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Max Lane has been engaged with Indonesia for over 50 years. In the 1970s, he translated W.S. Rendra’s play The Struggle of the Naga Tribe, which was performed in English in Australia and Malaysia. He spent time with Rendra’s group, Bengkel Teater. In the 1980s, he worked in the Australian Embassy in Jakarta when he started translating Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s This Earth of Mankind and its three sequels, together now known as the Buru Quartet. He was withdrawn from the Embassy by the Australian government for translating these banned books. He later translated Pramoedya’s novel, Arok Dedes and historical work, The Chinese in Indonesia. Upon returning to Australia, he helped found the Inside Indonesia magazine and became its first editor. In the 1990s, he actively supported the democracy movements in Indonesia and East Timor and as a journalist wrote hundreds of articles about Indonesia. He has written several books on Indonesia, including Unfinished Nation: Indonesia Before and After Suharto, Catastrophe in Indonesia, An Introduction to the Politics of the Indonesian Union Movement and Indonesia and Not, Poems and Otherwise: Anecdotes Scattered.
Some have been published in Indonesian alongside other original writings. He has lectured at the University of Sydney and Victoria University and at universities in Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States. He has been a research fellow at Murdoch University, the National University of Singapore, and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies-Yusof Isak Institute, also in Singapore. He is married to Indonesian playwright and theatre producer, Faiza Mardzoeki.