Among the vibrant nightlife in the city of Montreal, one thing that drew a girl’s attention was a homeless old man, laid down in front of a closed shop in freezing weather. Another time, in her hometown in Bali, she wondered why in such a prosperous island, some children still do not have access to clean water and electricity.
Scenes of misfortune and issues of inequality profoundly influence Ni Ketut Sudiani, a young author from Bali. Born and raised in a narrow lane in Denpasar, she feels closely related to those with little capital that are often excluded from the boisterous city life.
Her concerns towards the issues can be spotted in her works, both fiction and journalistic ones. “Some people do not have the privilege to speak up their voices. I feel like I need to write something for and about them. The motivation appears naturally in me,” Sudiani explained.
This perspective also influences her traveling experiences. Anywhere she goes, the thought about those issues keep following her. For Sudiani, traveling is not always about seeking personal happiness or conquering places; it is also an opportunity to delve into other people’s world and listening to their stories. She prefers to be part of the locals’ real daily life rather than visiting tourist areas. “But even in the fanciest touristic place, you still could spot the unpleasant truth like social and economic inequality either it happens nowadays or part of the history,” said the IDN Times news editor who has explored various countries across the globe.
In 2014 she launched her first novel, “The Voices of Butterflies,” that portrays the experiences of 9 Indonesian youth and 9 young people from Canada in two different regions: Nova Scotia, Eastern Canada, and Sei Gohong, Borneo. The novel, which is written originally in English based on true stories. Sudiani and the other 17 youths were part of the Indonesia-Canada Youth Exchange Program. Instead of glorifying herself and her personal adventures during the six months program, her novel focuses more on voicing the stories of people around her who are from various backgrounds. “It’s about their journey and our friendship. In some pages, it narrates stories of strangers we met along the journey, through the perspective of a girl named Ani.”
The Voices of Butterflies has been discussed in Alberta (Canada), Melbourne (Australia), Papua, and Bali. In 2016, Sudiani received a translation grant from the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Indonesia. As a result, her novel was translated into the Indonesian language and will be published soon, with a new title, “Nikmak.” It means friendship in the language of Mi’kmaq people in Nova Scotia.
When ThePhala asked Sudiani her next project, she said she prepares for a second novel. “It is inspired by a small family in Hungaria, where I stayed in for a couple of weeks.” Sudiani was listed as 200 Best Authors of World Bank International Essay Writing Competition and selected as Indonesian delegation for various international forums, scholarship, and exchange programs.
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