Nuril Basri is an Indonesian writer. His works, including SUNYI, ENAK, ROMANTIS, and DOSA, have been translated and published in Malaysia. RATU and Bukan Perjaka (Not A Virgin, translated by John H. McGlynn) are soon to be published in English. Nuril recently visited Norwich with Avianti Armand and Debby Lukito Goeyardi for a week-long residency funded by the Indonesian Book Committee. Here, he describes the experience in his own words.
During my writing residency program in the U.K. I got the chance to be invited by Writers’ Centre Norwich and visited Norwich for the very first time. I layered my body with clothes like onion. It was cold, too cold for me who comes from tropical country. It’s chilly, windy, sometimes sunny weather gives me the clue that Norwich is unpredictable and full of mystery. And then I discovered that I walked on top a mass graveyard called Tombland when I had ‘a ghost tour’ at night and so I keep talking to myself, yes, yes, this UNESCO city of literature is haunted. But don’t get me wrong, it is indeed a good thing. A city is not a city without a story, and Norwich has it all.
Norwich has inspired me with its authenticity. The churches, old buildings, the library, the slightly gloomy atmospheric city that weirdly calming me. The people, their smiles, politely saying “sorry”. That ding-dongs bell from the Cathedral, oh and that Primark and Debenhams, Chinese restaurant called Tasty, Japanese Shiki, those are all a big pot of harmony. The picturesque Elm Hill, have stolen my heart completely. I remember I was standing in the city market and holding pomegranate in my hand and thinking to myself how lovely it is, beautiful market, beautiful fruit in the midday of the city. Vicarage, priory, Norfolk, limestone, and history that shown to me. I could go on and on.
this UNESCO city of literature is haunted
It’s a whole new experience, Norwich has elevated my way of thinking in some new different perspectives. I’m glad it has given me new knowledges and helped me discovering new feelings. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t have happened without the hard-working dragons from the Dragon Hall: Writers’ Centre Norwich. They have been treating me very well since the very first minutes I stepped my foot in the city. They arranged my meeting with Tanya Landman, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Isabelle King, Angel Igov, and many other talented people whom I had never imagined I could met with.
I honestly don’t know how to put it in words in how thankful I am for the chance and the everything, especially to Kate Griffin, the Associate Programme Director who has been being more than just a Programme Director but also a dear friend. It was truly precious moments in Norwich and I hope it will help me with my new writing. I will definitely be going back to this city. Dear Norwich, stay old, stay classy!