Category Archives: Toko Buku

The Wisdom of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani

The Wisdom of Whores is a passionate, intensely honest and thankfully politically incorrect book that tells how sex and drugs have turned the global epidemic of HIV into a billion-dollar-a-year industry. Elizabeth Pisani, who studied AIDS for 14 years, shows sides of Indonesia that we didn’t know existed and takes a no-holds-barred approach to finding out why 40 million people are living with HIV and 28 million have already died of AIDS when we have the knowledge, the money and the means to wipe out the disease in 90% of the world. By the time President Reagan forced the words ... [ Read More ]

Drought by Iwan Simatupang

For more than 100 years, the Indonesian government’s solution to overpopulation was the magic cure-all transmigrasi, first instituted by the Dutch in 1905. Transmigration involves relocating people from densely populated “inner islands” such as Java, Bali and Lombok to more sparsely populated Outer Islands like Kalimantan, Nusatenggara, Sulawesi, Sumatra and Papua. Under the massive program, millions of people were brought in to settle the country’s hinterlands. At its peak between 1979 and 1984, 535,000 families were relocated, an influx that had a major impact on the demographics of some regions. Set in the 1960s, Drought is the story of an ex-student, ex-soldier ... [ Read More ]

Retired, Rewired by Cat Wheeler

As Bali’s population of resident Westerners ages, a whole genre of homegrown literature has emerged: The Bali Expat Memoir. Often self-published, these books are written by restaurateurs, musicologists, impresarios, home birthers, art collectors,   tourismpioneers, etc. Cat Wheeler stands in the top rank of these contemporary Bali-based writers, taking her place among other women who have shared the same rapture for the island as Anais Nin, Jane Belo, Vicki Baum, Anna Mathews and Katharane Mershon from earlier times. Retired, Rewired is the story of long-time resident Wheeler’s journey to proud and exuberant elderhood in Ubud. Wheeler is perhaps best known for her popular Greenspeak column ... [ Read More ]

Like the Moon and the Sun by Stanley Harsha

As angry mobs screamed “Satan!” and pelted the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta with projectiles, American diplomat Stanley Harsha – author of Like the Moon and the Sun – smiled to himself and remarked that people were at least free to express themselves in contrast to the brutal suppression of free speech in the Suharto era. This was a time when steel plates were installed over the embassy’s windows, concertina wire barriers were uncoiled on the street outside and stern travel warnings were issued to U.S. citizens against travel to Indonesia. After terrorists attacked U.S. soil on September 11, 2001, and ... [ Read More ]

Bali: Ancient Rites in the Digital Age

I have a 2.5 meters long row of Bali photo books in my library of Baliana, three quarters of which I have reviewed for this column. With the exception of picture books of the island published in the black and white era, I know of no other publication that shows the devotion, dignity, variety, spiritual depth and mesmerizing beauty of the Bali Hindu religious experience as stunningly as does Bali: Ancient Rites in the Digital Age. The book is a personal portfolio of the work of Ida Bagus Putra Adnyana between 2004 and 2015, a singularly intimate close up view of ritual ... [ Read More ]

Departures by Nh. Dini

Departures opens on a wrenching scene at Jakarta’s old Kemayoran Airport as Dutch evacuees pass through immigration. Employees of recently nationalized Dutch firms, plantations and factories were pouring out of the country. On their taut and worried faces was reflected the same kind of fear that I saw on the unforgettable faces of Chinese families crammed into Kota’s immigration hall during the riots of 1998. Evacuees included those who’ve worked in Indonesia for a short while and those whose families have lived here for generations. Elisa Frissart was among those choosing to remain behind. She was saying goodbye to her ... [ Read More ]

CAN I LIVE HERE? by Sarah Alderson

In 2009, Sarah and John Alderson quit their full-time jobs in London and embarked, with two rucksacks and a three-year-old daughter in tow, on a round the world journey to find a better life in a new home. The family travelled through the US, Australia, Singapore and Asia – encountering bears in North America, navigating India with a toddler in a tutu and battling black-magic curses in Indonesia – asking themselves one defining question: Can We Live Here? After their yearlong adventure, the family at last settled in Penestanan near Ubud where they lived for five years. In 2010, inspiration struck Sarah and she ... [ Read More ]

GUITARLO by Arlo Hennings

How can a memoirist put 60 years of his life into a 328-page book? In his memoir Guitarlo, Arlo Hennings finds himself equal to the task by portraying himself as a sympathetic, fearless and daring character living a remarkable life. Like Ulysses, he is an unlikely anti-hero thrust upon journeys to defy the Gods and win or lose over and over again. His writing is equally as fearless and experimental using a hipster music industry vocabulary, daring syllogisms and unique mode of expression that defies pigeonholing. Tom Robbins wrote that only famous people should write memoirs. Hennings isn’t famous but ... [ Read More ]

Rifle Reports by Mary Margaret Steedly

On August 17, 1945, Indonesia proclaimed its independence from Dutch colonial rule. Five years later, the Republic of Indonesia was recognized as a unified, sovereign state. The period in between was a time of aspiration, mobilization and violence in which nationalists fought to expel the Dutch while also trying to come to grips with a working model of “independence.” Rifle Reports is an absorbing ethnographic history of this extraordinary time as it was experienced in an outlying region of the archipelago among Karo Batak villagers in the rural highlands of North Sumatra. This major study centers specifically on Kabanjahé, north of Lake ... [ Read More ]

Seen and Unseen by Russell Darnley

Seen and Unseen is a collection of 29 stories tracing three generations of Australians engaged with Asia. Half the stories are set in Indonesia in the period 1984 to 2002. Many focus on cultural differences, while still others take on weightier matters of global significance. Environmental destruction in Bali, Kalimantan and Sumatra and a wistful nostalgia for what has been lost are other dominant themes.   Born in 1947, author Russell Darnley grew up in Sydney with a seafaring father who gave him an interest in what laybeyond. As a young adult he travelled the world and discovered his interests lay in South ... [ Read More ]