Norman Erikson Pasaribu's 'Happy Stories, Mostly', translated by Tiffany Tsao, makes it into the prestigious longlist of Man Booker International Prize 2022.


Norman Erikson Pasaribu is longlisted for the International Booker Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Prize for his novel, “Cerita-Cerita Bahagia, Hampir Seluruhnya.” This novel was first published in October 2020 by Gramedia Pustaka Utama. Later on, “Cerita-Cerita Bahagia, Hampir Seluruhnya” was translated in English by Tiffany Tsao from Tilted Axis Press in 2021, titled “Happy Stories, Mostly.” 

The author states that he’s excited by the announcement and still cannot believe that his translated book titled “Happy Stories, Mostly” has been picked for the longlist of International Booker Prize 2022. 

**Queer characters instead of hetero**
"Happy Stories, Mostly" is a collection of twelve stories inspired by Simone Weil’s concept of ‘discretion’ and depictions of Batak and Christian cultural elements. In these stories, queer characters are placed in roles that are usually filled by hetero characters. 

This 144-paged book explores what it means to be almost happy, it grasps the struggle and suffering of the queer of almost being accepted, almost to find joy but never quite grasp one’s desire.

One story tells about a new employee in a workplace– a department of Heaven in charge of archiving unanswered prayers. Another, tells about a woman who attempts to find solace following the suicide of her son on a holiday in Vietnam. In a third, a young man befriends a university classmate who is obsessed with verifying the existence of a mythical hundred-foot-tall man. 

"Happy Stories, Mostly" is a blend of science fiction, absurdism and alternative-historical realism that gives off a breath of fresh air. It aims to destabilize the heteronormative world and expose its underlying absences. 

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**More on Norman Erikson Pasaribu and Tiffany Tsao**
Norman Erikson Pasaribu was born in Jakarta in 1990. He is known for his poetry and short stories that were nominated in both international and national literary awards, and also won some too. 

 His first short story collection titled “Hanya Kamu yang Tahu Berapa Lama Lagi Aku Harus Menunggu (Only you Know How Much Longer I Should Wait) was shortlisted for 2014 Khatulistiwa Literary Award in the Prose category. 

He won the 2015 Jakarta Arts Council Poetry Competition with his debut poetry collection, “Sergius Mencari Bacchus” (Sergius Seeks Bacchus). The collection is also shortlisted for the 2016 Khatulistiwa Literary Award in the Poetry category. It is also named as one of the best poetry collections by Tempo for that year. 

Tiffany Tsao is a novelist, translator and critic based in Sydney. She is the author of The Majesties and the Oddfits fantasy series. Her translation of Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s poetry collection, Sergius Seeks Bacchus was awarded a PEN Presents prize and a PEN Translation grant. She also translates a couple of Indonesian books to English that includes Dee Lestari’s novel “Paper Boats” and Lakshmi Pamuntjak’s “The Birdwoman’s Palate.” 

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