Friday, June 30, 2006

Jim Simon on Minahasa chapter

Dear readers,

From today I will publish email correspondences that take place between Jim Simon and me. Mr. Simon is my book editor in Seattle. We hope that by knowing this editing process, which I found out to be intellectually stimulating, we could help you understand this project on nationalism better.

Jim Simon is the City Desk editor of The Seattle Times. He is a fine editor. We met first in 2001 when Jim did a work for the Washington-based International Center for Journalists in Jakarta. I admire this patience and his knowledge on Indonesia. It is a voluntary work. He helps edit my book without payment.

We are moving quite steadily now. We have just finished the third chapter on Minahasa. The next chapter is Java.

Andreas Harsono

From: Jim Simon
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 19:38:47 -0700
To: Andreas Harsono

Andreas -- Just finished editing the third chapter. I'll send it UPS or FedEx as soon as possible. I learned a lot about the 1950s rebellion in particular.

A couple of thoughts:

--- While I like the idea of the personal travelogue opening to the chapter, I think you need to be more explicit sooner in the chapter about how Miangas fits with the rest of the book. Does the island represent the extreme geographic and cultural reach of Indonesian nationalism -- and is thus, a metaphor for why it is failing? If so, you need to tell readers that.

Some anecdotes or examples of how this tension between Minahasan identity and Indonesian identity is playing out on this tiny island right now would be helpful. (It's interesting, by the way, that northern Sulawesi hasn't erupted in significant ethnic violence.) In the other chapters, the current day tension is far more obvious -- and bloody. There is a more subtle shifting going on in places like Miangas. Do residents really feel like Indonesians?

-- In the history section, you use specific dates quite liberally. That's often confusing because you really aren't telling the story chronologically. I think you can write about historical events while being more general about the time period.

Also, from chapter to chapter, you repeat background detail about events in Java such as the overthrow of Sukarno. Try to avoid that kind of repetition.

--I'd also suggest trying to trim the historical sections on both the rebellion and the development of Christianity. I found myself hungry for more about the current situation.

Be well,

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