Under its Godown imprint, Lontar produces books that were written originally in English about Indonesia. These might be novels, collections of poetry, books on Indonesia culture, or a multitude of subjects.
John A McGlynn’s favorite motto was “never let the truth get in the way of a good lie.” But as revealed in his imaginative tales of travels to Mexico, Indonesia, and other exotic ports of call,
it is often in fantasy that the truth is found. Populated with characters Mark Twain would have appreciated, McGlynn’s stories are those of a modern-day everyman and are as recognizable to an American as they would be to an Indonesian about the common nature of men.
Set in Bali, this novel presents a fascinating picture of the collision between Western gay men and Balinese culture. When Joey Breaux, a choreographer from New York, wins a grant to study in Bali, he believes that the experience will rejuvenate his relationship with his boyfriend, Andrew. Instead, their lives are turned upside down as a result of cultural ignorance and arrogance.
At the time of the construction of the Borobudur in the ninth century, Buddhism had been established in Java for several centuries. Jennifer Mackenzie’s Borobodur, an exquisite long poem, tells the story of its legendary architect, Gunavarman, and of Indonesia’s mystical monument with cultural understanding, sensitivity, and great feeling. Like Gunavarman by the poem’s end, Mackenzie becomes a “dot on the horizon” leaving us stilled in silence
Indonesia is a seductive place. Its people are among the most hospitable on the planet; it is rich beyond telling in languages, cultures and landscapes and it heaves with gold, nickel, spices, fish stocks. Indonesia is also a well-spring of patronage, corruption and bureaucratic incompetence; its schools are a shambles, its legal system a disgrace. Elizabeth Pisani—journalist turned scientist turned analyst-of-all-trades—describes Indonesia as a giant Bad Boyfriend, charming and maddening in equal parts. She has been in thrall to the country since first working in Indonesia over two decades ago, and keeps coming back for more.
In 1945, Indonesian nationalists Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaimed: “We, the people of Indonesia, hereby declare the independence of Indonesia. Matters relating to the transfer of power etc. will be executed carefully and as soon as possible.” Nearly seven decades later, Pisani set out to rediscover Indonesia in the age of its latest “Etc”: decentralisation. She spent over a year travelling 21,000 kilometres by motorbike, bus and boat, and covering another 20,000 kilometres by plane. She stayed with fishermen and farmers, bus drivers and nurses, teachers and nomads. Out of a palette that includes a sound knowledge of history, years of close observation and a healthy sense of the absurd, she paints a clear-eyed but ultimately affectionate portrait of the nation.
Indonesia Etc. is also available as an E-Book and in enhanced E-book format. The enhanced version contains numerous photographs, and multiple slideshows and video recordings of priests chanting by moonlight, letters to Elizabeth from Generals and rebels and lots of other fun stuff. (Note: It will work best on an iPad.)
E-Book is available here
Lombok is now most well-known in the West as the site of a disastrous earthquake, which, in late 2018, brought havoc to the province, including the island of Gili Trawangan. In this murder mystery, Arthur Pelham, a British anthropologist, and his colleagues who have just arrived in Gili Trawangan, become caught up in a spiralling intrigue. In one encounter, they are offered an expensive watch, apparently found on the beach by a pearl seller. The find of the watch is quickly followed by the discovery of a dead body, and Pelham realises that there is more to island life than sea, sand and all-night parties.
S Ann Dunham’s Surviving Against the Odds bears witness to her knowledge of and affection for Indonesia. By the mid1980s, Dunham had begun to see the audience for her work as made up of not just academics, but also Indonesians, aid workers, and foreign analysts whose findings affect the lives of ordinary Indonesians. Rather than going with the academic flow, Dunham stayed true to a research program, all in an effort to speak the truth about power and policy making.
A fast-paced, intensely emotional drama of Indonesian life high and low, set against the tumultuous backdrop of the reformasi era after the fall of Suharto in 1999, The Painter of Lost Souls is the story of Sito, a brilliantly gifted artist who leaves his home in a poor village in Central Java to make his name and his fortune in the royal city of Jogjakarta.
This suspenseful tale weaves together a fascinating inside view of the art boom in Indonesia and the nation’s political ferment in the twenty-first century, haunted by ghosts of the nation’s bloody past.
This book offers a compelling view of sexual and gender differences through the everyday lives of tombois and their girlfriends (“femmes”). Through rich, in-depth, and provocative stories, author Evelyn Blackwood shows how these same-sex Indonesian couples negotiate their transgressive identities and desires, and how their experiences speak to the struggles and desires of sexual and gender minorities everywhere.