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The Indonesian Voyage of Arthur Rimbaud

‘Rimbaud in Java, the Last Voyage’ the Latest Book by Bali-Based Author Jamie James Launched at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival


At a book launch held in conjunction with the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Bali-based author Jamie James premiered Rimbaud in Java: The Lost Voyage - a unique and refreshing non-fiction account of the fabled French poet’s time on the Indonesian island.

Click Images to Enlarge

Rimbaud in Java began life as a novel but James despaired of ever writing believable dialogue for the unpredictable genius. Instead, the author has produced a 128-page book that defies conventional classification, proffering a rich blend of biography, criticism and thought-travel. James reviews everything that is known about Arthur Rimbaud’s time in Java and imaginatively reconstructs what the poet must have seen and what he might have done, vividly recreating life in 19th-century Java along the way.

The launch of the book is the culmination of nearly a decade of research and writing for the novelist and critic, Jamie James, who says Rimbaud’s poetry has been a huge influence for him since childhood. “I’ve been fascinated by Arthur Rimbaud since I was a high-school student in Houston, Texas. His poems opened doors of perception that gave me access to the great world beyond my suburban cul-de-sac.”

The owner of Editions Didier Millet (EDM), Didier Millet, said of the publication, “As soon as I heard Jamie’s plans for the book, I) was eager to publish what sounded like an extremely interesting proposition. I am pleased that the final product has even exceeded my expectations.”

Eminent critics in the literary world have been quick to praise the ingenuity of James’ efforts. Zadie Smith, in her final New Books column in Harper’s, lauded the book’s style and content, even suggesting it may belong to a new genre in itself: “…a high wire performance…The book shines a torch down the well of the nineteenth century and illuminates a little patch on an inner wall near the bottom… Microhistory? If it’s the beginning of a trend, I won’t complain.” Edmund White commented, "I loved every page of it. I now have clear images of Rimbaud in Java. Jamie James is a very interesting writer at every moment"; whilst Jan McGirk wrote in the Huffington Post, “…an intriguing new book about this wild-child poet that leaps boundaries.”

Rimbaud in Java: The Lost Voyage is Jamie James’ eighth book. His other works include The Snake Charmer; Andrew & Joey: A Tale of Bali; The Music of the Spheres: Music, Science, and the Natural Order of the Universe; Other Origins: The Search for the Giant Ape in Human Prehistory; and Eccentrics: A Study in Sanity and Strangeness.

Prior to moving to Bali in 1999, James worked as a critic for The New Yorker. He contributes to many leading publications, including The New Yorker, Men's Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, and major newspapers such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

Rimbaud in Java: The Lost Voyage costs US$14.95 and is available in stores across Southeast Asia now.

The book will soon be available in the US and UK from mid-October. ISBN 9789814260824.

The book is also available in e-book format at [

[Rimbaud in Java: The Lost Voyage

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