Indonesia Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation
One in 30 of the people on this planet is Indonesian. The 13,000 islands of their homeland, scattered along the equator, stretch the distance from London to Tehran, and the residents of the capital, Jakarta, tweet more than those of any other city on the planet. By any standard, Indonesia is a global hub, one of the most dynamic and diverse countries of the 21st century. But you don't have to look far from metropolitan Jakarta to find poverty, superstition, ancient rituals and black magic. Travelling from volcanoes and jungles to reefs and snowy peaks, investigative reporter Elizabeth Pisani sets out to capture the real Indonesia. On the way she meets the Sultan of Jogjakarta, a former presidential candidate who keeps a posse of albino dwarfs in his court, visits one of the largest red light districts in Asia, joins protesters trying to ban Lady Gaga from their homeland, and takes tea with a recently deceased grandmother. Written with Pisani's trademark wit and brio, this is an entertaining and indispensable guide to a fascinating country we can't afford not to know more about.
ELIZABETH PISANI studied Chinese at Oxford before working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters, the Economist and the Asia Times. She has an MSc in Medical Demography and a PHD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology. She is the author of The Wisdom of Whores (Granta, 2008).