Umar Kayam was an Indonesian sociologist and writer born in Ngawi, East Java, on April 30, 1932 and died on March 16, 2002. He began his education at Hollands Inlands School (HIS) Mangkunegoro, Surakarta, where his father also taught. He continued his education at MULO(Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs), then also continued studying language at a high school in Yogyakarta until 1951. He graduated from the Faculty of Education at Gadjah Mada University (1955), received a M.A. from University of New York, United States of America (1963), and received a Ph.D. from Cornell University, United States(1965). He was appointed Director General of Radio, Television, and Film in the Ministry of Information, a position which he held until 1969, when he began to serve as Chairman of the Jakarta Arts Council (1969-1972). He served as a Director for Social Studies Training Centre at the Hasanuddin University in Makassar (1975-1976) and as a member of the MPRS (People's Consultative Assembly). He was a lecturer at the University of Indonesia and a senior fellow at the East-West Centre in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States (1973). He was a Chairman of the National Film Council, a senior professor in the Faculty of Letters at the Gadjah Mada University and an emeritus professor at that same university until his death. A member of the advisory board of Horizon (magazine), Chairman of the Jakarta Arts Institute and a member of the Jakarta Academy, a lifetime position since his appointment in 1988.
Umar Kayam was a trailblazer in many aspects of his life. When he was a student at Gadjah Mada University, he was known as one of the pioneers who established the campus theater. When he was the General Director of Radio and Television, he was known as the man who made the Indonesian film industry vibrant. As the Chairman of the Jakarta Arts Council (1969-1972), he was known for conducting meetings that addressed modern art and traditional art forms. He developed a sociological study of the literature, introduced the grounded cultural approaches to social research, providing inspiration for the emergence of new creative art works in the fields of literature, art, and art performances, art market set up on campus, among other things.
He was also the author of many short stories and novels, of which some collections are available in English. In 1987 he won the S.E.A. Write Award. He was the author of many books of different styles and genre, including short stories, essays, novels, and children's stories, and through his literary career Umar Kayam gained a much deserved national reputation as the voice of the common man.
- Kayam, Umar (1975). Sri Sumarah dan Bawuk(short stories) (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Pustaka Jaya. LCCN 76941421. OCLC 2699573.
- Kayam, Umar (1980). Sri Sumarah dan Bawuk translated by Harry Aveling [Sri Sumarah and other stories]. Kuala Lumpur: Heinemann Educational Books. LCCN 81178431. OCLC 8031995.
- Kayam, Umar (1981). Seni, Tradisi, Masyarakat(essays) (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Penerbit Sinar Harapan. LCCN 82941057. OCLC 8820515.
- Kayam, Umar (1985). Semangat Indonesia: Suatu Perjalanan Budaya(with Henri Peccinotti) [Soul of Indonesia] (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Gramedia. LCCN 85942505.
- Kayam, Umar (1992). Para Priyayi (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Pustaka Utama Grafiti. ISBN 9794441864. LCCN 92943855. OCLC 27247838. Won the prize Yayasan Buku Utama Department of Education and Health, in 1995)
- Kayam, Umar (1997). Parta krama kumpulan cerita pendek (in Indonesian). Yogyakarta: Yayasan Untuk Indonesia. LCCN 97942078. OCLC 37806755.
- Kayam, Umar (1999). Seribu Kunang-kunang di Manhattan (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia. ISBN 9794613282. LCCN 99919378. OCLC 43403819.
- Eneste, Pamusuk (2001). Buku pintar sastra Indonesia : biografi pengarang dan karyanya, majalah sastra, penerbit sastra, penerjemah, lembaga sastra, daftar hadiah dan penghargaan. Jakarta: Penerbit Buku Kompas halaman 249. ISBN 9799251788.
- Kayam, Umar (1999). Jalan Menikung (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Pustaka Utama Grafiti. ISBN 9789794444122. OCLC 45082102.
- Kayam, Umar (2012). Para Priyayi translated by Vladislav Zhukov [Javanese Gentry]. Jakarta: Lontar Foundation. ISBN 9789798083952. LCCN 2012307616. OCLC 823121764.