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See Bookstores in Indonesia for information on where to order/purchase these books.
Stormy With a Chance of Fried Rice: Twelve Months in Jakarta by Pat Walsh. In great storytelling style, Pat shares short vignettes of his year-long Jakarta sojourn when he was editing a truth commission report on Timor Leste. The short stories that comprise the book are a mix of the fun lighter side of life as an expat, his cultural encounters and experiences as well as serious topics. As we join Pat in his daily experiences with Indonesians of all walks of life, we are privy as well to Pat's insightful explanations into aspects of the history and culture of Indonesia.
Pat's unique ability to share the funny side of his many daily encounters with Indonesia bring shared memories back to us all. Anyone who has lived as an expat in Jakarta will find reading his book fun and fascinating at the same time.
Balinese Food: The Traditional Cuisine & Food Culture of Bali by Vivienne Kruger. Just when you thought you knew a lot about Bali, along comes this in-depth look at the cuisine and how it fits into everyday culture. In Balinese Food the author brings to life Bali's time-honored and authentic village cooking traditions. In over 20 detailed chapters, she explores how the islands intricate culinary art is an inextricable part of Bali's Hindu religion, its culture and its community life. This book provides a detailed roadmap for those who wish to make their own exciting exploration of the exotic world of Balinese cooking!
City of Dreams: An extraordinary journey, inside the heart of Indonesia's capital - Jakarta by Mark Medley. A series of short stories that delve into the events and lifestyles of both Indonesians and expatriates in the 21st century in Jakarta. Each story may amuse, amaze or simply confuse you - as you journey into a city that the locals call the City of Dreams.
Culture Shock! Jakarta: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette (Culture Shock! at Your Door) - The 2007 edition of the original book authored by Derek Bacon is an essential guide to living in Indonesia! Author Terry Collins covers a wide range of subjects, giving advice to newcomers on: First Impressions, Fitting into Society, Settling In, Food and Entertaining, Culture and Travel, Communicating, Doing Business, and of course a bit of Indonesian History and Government to round out this very informative guide!
A Comprehensive Indonesian-English Dictionary: Second Edition by Alan Stevens. The most authoritative resource on the Indonesian language, this up-to-date dictionary features over 1,100 pages of roots, words, and phrases. Published in 2004, this essential reference book is the result of more than twenty years of research and documentation. Its features include the latest terminology from the worlds of business, technology, and government, with sample sentences from newspapers and literature. A valuable tool for communication.
Transnational Lives: Expatriates in Indonesia by Anne-Meike Fechter. A very interesting study on the lives of expatriates - living transnational lives in Jakarta, Indonesia. The book draws on the author's extended research among the expatriate community in Jakarta, Indonesia. The findings, which relate to expatriate communities worldwide, provide a nuanced analysis of current trends among a globally mobile workforce.
Kretek: The Culture and Heritage of Indonesia's Clove Cigarettes by Mark Hanusz – This beautifully illustrated book, detailing the past and present of Indonesia’s clove cigarette, is a coffee table book, to display and share. A work of art in itself, author Mark Hanusz has included page after page of images from around the world, drawing the reader into the world of Kretek, just as the fragrance of this cigarette with its unique combination of tobacco and cloves has woven its way through the history of Indonesia. A true treat for the senses, Kretek: The Culture and Heritage of Indonesia’s Clove Cigarette is a book to be savored and enjoyed.
Bule Gila: Tales of a Dutch Barman in Jakarta by Bartele Santema. Are you ready for a chuckle, or two, or a hundred? Bart of Bugils fame shares a host of hilarious "Tales of a Dutch Barman in Jakarta". The book is full of stories of his and his expat customers everyday encounters with Indonesians and their culture. The book is not at all focused on drunken expats (though there are a few :) ... his stories show his insight into the Indonesian culture and the humorous twists that arise in encounters that often go awry between the expats and Indonesian - both in the bar - and in life in the city of Jakarta. A really FUN read!
Playing With Fire: Adventures in Indonesia by Nick Langston-Able. A tale of one man’s journey through a country riven with political and economic change with one simple purpose in mind: to experience its culture and the natural beauty if its volcanoes. It is not meant as a guidebook to unveil the perfect Indonesian vacation, but rather a deep and witty narrative recounting the author’s immersion in a foreign culture. Anecdotes about Indonesian cultural oddities are interspersed with a very real picture of tourist life and travel destinations much touted by the government tourism bureau. All in all, an interesting read and a truthful look into the heart of a Southeast Asian nation.
Oil Patch: Living in Oil Company Compounds from Desert to Jungle by Gary Gentry (of Jakarta Players fame). Gary shares humorous stories of his many years in the oil patch from Libya to Borneo. Stories of his years in Indonesia include a look at the single man's entertainment in "Hormones", "Bu Wati" a woman of the streets, tracking elephant "Spoor", and descending into "The Stone Age: The Oil Patch". Every expat has a story to tell ... and Gary's make for an enjoyable read!
