Indonesian author Eka Kurniawan achieved huge critical success globally during 2015–2016 with his translated novels Beauty is a wound and Man tiger, which have been praised for their sweeping historical scope, ‘magical realist’ elements, and experimentation with voice and genre. First published in the Indonesian language more than a decade earlier as Cantik itu luka and Lelaki harimau, these novels initially faced a relatively lukewarm reception locally. Only once Eka Kurniawan’s work had been ‘found in translation’ was he taken more seriously in Indonesian media coverage. This article charts Eka Kurniawan’s rise to literary fame, paying particular attention to the shifting tone and content of reviews, marketing, cover art, and media representations, as the translated novels circulated globally. I use this case to examine two key issues: firstly, the ways in which certain genres such as horror and crime are ‘othered’ in the Indonesian literary landscape; and secondly, how processes of translation, distribution, and reception outside Indonesia can significantly impact local interpretations of an author and their work. In doing so, this article demonstrates that the politics of genre and the power relations of international publishing both contribute to complex patterns of inclusion and exclusion from ‘local’ and ‘global’ literary canons.