When Wandering the Globe Is a Feminist Choose-Your-Own Adventure (VICE)

Syarafina Vidyadhana

We spoke with the rising author Intan Paramaditha about her life on the move and why “bad girls wander.”

Intan Paramaditha has spent the last decade moving from place to place, but, for this rising Indonesian author, the concept seems to take on a more ethereal state of being. She describes it with the word “gentayangan,” which, sure it means “wandering,” but it’s typically used to describe ghosts who refuse to cross over to the other side.

It’s a word Intan uses to describe the feeling of moving between cultures and places, and how, once you return home, you feel a bit torn between here and all the other places out there you also called “home.”

“I feel like I’m not here nor there, but at the same time [I feel like I’m] everywhere,” Intan told me.

In 10 years, Intan has lived in Jakarta, San Diego, New York, Amsterdam, and now Sydney, where she teaches classes on film and cultural criticism at Macquarie University. Even when she stays in once place for a while—she’s been in Sydney for about a year—Intan told me that she changes addresses whenever life starts to feel too stagnant.

The only constants have been her love of film and fiction, her partner Ugoran Prasad, the singer of the legendary Yogyakarta band Melancholic Bitch, and their 14-year-old daughter Ilana. Well, that and her hatred of malls. Which is weird, since that’s exactly where we decided to meet… because, you know, when in Jakarta.

 

Photo by Syarafina Vidyadhana (VICE)

 

Intan walked into the cafe in Cilandak Town Square—a large, semi-outdoors mall that tries to feel like an actual town, but fails—in a red dress, red lipstick, and nude flats. We agreed to meet to talk about her debut novel, The Wandering: Choose Your Own Red Shoes Adventure, a globe trotting choose-your-own adventure book that brings readers on a journey through Jakarta, Harlem, and the US-Mexico border.

It was her first novel, following up on two short story collections, Black Magic Woman and Spinner of Darkness and Other Tale, and a play called The Obsessive Twist. A full novel was already a new format for Intan, so why did she choose something as hard to write, and ignored, as a choose-your-own adventure tale?

 

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