Ibu Maluku: The Story of Jeanne van Diejen by Ron Heynnerman. The unique story of a resolute woman who survives the hardships of remote jungles of Maluku, the horrors of two world wars, and the life-threatening political upheavals that preceded the birth of the Republic of Indonesia. Her story reminds one of Mother Theresa and Florence Nightingale because, like these women, Jeanne had an overriding sense of duty - that of wanting to be of service to her fellow man. During her life, she distinguished herself as a planter, nurse, midwife, gardener, and social worker.
Indonesian Heritage Series - a fascinating collection of excellent reference books on Indonesia history and culture, written by a stellar panel of experts, both Indonesian and foreign. The Indonesian Heritage series is an invaluable resource for those serious about learning more about Indonesia. Each volume contains detailed coverage of different topics on a major heritage theme presented in an easy-to-follow visual format with hundreds of photographs and illustrations. First series on Ancient History, The Human Environment, Early Modern History, Plants, Wildlife. Second series on Architecture, Performing Arts, Performing Arts, Religion and Ritual, Language and Literature.
Cigarette Girl by Ratih Kumala - An intriguing story that weaves back and forth through several generations of small town kretek cigarette manufacturers in Indonesia. Set on the island of Java the story follows the evolution of several families involved in the manufacture of kretek, clove cigarettes. The tale follows the kretek businesses from their early years under the colonial rules of the Dutch East Indies in the early 1940s, through the three generations of the families who live through the Japanese occupation, the struggle for independence, and the bloody coup in 1965 in which half a million Indonesians were hunted down and killed.
Rich in cultural insights and the almost mystical beliefs in kretek, the story winds its way through the complicated relationships between a dying patriarch, three sons who stand to inherit, a jealous wife and the mysterious cigarette girl. Published in its original Bahasa Indonesia, English and German.
Tiger with a Human Soul by Barbara Bisco - Barbara brings to life the ancient royal courts of the Mataram kingdom in Central Java through the escapades of Suhitra, the young palace servant who tends the tigers. In the social order of the day, her status was barely above the slaves. The tale of her attraction for Surya, the son of a palace goldsmith, takes them both into dangerous realms amidst the lives of the palace elite and the commoners who serve them. The story winds through different time periods in the same locations, with surprising twists, bringing the people and places together across the centuries.
Especially interesting for anyone who has lived in Yogyakarta or studied Javanese culture, the book is rich with culture references and nuances explaining how the Javanese live, think, and approach life. With vivid descriptions, you feel at times like you're in the room and can smell the scents and are experiencing the ancient ceremonies and pastimes for yourself! The majority of the book is set in the 70s and the archaeologist characters bring the historical contexts to life. Hidden in the idyllic start of the story is an underside of palace life that endangers the couple, so be ready for a bit of the dark side of ancient life as the story winds through the impact of certain temple rituals. The book is a great read and you’ll learn a lot about Javanese mysticism too!
Japong Dancer by Patrick Sweeting - A sweeping tale of love, hate and moral corruption set against a backdrop of violent unrest in the post-independence struggle of the early 50s. We follow the story of Yahyu, a young Javanese immigrant to Sumatra, who makes one mistake that changes her life forever.
Throughout the story her beauty draws people to her and her skills as a classical Javanese dancer make her the envy of many. Yahyu’s search for security and protection from a host of dangers happens in a time when Indonesian society doesn’t have safety nets for women in trouble. Each time she runs away from the abuse of a man in her life, she lands in another untenable situation from which her problems continue to escalate.
The story touches on the themes of Javanese culture, the perils and joys of having a “belando” boyfriend, the political rebellion, migrant issues, and traditional forest dwelling tribes of the Sumatran rainforest. While the focus is on Yahyu's journey, the turbulence of the times weaves its way in and out of the tale. The various political groups, insurgents and those in power take advantage of unsuspecting innocent villagers for their own purposes. The armed struggle around her shadows her conflicts between good and bad, right and wrong, challenging her never to lose her moral compass.
The story is a great contrast between the ideals of purity and beauty and the ugliness of political turmoil and violence. Yahyu’s intrinsic sense of goodness and adherence to her cultural norms of womanhood saves her time and again. The story is one of lost innocence and complex moral dilemmas. Enjoy the surprising ending which brings the reader full circle in a most extraordinary way.
