Jamie James's latest novel, The Java Man, is an acerbic, often hilarious satire in the tradition of Evelyn Waugh and Jonathan Franzen. The Java Man tells the story of Noor, a picaresque Indonesian poet who comes to England on a fellowship, where he wreaks emotional havoc among the inhabitants of a secluded country village. The book is set in present-day England, Singapore, and Indonesia.
The Java Man is James's second novel and launched in conjunction with the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival October 11-17, 2004. His first novel, Andrew & Joey: A Tale of Bali, about a pair of gay American men in Bali, garnered widespread critical acclaim when it was published in 2002.
The Java Man
For more than a hundred years, nothing has changed at Thistlethwaite, a gloomy old mansion in rural northwest England that shelters a society of poets and scholars with lots of money at their disposal, but little common sense.
Then a mysterious stranger, a poet from Java who has won a fellowship from the society, arrives in their midst. Noor brings with him healing potions, a magic kris, and a bawdy ancient epic – fascinating glimpses of a world utterly unknown to the innocent inhabitants of Thistlethwaite. One by one they fall under Noor's spell, especially Tildy, the society's 60-year-old director who thought she had learned to live without love. When a scandal threatens to shut down Thistlethwaite forever, Noor comes to the rescue, leading a merry chase that careens from a ruined castle in the wilds of England, to the luxurious watering holes of Singapore, to a chaotic household in Yogyakarta.
The Java Man, Jamie James's second novel, is a witty, entertaining, deeply compassionate study of miscommunication across the cultural divide, the dangerous limitations of book learning – and the healing power of love.
When the Indonesian edition of Andrew & Joey was published, the Asian press was equally impressed. Brian Bennett wrote in Time Asia, "Jamie James's first novel, Andrew and Joey: A Tale of Bali," paints a vivid portrait of paradise, and shows how sour things can turn, through 365 days of breathless, gossipy e-mail exchanges. Quick and pleasurable to read, the novel provides a strangely haunting glimpse into the world of exquisite illusions that Bali was until so recently." In Tempo, Indonesia's leading news weekly, Dewi Anggrani wrote, "James's first work of fiction, a touching story about an American gay couple against a Balinese backdrop, has come off exceptionally well. Andrew & Joey should be read: its human quality reaches and touches the reader's emotional core."
Jamie James is also the author of six nonfiction books including The Music of the Spheres: Music, Science, and the Natural Order of the Universe, which The New Yorker called "graceful and entertaining," and Pop Art.
Jamie James was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He has lived full-time in Indonesia since 1999; prior to that he lived in New York City, where he contributed to major newspapers and magazines. As a literary critic, his work has been published by The New Yorker, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Time Asia. His travel writing appears regularly in The Atlantic Monthly and Condé Nast Traveler. James was art critic for The New Yorker from 1995 to 1999. He lives in Seminyak, Bali, where he and his partner own and manage a restaurant.
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