MMA Book 2022 09 Cover

Launching in 2022

More Ancient

It is 1751, and nine-year-old Wulan finds herself half a world away from her home in Java: torn from her adored grandparents, her chattering cousins, the sounds and smells of the landscape that she loves

She and her father, Parto, are enslaved on a Cape Colony farmstead, with little hope of returning home. In this new world they hold fast to their Javanese identity and beliefs while, through their shared suffering, they forge bonds with the multicultural community whose descendants would come to be known as the Cape Malays.

The Author

Isna Marifa

A visit to South Africa led to Isna Marifa's commitment to telling the story of the Javanese who were taken to South Africa in the colonial era.

Her début, Mountains More Ancient, is the first novel to focus on the Indonesian experience of slavery in South Africa, illuminating this history of unfreedom through a timeless story of love, loss, and longing.

Isna Marifa


What They Say

Reactions to the novel.

This is an important novel: it reminds us that history is also made by the activities and stories of 'little' people, those who find it difficult to determine their own destinies.

Febi Indriani

Journalist & Writer

Mountains More Ancient shines a welcome light on this unilluminated period of Indonesian and Dutch-colonial histories…Isna Marifa's poetic prose and her sympathetic descriptions of the 'little people' who provided the labor for this colonial enterprise, makes for a haunting, unforgettable story.

John H. McGlynn

The Lontar Foundation

Isna Marifa has given life to a slice of the history of colonial oppression in Java and the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. This novel combines thorough research with literary craft, resulting in a meaningful and flowing narrative.

Putu Oka Sukanta

Poet & Novelist

This novel enables me to walk in the footsteps of my Malay forefathers from the ancient world of the Nusantara, as well as my Afro-Malay forebears who crisscrossed this African landscape as enslaved agricultural workers

Mogamat Kamedian

CO-Editor of Bibliography of Bondage


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