From Jarrow to Java: (on a beer scooter) by Joe Writeson. From Jarrow to Java (on a beer scooter) is an entertaining, humorous and cleverly observational book, by Joe Writeson, based on some of the unique characters and situations encountered during the course of a large construction project in East Java during a crucial time in Indonesia’s history. The cast includes all the usual suspects: Europeans, Australians, Americans, etc. but the starring roles are held by Indonesians. The timescale covers immediately before, during and after the downfall of the Soeharto regime. Centered around the building of an Independent Power Plant consisting of eight coal-fired power stations, distribution systems and extensive infrastructure, with over ten thousand employees at the height of construction activities. The account is based on the job and and it’s impact on the area, an introduction to Javanese customs and culture, interaction between expats and locals, including the often weird and wonderful way that Indonesians view foreigners, plus the way some Westerners behave when given the “keys to the sweetie shop”.
Night of the Water Spirits by Barbara Bisco. This intricately woven tale takes the reader through the lives of two young people who meet in Thailand as children. We watch their early friendship develop and grow throughout the years and their interactions with Thai culture and everyday encounters. Some taboos are meant to be broken is the subtitle, and a constant under plot throughout the story. The novel offers interesting insights into the lives of expatriates in Thailand and Indonesia and in particular, the study of Southeast Asian lizards and the Komodo Dragon. The drama is unending in the personal lives of Panida and Teddy as the story builds to its surprising climactic ending. Written by Jakarta expat Barbara Bisco!
Taste for Green Tangerines by Barbara Biscoe - A sizzling escape to a richly drawn other world, this is a book about finding yourself in the most unexpected of places Disillusioned with her London life, anthropologist Bethany Parker takes up a last minute offer to help build an eco resort in the Indonesian rainforest, trading cappuccinos, a lackluster boyfriend and her one bedroom flat for mosquito nets, longhouses and an international team of environmentalists. Thrust into a lush, colorful and sometimes brutal world of tribal traditions, erotic tensions and struggles between east and west, Bethany is forced to learn about herself as she learns about Borneo. Written by Jakarta expat Barbara Bisco.
The Spice Garden by Michael Vatikiotis - An incredible tale of the turbulent late '90s on a small island near Ambon. A fictional tale, based on true events, tells the story of the drastic changes to quiet idyllic island life with the onset of before unseen religious strife. The book is a very enjoyable read and full of insights into island life, small island politics, inter-religious affairs ,and the needs of a peaceful community to heal the wounds caused by outside agitators.
Jakarta Shadows by Alan Brayne - Set in today's tumultuous Indonesia, this thriller is a great read. Expats in Indonesia will find many insightful and entertaining references to life as we know it, with familiar landmarks and situations that expats find themselves drawn into.
Expat Community Publications:
Museum Nasional Guidebook - The Guidebook takes visitors on a walking tour through the 16 sections of the National Museum in Jakarta. Beautiful photographs of items in the collections as well as descriptions of the collections and selected artifacts. The Guidebook serves as a fascinating pictorial introduction to artifacts throughout Indonesia's history.
The Jakarta Explorer - This 372-page book is an indispensable guide to well-known and little-known historical and cultural sites in Jakarta, as well as many other hidden treasures of interest in the areas surrounding Jakarta. Compiled by the Indonesian Heritage Society's Explorers groups.
An Indonesian Alphabet - by Sue Potter. Using knowledge gathered over a 25-year stay in Indonesia, Sue's collection of informal insights and essays covers Indonesian topics from A-Z.
What's New Jakarta - e-newsletter with upcoming community events
Words & Phrases and A Jakarta Market are sold by AWA Publications
Indonesian Heritage Society Publications
Newspapers, Magazines and Newsletters
Indonesia Expat is a free bi-weekly publication aimed at the expatriate and English-speaking Indonesian community in Indonesia. They distribute 16,000 copies fortnightly all over Indonesia to apartments, embassies and companies, international sports clubs, international women's associations, high end cafes and restaurants, intercultural schools and many others. This publication is printed in full color on glossy paper and features well-known authors covering business, lifestyle and outreach in the archipelago.
Kabar Indonesia - Interesting articles on travel, people and culture in the archipelago.
Now Jakarta: Life in the Capital - monthly magazine covering new of restaurants, sports, music, movies, culture, shopping, travel and social issues in Jakarta.
The Jakarta Post - For decades, the Jakarta Post has provided the expatriate and English-reading Indonesian communities with excellent coverage of local, national and international events. The Jakarta Post is preferred by the majority of expatriates for its unbiased coverage of the news.
Tempo English Edition - Tempo is Indonesian investigative journalism at its best. The English version of this prestigious news weekly provides information on news and current events to expats and English-speaking people in the region. Since its establishment in 1971, Tempo has been known for its ground-breaking and objective news, risking all to maintain its editorial independence.
Jakarta Globe - English language newspaper with a focus on business reporting and news and life and times of Jakarta. Popular with the expatriate community.
Last updated Decmeber 30, 2022