Our News in Pictures


Congratulations to author George Quinn, whose book “Bandit Saints of Java: How Java’s eccentric saints are challenging fundamentalist Islam in modern Indonesia” has just won the nonfiction award at the ACT book awards in Canberra, Australia.

2020 Nonfiction Award Winner George Quinn for Bandit Saints of Java (Monsoon Books)

Java’s pilgrimage culture is a dense, batik-like pattern of contradictions: seriousness collides with laughter; curiosity with bewilderment; piety with scepticism; intense spirituality with, in some places, the joy of shopping.

The pilgrimage culture on the island of Java in Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim country – is a rebuke to the conservative orthodoxy that has been gaining ground in Indonesia’s religious landscape since the 1980s. In the rhetoric of this orthodoxy the “real” Islam is pure and exclusive. Piety comes from obedience to religious authority and its rules. Local pilgrimage is anything but pure and exclusive or rigidly authoritarian. It is powerfully Islamic but it fuses Islam with local history, the ancient power of place and a pastiche of devotional practices with roots deep in the pre-Islamic past. Quietly but tenaciously – just outside the great echo chamber of public space – it is growing as fast as the higher profile neo-orthodoxy.

Bandit Saints of Java delves deep under the surface of modern Indonesia, exploring personalities and stories in the weird world of local pilgrimage, where Middle Eastern Islam wrestles with the ancient power of Javanese civilisation. It paints an astonishing portrait of Islam as it is practised today – largely invisible to journalists, scholars and tourists – by many of Java’s 130 million people.

#monsoonbooks #indonesia #java #islam #islamindonesia #nonfiction #awardwinning #australia

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Posted @withregram • @gerakbudayabookshop A RIDDLE WRAPPED IN AN ENIGMA: FREE BOOKS

It bears repeating that the past nine months have not been kind to the book trade. But amid the closures, redundancies, heartache, there have also been acts of kindness, of solidarity. So we are able to make a very special offer thanks to the generosity of Leslie Lim of Pansing, one of our enduring supporters, and Phil Tatham, publisher at @monsoonbooks. They have gifted us thirty mystery packages – books wrapped neatly in old copies of Mekong Review. We have no idea what each package contains.

➽ So here's the deal: spend RM100 in the bookshop or through an online order and you get a FREE book package. Can't say fairer than that.

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Good to see @booksactually is up and running in it’s new home and is selling Singapore author Rosie Milne’s two works of fiction set in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia: “Olivia & Sophia” (fictionalised diaries of Raffles’ two wives) and “Circumstance” (historical romance with a twist). Both make great Xmas presents! Posted @withregram • @kenny.leck WWW.BOOKSACTUALLYSHOP.COM ...

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In post-WWII Laos, Vietnamese communists secretly commence to infiltrate the kingdom. They are countered by four dedicated Lao ‘moles’ who try to thwart these aims. Gurkha Colonel Jason Rance is unwittingly dragged into a confrontation between one of the Lao moles and a Thai spy and the mole gives him a ring as a reward for saving his life. During his appointment in Laos as military attaché, Rance becomes a target of the KGB and of the Vietnamese communists, and is sought by the remaining three Lao moles because of the ring in his possession.
Rance’s two Lao language instructors are nieces of the Lao king and London hopes that, by stealth, Rance might, through them, persuade the king delay his coronation no further in an effort to prevent the spread of communism southwards. Can the new military attaché manage to do the seemingly impossible?
Based on historical fact and the author’s personal experience, Operation Stealth is the fourth in a series of books involving Gurkha military units that may be read in any order and includes Operation Black Rose, Operation Janus, Operation Blind Spot and Operation Four Rings. The author, JP Cross, a much revered retired Gurkha colonel, draws on real characters and events he witnessed across various theatres of war.
Available from leading bookstores. #monsoonbooks #militaryfiction #laos #vietnam #vietnamwar

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Makcik Maryam once again investigates murder in a small Kelantan town. Someone has been killed at a top-spinning contest, hit by a gasing, a heavy metal spinning top, that had no business flying as it did according to all laws of physics. Malaysia’s most famous female amateur sleuth suspects not only foul play, but black magic, and is determined to rid Kelantan of the source of evil. Join Makcik Maryam in her fifth adventure assisting the Kota Bharu Police Department, or vice versa, in “Spinning Top”, the latest in the award-winning Kain Songket Mysteries series. Available from leading bookstores. #kelantan #kotabharu #malaysia #malaysianliterature #detectivefiction ...

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Head over to the Singapore Writers Festival bookstore to watch an interview with Professor John D. Greenwood, author of newly released “Hungry Ghosts”, volume 3 in the Singapore Saga, a series of historical fiction that spans the first 100 years of Singapore. #swf2020 #monsoonbooks ...

