnobotany, entheogen, crop circles and extraterrestrials. In an interview with The Jakarta Post, she said that in writing the book she had voice her “concerns about the environment, such as the destructive course we are taking and the future of humanity on this planet”.[5]

The first film adaptations of one of Dee’s novels, Perahu Kertas 1 and Perahu Kertas 2 (both from her novel Perahu Kertas) were released in 2012. The romance films starred Maudy Ayunda and Adipati Dolken. Although originally envisioned as a single work (originally five hours long), director Hanung Bramantyo and the production crew split the two, hoping to keep the mystery of whether or not the protagonists would unite.[6] Dee worked closely with Bramantyo and his wife Zaskia Adya Mecca during the filmmaking process, helping with the casting and writing the screenplay.[5]

The second adaptation of her works, Madre, was released in 2013. As the source work was a short story collection, the film, directed by Benni Setiawan and starring Didi Petet, Vino G. Bastian, and Laura Basuki, was expanded to add more content.[7] In an interview, Dee stated that, though the film worked as a romantic comedy, she found it had undergone “fairly crucial changes” (“perubahan cukup krusial”) during the adaptation process, leading her to feel something was lacking.[8] Film critic JB Kristanto was more vocal: he wrote that the melodramatic adaptation was a “soap opera brought to the big screen” (“sinetron versi layar lebar”).[9]

As of 2012 Plans are underway for film adaptions of Rectoverso and Filosofi Kopi, as well as a fifth instalment of Supernova.[5]


Image via Neal Harrison, Info via Wikipedia.