Ayu Utami is an award-winning Indonesian writer who was the 2000 Prince Claus Award Laureate. During Indonesia's military regime, Ayu was a journalist and press freedom activist. She was one of the founders of The Alliance of Independent Journalists which was later banned by the military regime. Her first novel Saman (1998), published just a few days before Soeharto stepped down, was highly acclaimed by literary critics and became a bestseller as well as an icon of the spirit of freedom during the political change (Reformasi) in Indonesia. In Indonesia’s democratic political system, she sees that religious radicalism constitutes the main challenge to freedom of expression. To cope with this, she focuses her works to the promotion of what she names as “critical spiritualism”. This concept was firstly mentioned in her novel Bilangan Fu (The Number Fu, 2008). In 2018 Ayu was awarded Ahmad Bakrie Award for Literature and afterwards initiated the "Rasa Literary Award".