I’ve got a guest-post up on Jeff Vandermeer’s blog, Letter from Jakarta & Cloud Permutations Release, where I talk about the book situation in Jakarta, e-book readers, the release of Cloud Permutations, bilingual jokes and some of the difficulties of defining an Other in Bislama.
I’m late to the guest-blogging season this time around, but I have an excuse – I’m currently writing two novels and a novella back-to-back, which gives you an idea of how absent my social life is at the moment. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m spending a couple of months in Jakarta – if you haven’t been, don’t. Someone should probably write a paper on The City as One Giant Traffic Jam, or maybe that’s China’s sequel to The City and the City. In any case, here I am. The question is, will I ever be able to get out?
It’s kind of a depressing city, book-wise. The few bookstores have a remarkable lack of novels, in either English or Bahasa. There arebooks – technical manuals, self-help guides, that sort of thing. Young adult fantasy seems to be the only type of novel widely available, though that appears to be mainly translations from English.
To find real Indonesian books one has to go to one of the second hand book markets – the bursa buku – where you’d find some wonderful Indonesian pulp novels (at least, they have wonderful pulp covers) and a lot of comics, but where the English novels seem to be composed entirely of ex-pat reading material, which is in turn made up pretty much by Jackie Collins’ back-catalogue.
I knew I should have bought that e-book reader before I left. – continue reading.