Sergius Seeks Bacchus

BY Norman Erikson Pasaribu / TR. BY Tiffany Tsao

Sergius Seeks Bacchus – paperback
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Winner of a PEN Translates grant

Sergius Seeks Bacchus is a heartbreaking and humorous rumination on what it means to be in the minority in terms of sexuality, ethnicity, and religion. Drawing on the poet’s life as an openly gay writer of Bataknese descent and Christian background, the collection furnishes readers with an alternative gospel, a book of bittersweet and tragicomic good news pieced together from encounters with ridicule, persecution, loneliness, and also happiness.

The thirty-three poems in Norman Pasaribu’s prize-winning debut display a thrilling diversity of style, length, and tone, and telescope out from individual experience to that of fellow members of the queer community, finding inspiration equally in the work of great Indonesian poets and the international literary canon, from Dante to Herta Müller.


‘Timeless and yet utterly of the moment, spiritual but always grounded in reality, deeply sensual, but always aware of the transiency of connection.’ — Andrew McMillan

‘A wittily crafted, inquisitive and generous dreamscape. Here is a space where we are safe and invited to wonder, to thread together musings on the divine, our selves, our families and friends, to contemplate great sorrow and small joys, to see light and darkness and not be afraid to venture into either.’ — Nina Li Coomes

‘Sergius Seeks Bacchus provides a unique queer perspective on love, loneliness, persecution, society, and religion. In increasingly conservative Indonesia, Norman’s work is a significant contribution to wider public debates around culture, nationhood, and identity. It is a must read for international readers, especially those who are committed to promoting non-Western perspectives in queer literature.’ — Intan Paramaditha, LitHub

‘Though he writes in Indonesian, Pasaribu’s poetry collection Sergius Seeks Bacchus (translated by Tiffany Tsao) carries the inflections, songs, and stories of diaspora. His works offer the joys and isolations of queer life in a conservative landscape, a minority existence (less visible in the Javanese-dominated mainstream), and the influences of Christianity.’ — J.R. Ramakrishnan, Electric Literature



  • ISBNs: 9781911284239 (print) / 9781911284215 (ebook)

  • Publication date: 21 March 2019

  • Format: Demy paperback (216mm × 138mm)

  • Rights held: Commonwealth excluding ANZ