The Straits Times
Published on Feb 16, 2013

Translating a landmark Indonesian novel cost Max Lane his diplomatic career


He only took Bahasa Indonesia because he failed science in high school, but Australian Max Lane is now responsible for the English translations of major literary works from the country.

His 1981 rendering of This Earth Of Mankind by late activist Pramoedya Ananta Toer is now into its 25th reprint since it was first published by Penguin Australia.

"I still get e-mails from readers who read it in one read. It's a very powerful and engrossing and epic book," says Lane, 62, a well-known Indonesia watcher, who is now an honorary fellow at the University of Melbourne's Asia Institute.

Other major Indonesian figures he champions include South East Asia Write Award-winning poet W.S. Rendra, who died in 2009. However, most remember him for the work he did on Pramoedya's Buru Quartet, the first book of which is This Earth Of Mankind.