Andrea Hirata

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Hirata in 2012

Andrea Hirata is an Indonesian author best known for the 2005 novel Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops) and its sequels.


Hirata was born in Gantung, Belitung[1] on 24 October; he has not made his year of birth public.[2] While he was young, his parents changed his name seven times.[3] They eventually settled on the name Andrea, while the name Hirata was given by his mother.[3] He grew up in a poor family not far from a government-owned mine.[2]

Hirata started his tertiary education with a degree in economics from the University of Indonesia.[2] After receiving a scholarship from the European Union, he did his master's degree in Europe, first at the University of Paris then at Sheffield Hallam University in Britain;[2] his thesis dealt with telecommunications and the economy.[4]

Hirata released Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops) in 2005.[5] The novel, written in a period of six months, was based on his childhood experiences in Belitung;[2] he later described it as "an irony about a lack of access to education for children in one of the world's wealthiest islands.".[6] The novel went on to sell five million copies, with pirated editions selling 15 million more.[3] It also spawned three sequels: Sang Pemimpi (The Dreamer), Edensor and Maryamah Karpov.[2]

Laskar Pelangi was adapted into a film of the same name in 2008 by directors Riri Riza and Mira Lesmana;[6] the film became the most-viewed Indonesian film of all time, being seen by 4.6 million viewers during its theatrical run.[7] He also worked at the telecommunications company Telkom Indonesia, eventually quitting to focus on writing.[4][8] In 2010 the international rights for the Laskar Pelangi tetralogy were bought by American agent Amer & Asia;[5] the rights were later acquired by Kathleen Anderson Literary Management.[8] Afterwards, Hirata opened a library in his hometown.[1]

By 2010, he was spending weekends in Belitung and weekdays in Java.[1] He later published his first English-language short story, "Dry Season", in Washington Square Review.[8] That same year, he spent three months attending a writer's workshop at the University of Iowa.[3][9]

In 2011, television network SCTV announced a 15-episode serial adaption of Laskar Pelangi; Hirata had previously said he would not allow such an adaptation, but later relented as he felt the network could guarantee quality.[8] By 2012 the English translation of his novel Laskar Pelangi had been picked up by FSG, Penguin Books, and Random House for sale in twenty countries; Hirata was the first Indonesian writer to be published with FSG.[7][10] That year he was a speaker at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.[10]


Winner of New York Book Festival 2013 in general fiction category [11]