Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

INDONESIA ETC: Exploring the Improbable Nation by Elizabeth Pisani

  • Written by  Sophie Ibbotson
  • Published in Books
INDONESIA ETC: Exploring the Improbable Nation by Elizabeth Pisani
01 Aug
2014
Carefully selected from Pisani's years living and working in Indonesia, and also her more recent travels, the characters that populate Indonesia Etc are diverse and vividly described, fittingly for what she describes as ‘this kaleidoscope nation’

Elizabeth Pisani has had two career incarnations: as a foreign correspondent for Reuters and the Economist, and as an epidemiologist. Her experiences in Indonesia form the backbone of a travelogue, national biography, and eulogy; to diverse, but disappearing, ways of life. The prologue offers a taster of the eclectic mix – a brigadier general who tells stories of a magic dagger is juxtaposed with transgender prostitutes and tattooed junkies – but it’s in the later chapters that each figure is fully fleshed out. Readers will soon feel personally acquainted with the likes of Big Man, Pudding Faced Grandma and the Representatives of Christ’s Kingdom.

Each of the 13 chapters discusses a different issue affecting the country, situating each confidently in its historical context. Certain themes – the artificiality of a single Indonesian identity; corruption; the people’s resilience – are common threads, but Pisani examines them sensitively and from multiple angles.

Pisani claims to have ‘trekked 21,000 kilometres by motorbike, bus and boat, and covered another 20,000 kilometres by plane’ during her most recent stint in Indonesia, and this underlines her commitment to the country and to her research. There are, no doubt, more detailed, academic accounts of the country’s recent history and its myriad current challenges, but few are more accessible and entertaining than Indonesia Etc.

INDONESIA ETC: Exploring the Improbable Nation by Elizabeth Pisani, Granta Books, £18.99

Subscribe to Geographical!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Exhibitions

Paris is home to Europe’s largest science museum. Its latest…

Books

by Richard Wrangham • Profile Books  • £25 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Yasha Levine • Icon Books • £14.99 (paperback)

Books

by Matthew Carr • Hurst • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Seamus O’Brien • Kew Publishing • £40 (hardback)

Books

by Simon Jenkins • Viking • £25 (hardback)

Films

A harrowing and honest portrayal of the working life of…

Films

One man’s recreation of an epic 1930s survival experience deep…

Books

by Tom Harper • The British Library • £30 (hardback)

Books

by Susan Schulten • The British Library • £30 (hardback)

Books

by Ben & Marina Fogle • William Collins • £20 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Tim Flannery • Allen Lane • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Keith Wilson • £40 (hardback)

Books

by Gaston Dorren • Profile Books • £14.99 (hardback)

Books

by William A. Ewing and Holly Roussell • Thames and…

Books

by Ben Coates • Nicholas Brealey Publishing • £12.99 (paperback)

Books

by Nicholas Crane • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £12.99 (hardback)

Books

by Mary Robinson • Bloomsbury • £16.99 (hardback)

Books

by Pieter van der Merwe and Jeremy Michell • Bloomsbury • £18.99…