The Year of Living Dangerously
Christopher J Koch
"Jakarta: 1965. Waiting for explosions. The city smells of frangipani, Kretek cigarettes, and fear. It is The Year of Living Dangerously.
"The charismatic god-king Sukarno has brought Indonesia to the edge of chaos - to an abortive revolution that will leave half a million dead. For the Western correspondents here, this gathering apocalypse is their story and their drug, while the sufferings of the Indonesian people are scarcely real: a shadow play.
"Working at the edge of the storm are television correspondent Guy Hamilton and his eccentric dwarf cameraman Billy Kwan. In Kwan's secret fantasy life, both Sukarno and Hamilton are heroes. But his heroes betray him, and Billy is driven to desperate action. As the Indonesian shadow play erupts into terrible reality, a complex personal tragedy of love, obsession and betrayal comes to its climax."
"A profound and beautiful book" - Les Murray, The Sydney Morning Herald
"A richly and fully realised work of fiction, well conceived and beautifully executed." - Larry McMurty
"A strong sense of timeless Javanese atmosphere." - The Guardian
"Intelligent, compassionate, flavoursome, convincing...this book is to be prized...Billy Kwan is one of the most memorable characters of recent fiction." - Anthony Burgess
First Paragraph:There is no way, unless you have unusual self-control, of disguising the expression on your face when you first meet a dwarf. It brings out the curious child in us to encounter one of these little people. Since Billy Kwan added to his oddity by being half Chinese, it was just as well that we met in the darkness of the Wayang Bar. My attention was drawn to Kwan's arrival by Wally O'Sullivan, a correspondent for a Sydney daily.
From the Vintage paperback edition, 1998.
This novel won the "Age" Book of the Year Award.
In 1982, Peter Weir directed a film adaptation of this novel, under the same name, featuring Mel Gibson, Linda Hunt and Sigourney Weaver, from a script by Weir, Koch and David Williamson. Hunt won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, becoming the first an only actor to win such an award by playing a member of the opposite sex.
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Last modified: January 5, 2007.