The Best of Stranger in Paradise 1996-2008

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Title
The Best of Stranger in Paradise 1996-2008
Original language
English
Author(s)
Illustrator(s)
    Publisher
    Wijaya Words
    ISBN
    978-979-95003-1-1
    Publication date
    2009
    Subjects
    • Culture
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                      Description(s)

                      The Best of Stranger in Paradise 1996-2008, launched at Warung Enak in Pengosekan in January 2009, is a collection of the crème de la crème of his opinionated, irreverent and often startlingly original columns such as “Wham Bham Thankyou, Nyoman,” “Carry on Kuta,” and “Ocean Views are Overrated,” covering a pivotal 12-year period in the social and political evolution of modern Bali. During this span of time the author witnessed the tumultuous reformasi era, the rise of the Hindu vigilantes, the Bali bombings, the growth of gay Seminyak, the flamboyant 2004 elections, a burgeoning real estate industry, the birth of Super Bule personalities such as Peter Watts (Project Manager of the Four Seasons) and the advent of Bule Aga culture experts Diana Darling and Jean Couteau. This voluble and versatile penman can hold forth with equal facility on the follies and hypocrisy of the media, the degradation of Bali’s environment and spiritual sanctuaries, the crass commercialization of the island’s ceremonies and dances, the niceties of Balinese court customs, minimalist architecture, arcane Indian philosophy, etymological derivations of Indonesian language usage, contemporary fashion and apparel, the proliferation of Bali’s boy bands, as well as more mundane subjects as security measures, airplane etiquette and terrorist executions. This update of Made’s previously published The Complete Stranger in Paradise 1979-1981 is essentially a selection of the author’s columns released to the public in the intervening years. Such compilations are significant benchmarks in a literary career because they show that the writer’s work has reached such a volume that there continues to be a high demand for it. Made Wijaya’s writing at its finest is charged with a heady mix of wit, erudition and eloquent acerbity. He is unabashedly romantic, hedonistic, sensual. His sense for detail – colors, sounds, movement, fragrances – is vivid, often bordering on hallucinogenic. The language is resonant with self-confidence and authority, revealing a man comfortable in his own skin, even as he openly admits to adopting a Balinese feudal approach to business management. Few journalistic voices in Indonesia are so laden with righteous outrage and a captivating intimacy at the same time. These diary entries are an insider’s view of Bali’s cultural sinews and maddeningly complex social hierarchal structures. Besides giving pleasure as a lively read, the book is as well a bibliophile’s collector’s item which must have cost a king’s ransom to produce. Its 373 glossy color pages are crammed with hundreds of eye-popping images, quirky illustrations with dialog balloons, comical and bizarre montages, vintage photos of Balinese royalty, lavish funeral and cremation rituals, candid shots of fashion models and lifestyle icons, captioned line art, as well as a generous number of images of himself as befits this iconic contemporary figure and internationally recognized authority on all matters Balinese.

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