Indonesia etc Exploring the improbable nation

Elizabeth Pisani

Book - 2014

"An entertaining and thought-provoking portrait of Indonesia: a rich, dynamic, and often maddening nation awash with contradictions. Jakarta tweets more than any other city on earth, but 80 million Indonesians live without electricity and many of its communities still share in ritual sacrifices. Declaring independence in 1945, Indonesia said it would 'work out the details of the transfer of power etc. as soon as possible.' With over 300 ethnic groups spread across 13,500 islands, ...the world's fourth most populous nation has been working on that 'etc.' ever since. Bewitched by Indonesia for twenty-five years, Elizabeth Pisani recently traveled 26,000 miles around the archipelago in search of the links that bind this impossibly disparate nation. Fearless and funny, Pisani shares her deck space with pigs and cows, bunks down in a sulfurous volcano, and takes tea with a corpse. Along the way, she observes Big Men with child brides, debates corruption and cannibalism, and ponders 'sticky' traditions that cannot be erased"--Provided by publisher.

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Subjects
Published
New York, NY : W.W. Norton & Company [2014]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
404 pages ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780393088588
0393088588
Main Author
Elizabeth Pisani (author)
  • Improbable nation
  • The ties that bind
  • Sticky culture
  • Indonesian man
  • The emperor is far away
  • Happy families
  • Spoils of the earth
  • Private matters
  • Historical fictions
  • Misfits
  • Indigenous arts
  • Faith healing
  • The other Indonesia
  • Epilogue
  • Glossary.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Pisani first came to Indonesia as a journalist and later as an epidemiologist specializing in HIV, living there at various times during a 25-year period. Charmed by Indonesia's idiosyncrasies, contradictions, enigmas, disappointments, and seductions, she garnered the impression that the nation is "one giant Bad Boyfriend." Indonesia is a string of more than 13,000 islands inhabited by people of more than 360 ethnic groups who speak more than 700 languages—a cobbling together of peoples and cultures that is a result of colonization by the Dutch and occupation by the Japanese. Pisani (The Wisdom of Whores, 2008) spent a year randomly traveling 26,000 miles around the archipelago, visiting the capital, Jakarta, as well as jungles and small villages to talk to farmers, politicians, priests, fishermen, teachers, soldiers, nurses, and others to capture the heart and soul of Indonesia. She encountered child brides, witnessed young men jousting with javelins, sipped tea at a funeral, and spotted satellite dishes on the grass roofs of bamboo huts. An intimate, fascinating look at the world's fourth most populous nation, one working to define itself in a modernizing world. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Traveling 26,000 miles around any country is not for the faint of heart, but that's exactly what Pisani does in the island nation of Indonesia. For over a year, starting in late 2011, Pisani (former journalist, HIV epidemiologist, TED2010 speaker, public health consultant, and visitor to Indonesia for over 20 years) journeys via airplane, boat, bus, and motorbike from one end of the archipelago to the other (visiting 26 of its 33 provinces), seeing old friends and meeting a huge cast of intriguing characters along the way. What makes this book so wonderful is that the author does not sugarcoat her experiences. She tells it like it is, from the kindness of Indonesians toward a Western woman traveling alone (yes, she accepts rides and places to sleep from strangers) to the widespread forms of corruption and patronage (there is a huge difference between the two). More than an adventure story, this engaging title gives readers a glimpse of the extreme changes taking place in a country with a very large and very diverse population. VERDICT A one-of-a-kind, fun journey around a country that's typically overlooked by the West. Travel and Asian history/culture readers will thoroughly enjoy this book.—Melissa Aho, Univ. of Minnesota Bio-Medical Lib., Minneapolis [Page 113]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Pisani first came to Indonesia as a foreign correspondent, then later returned as an epidemiologist specializing in HIV. With over 300 ethnic groups spread across 13,500 islands, Indonesia is the world's fourth most populated nation. Visiting jungles and small villages, the author profiles many people during her travels. Readers will learn that Jakarta tweets more than any other city on Earth and that 80 million people there live without electricity. (LJ 8/14) [Page 42]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Paints a unique picture of Indonesia and its citizens, where eighty million residents from over three hundred ethnic groups across 13,500 islands live without electricity and some communities still participate in ritual sacrifices.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Paints a unique picture of Indonesia and its citizens, where 80 million residents from over 300 ethnic groups across 13,500 islands live without electricity and some communities still participate in ritual sacrifices. 12,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"An entertaining and thought-provoking portrait of Indonesia: a rich, dynamic, and often maddening nation awash with contradictions. Jakarta tweets more than any other city on earth, but 80 million Indonesians live without electricity and many of its communities still share in ritual sacrifices. Declaring independence in 1945, Indonesia said it would 'work out the details of the transfer of power etc. as soon as possible.' With over 300 ethnic groups spread across 13,500 islands, the world's fourth most populous nation has been working on that 'etc.' ever since. Bewitched by Indonesia for twenty-five years, Elizabeth Pisani recently traveled 26,000 miles around the archipelago in search of the links that bind this impossibly disparate nation. Fearless and funny, Pisani shares her deck space with pigs and cows, bunks down in a sulfurous volcano, and takes tea with a corpse. Along the way, she observes Big Men with child brides, debates corruption and cannibalism, and ponders 'sticky' traditions that cannot be erased"--Provided by publisher.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Searching for the benang merah, or red thread that binds the disparate parts of Indonesia together, previous resident and Indonesian-fluent Pisani, spent one year in random selection of Indonesian experiences. The former foreign correspondent for Reuter and current HIV epidemiologist put aside her London consultancy, and with a rule of just say yes, traveled more than 40,000 kilometers by motor bike, bus, boat, and plane, visiting more than three-fourths of the “Bad Boyfriend’s” provinces, ultimately finding a nation quite different than the one she thought she knew. There are 13 chapters: improbable nation; the ties that bind; sticky culture; resident aliens, the emperor is far away; happy families; spoils of the earth; profits on ice; historical fictions; misfits; indigenous arts; faith healing; the other Indonesia. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Jakarta tweets more than any other city on earth, but 80million Indonesians live without electricity and many of itscommunities still share in ritual sacrifices. Declaring independencein 1945, Indonesia said it would “work out the detailsof the transfer of power etc. as soon as possible.” With over300 ethnic groups spread across 13,500 islands, the world’sfourth most populous nation has been working on that“etc.” ever since. Bewitched by Indonesia for twenty-fiveyears, Elizabeth Pisani recently traveled 26,000 miles aroundthe archipelago in search of the links that bind this impossiblydisparate nation. Fearless and funny, Pisani shares herdeck space with pigs and cows, bunks down in a sulfurousvolcano, and takes tea with a corpse. Along the way, sheobserves Big Men with child brides, debates corruption andcannibalism, and ponders “sticky” traditions that cannot beerased.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

An entertaining and thought-provoking portrait of Indonesia: a rich,dynamic, and often maddening nation awash with contradictions.