Book Launch: She Wanted to be a Beauty Queen

She Wanted to be a Beauty Queen is the first-ever anthology of modern Javanese fiction in English translation. The stories range over issues of ethnic identity, male-female relationships, religious faith, status and face, making money, and how 'Java' sees the domineering reality of 'Indonesia.' Behind them lies a recognisably Javanese worldview deep-rooted in the island’s villages and small towns. The writing glows with sly humour expressed in an array of unique situations, characters, images, and writing conventions.

These stories from the cultural and geographical heart of Indonesia have been translated by Pak George Quinn, who taught Javanese and Indonesian language and literature at ANU for several decades until 2008. Since then, Pak George has continued to research and publish on Javanese and Indonesian culture. She Wanted to be a Beauty Queen will be launched by newly appointed lecturer in Indonesian language and expert on ancient Javanese and Balinese manuscripts, Dr Jarrah Sastrawan, and Ayu Hancock whose Honours research is focused on Javanese culture.

Light refreshments will be served courtesy of event hosts CHL Gender Media and Cultural Studies and the ANU Indonesia Institute.


George Quinn is one of Australia's most innovative teachers of Indonesian with 25 years practical experience teaching the language at the University of Sydney, the Northern Territory University and, until his retirement in 2008, the Australian National University. As a researcher he is best known for his ground-breaking study of modern literature in the Javanese language The Novel in Javanese (KITLV, 1992). George Quinn holds a Bachelor's degree in Indonesian from Gadjah Mada University (Yogyakarta) and a PhD from the University of Sydney. His books are published in Indonesian and English, and include his best selling Bandit Saints of Java (Monsoon Books, 2019) and its translation, Wali Berandal Tanah Jawa (Gramedia, 2021). George is currently preparing a Javanese-language edition of She Wanted to be a Beauty Queen.

Jarrah Sastrawan is a historian of Southeast Asia, specialising in premodern Indonesia. He researches the inscriptions and manuscripts of the archipelago to find new ways of understanding the region's peoples. Jarrah teaches Indonesian language and Southeast Asian history and has a particular fascination with how the practice of history varies across different cultures. He is currently a Lecturer at the Australian National University.

Ayu Hancock is currently doing her honours year on gender and Javanese culture at ANU. She grew up in Canberra to Indonesian and Australian parents, and has always felt a strong connection to Indonesia. Ayu is passionate about Indonesian-Australian relations, especially regarding culture and language in Java.

Book Sale - A limited number of books will be available for sale for AUD $25 (cash preferred). 



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