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Jaipong Dancer: A sweeping story of love, hate and moral corruption set against a backdrop of political unrest in Indonesia Paperback – September 16, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Monsoon Books Pte. Ltd. (September 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9814358738
  • ISBN-13: 978-9814358736
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,803,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By sam k on July 10, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Patrick Sweeting has lived in Indonesia for many years, working mainly for Oxfam and the United Nations, trying to make Indonesia a safer and better place. I heard him speaking on radio about his life, and it has been amazing. He even lived in a remote village in Sumatra for a couple of years, learning about traditional life.

Reading Jaipong Dancer, I started to get a sense of what that must have been like. For a young Englishman to be so far from home, and in an incredibly different world (I can only imagine what Indonesia was like 30 or 40 years ago) - it must have felt so alien. Yet when he writes about the village that his young protagonist, Yahyu, comes from, and another that she stays in for several weeks, the feeling in the words is gentle and warm. People are decent, life is simple, family is everything. I get the impression Sweeting loved his time in that village, despite its isolation.

Yahyu's young life has been quite sheltered, though she is a beautiful girl and has become the best dancer in her school of traditional Javanese dance. It appears she will rise above village life and enjoy a future which nobody in her family has ever known. However, seduced by a foreign man who tells her he loves her and leaves her pregnant, her fate is not her own - her father decides to marry her off to an old man she cannot abide. She runs away and takes refuge in the thick, dark Sumatran forest.

The forest scenes are probably the parts I enjoyed most in this novel. Although Yahyu is hungry and often frightened in the forest (she is scared of the dark and the noises in the night terrify her), this is where, to me, she is safest.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By hbphd on August 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As someone who lives in Indonesia and is somewhat familiar with Sumatran culture, I was intrigued by this book. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.

First, the writing is very clunky. I've read TONS of historical fiction for comparison. Most flows much better and reads as more authentic. Unfortunately, this did not.

I was empathetic for the main characters to a point, but the resolutions just seemed too "easy."

It seemed like the author did his research. This is a complex topic full of cultural nuances, even within the Indonesian culture. In that sense, i felt like I learned something.

Overall, like I said, I was disappointed. I have searched for books that better explore this diverse culture, its complexities, struggles, and themes. Unfortunately, they are few and far between.
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