Ayu Utami is an award-winning Indonesian writer who was the laureate of the Prince Claus Award in 2000 and the Ahmad Bakrie Award for Literature in 2018. During Indonesia's military regime, Ayu was a journalist and activist for freedom of the press. She was one of the founders of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, later banned by the military regime. Her first novel Saman (1998), published just a few days before President Suharto stepped down, was highly acclaimed by literary critics and became a bestseller as well as a beacon of freedom during the movement for political change (Reformasi) in Indonesia. In Indonesia’s democratic political system, she believes that religious radicalism constitutes the main challenge to freedom of expression. To cope with this challenge, she focuses her works on the promotion of what she terms “critical spiritualism.” This concept was first mentioned in her novel Bilangan Fu (The Number Fu, 2008) and has permeated all her works since then.