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Posted @withregram • @booksandlibri #readingtheworld 25. 🇧🇳Brunei Darussalam
K. H. Lim, Written in Black
Jonathan's grandfather is dead and the whole family reunites to celebrate the traditional Chinese funeral rites. The shock and the contrasts with the cousins, aunts and uncles, are the last drops for the young boy's already shaken mind. His mother has gone away and doesn't want to speak to him and his brother was kicked out of home and is now living with a rockband! He has to flee to find him and thus talk to her. And grandpa's coffin seems the only way to do it.

#leggereilmondo 25. 🇧🇳Brunei Darussalam
K. H. Lim, *Scritto in nero*
Il nonno di Jonathan è morto e tutta la famiglia si riunisce per celebrare i tradizionali riti funebri cinesi. Ma lo shock e i contrasti con i cugini, zie e zii, sono le fatidiche gocce che fanno traboccare il vaso per la mente già scossa del bambino. Sua madre se n'è andata e non vuole parlargli, mentre suo fratello è stato cacciato di casa e ora vive con un gruppo rock! Jonathan deve fuggire per trovarlo e così riuscire parlare con la mamma. E la bara del nonno sembra l'unico modo per farlo.


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Posted @withregram • @ns510reads #AseanMonthLSBC week 1 // 📚 A bit late to the party but here’s a stack of Southeast Asian literature to celebrate ASEAN month! A mix of books I’ve read and some on the tbr, by writers within the region and across the diaspora
I’m currently reading THE MOUNTAINS SING by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai and really enjoying it. Looking forward to new recs throughout the month! Any must-reads/faves you’d recommend? Recommendations gratefully accepted! ❤️

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Visit “Asian Review of Books” to read Peter Gordon’s review of Sue Paul’s “Jeopardy of Every Wind: The biography of Captain Thomas Bowrey”.

Review excerpt:
“Thomas Bowrey left London for India as a child in 1688; his father had died of the plague in 1665, a tragedy compounded by the Great Fire the next year. Shipping him off to India was not the worst thing a mother could do in such circumstances. Bowrey arrived in Fort St George, Madras after the New Year, by then the ripe old age of nine.

“Bowrey stayed in Asia for the next two decades, gradually becoming a successful, albeit not hugely successful, independent trader, running goods between India and various parts of Southeast Asia. He returned to London, married, and promptly set himself up in business. Bowrey’s main claim to fame is not, however, his business ventures but rather the English-Malay dictionary he published in 1701, that and the fact he apparently made the first English-language reference to the recreational use of cannabis.”

“Jeopardy of Every Wind: The biography of Captain Thomas Bowrey” by Sue Paul is available from leading bookstores in the UK and will be released in SE Asia, Australia and USA in October.

#monsoonbooks #dollarbirdbooks #singapore #biography #india #malaysia #malaylanguage #travelogue #asianreviewofbooks

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‪‘A Yellow House’ by Karien van Ditzhuijzen opens a window to the lives of Indonesian domestic workers in Singapore, says Desca Angelianawati in The Jakarta Post https://tinyurl.com/y9p7p6y7‬ #thejakartapost #indonesia #singapore #modernslavery ...

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Posted @withregram • @limcaco_books A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany: I should stop spending more than an hour on a book that doesn’t greatly delight, tickle, or titillate me. Life is precious and Cov*d could snatch it away like it’s nothing (human life IS nothing, if Sapiens author Yuval Noah Harari is to be believed 🥺). With that epiphany moment in mind, I didn’t think I should finish this novel... but I did. I just needed to get past 100 pages to realize that the coming-of-age tale of a straight guy navigating life in a ‘pesantren’ (low-cost housing for Muslim students) among the company of linguistically inventive hairdressers is worth my short time on earth. It’s like Catcher in the Rye but if Holden were a poor Indonesian school boy who works part-time as a briefs-clad angel waiter. If you really think about it, it’s not at all like Catcher in the Rye. In conclusion, I enjoyed reading this. ...

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Mixed emotions as work from home ends and we return to the office #monsoonbooks ...

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Monsoon Books is pleased to announce the sale of the TV/film option in Nigel Barley’s “Island of Demons”, a historical novel set in 1930s Bali, Indonesia, based on the life of Walter Spies, ethnographer, choreographer, film maker, natural historian and painter #monsoonbooks #historicalfiction #bali #baliindonesia #indonesia #ubud #ubudlife #walterspieshouse #walterspies #bookstoscreen ...

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During lockdown, Monsoon Books’ office landlord has created a number of walks around the business park to encourage healthy living. Feeling blessed to work in the fresh air of the countryside (and only 60 mins from London by train). #monsoonbooks ...

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Happy Birthday Lt Col JP Cross, author of Gurkha military fiction set in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Burma and India. Retired frontier soldier, jungle fighter and military attaché, JP Cross fought in Burma, Indo-China, Malaya and Borneo and served in India, Pakistan, HK, Laos and Nepal. Author of 20 books including “Operation Janus”, “Operation Blind Spot”, “Operation Black Rose” and forthcoming “Operation Stealth” #monsoonbooks #militaryfiction #historicalfiction #malaysia #gurkha #burma #indonesia #borneo #singapore ...

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