Faiza Mardzoeki

Book Worm: Faiza Marzoeki; Novels & realism

Playwright Faiza Mardzoeki often takes inspiration and ideas from the books she reads to produce high quality plays.

Most of Faiza’s works, such as 2006’s Nyai Ontosoroh (Madame Ontosoroh), are adapted from realist novels, a genre that she said was her favorite.

However, she did not always have access to the high quality literature that made her the way she is today.

The 43-year-old playwright, who was born in the Central Java town of Purwokerto, said that during her teenage years she only had access to teen novels.“Everyone read Lupus because that was the only novel available in Purwokerto back then,” she said, referring to a popular teen novel written by Hilman Hariwijaya that was one of the country’s bestselling novels back in the 1980s.

When Faiza started her theatrical career in 1992, she began reading serious novels, including the works of Pramoedya Ananta Toer, whose books were banned in the past because of his alleged affiliations with the left wing political movement.

“I can say Pram is one of the few realist novelists in Indonesia. We do not have a strong tradition of reading realist novels here. Most of the novels written here are about religion and dreams.”

Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Tetralogy

Pram had a very strong influence on my political knowledge, particularly on the issue about society and how it develops. I usually did not give much thought about society, but through the literature provided in Pram’s Tetralogy — Bumi Manusia (Human’s Earth), Anak Semua Bangsa (Child of All Nations), Jejak Langkah (Steps) and Rumah Kaca (House of Glass) — I learned a lot.


Women at Point Zero
by Nawal El Saadawi

This was one of the most influential novels for my career. I adapted it into a play back in 2000 with Nurul Arifin in the leading role. It impacted me by broadening my comprehension about women’s issues in society.


All works by Henrik Ibsen

Ibsen was very clever in capturing the dynamics of everyday lives and all of his stories are timeless, despite the fact they were written more than a hundred years ago. Ibsen talked about human beings in any period and any place. He did not talk about the artifacts or the cultural accessories that were embedded in a society, but about all human beings.