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Ten Great Books set in BALI

14th September 2021

Bali is the latest destination we have chosen to visit in our ‘Ten Great Books set in…’ series. Ten Great Books set in Bali. Bali is an Indonesian island known for its forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs. The town of Ubud, in the uplands of Bali is known as a centre for traditional crafts and dance. The surrounding District’s rainforest and terraced rice paddies, dotted with Hindu temples and shrines, are among Bali’s most famous landscapes. . The island is home to religious sites such as cliffside Uluwatu Temple

Life, religion, and art all converge in Bali. They have no word in their language for ‘artist’ or ‘art.’ Everyone is an artist. – Anais Nin

Ten Great Books set in Ubud / BaliBali Daze by Cat Wheeler

Beyond beaches and backpackers, spas and five star hotels is a Bali seldom revealed to the casual visitor. Bali Daze tips the reader off the tourist trail as long-term resident Cat Wheeler hurtles into the fascinating, complex and often bewildering adventure of putting down roots in Ubud.

A Little Bit One O’clock by William Ingram

This book has, in its own way, garnered a bit of a cult following.

It is an intelligent and light hearted account of one couple living within the bosom of a Balinese family. It really offers little insights into culture and mores and beautifully renders everyday life on the island. A delight set of stories and observations.

Ten Great Books set in Ubud / BaliThe Paradise Guest House by Ellen Sussman

A riveting and poignant novel of one woman’s journey to Bali in search of love, renewal, and a place to call home-perfect for readers of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and Alex Garland’s The Beach.

It starts as a trip to paradise. Sent on assignment to Bali, Jamie, an American adventure guide, imagines spending weeks exploring the island’s lush jungles and pristine white sand beaches. Yet three days after her arrival, she is caught in Bali’s infamous nightclub bombings, which irreparably change her life and leave her with many unanswered questions.

One year later, haunted by memories, Jamie returns to Bali seeking a sense of closure. Most of all, she hopes to find Gabe, the man who saved her from the attacks. She hasn’t been able to forget his kindness-or the spark between them as he helped her heal. Checking into a cozy guest house for her stay, Jamie meets the kindly owner, who is coping with a painful past of his own, and a young boy who improbably becomes crucial to her search. Jamie has never shied away from a challenge, but a second chance with Gabe presents her with the biggest dilemma of all: whether she’s ready to open her heart.

A Tale from Bali by Vicky Baum

This book is recommended as a way of getting to know a little about the history and culture of Bali. Not only does it succeed in this, but it also proved a heart-warming and hugely readable story of one man’s day to day struggles against a backdrop of profound change.

The novel is a loose retelling of the chain of events leading up to the Dutch suppression of Bali towards the end of the 19th century. At the time of the story, most of the feudal lords, or ‘radjas’, have already signed treaties with the Dutch and are effectively under their control. Only a few remain independent, preserving their traditions and refusing to bow to western imperialism.

Ten Great Books set in Ubud / BaliBalilicious by Becky Wicks

A lot can happen when you set out to “find yourself”. Sometimes, you can even lose the plot.

From visiting ancient healers with cellphone addictions to leaving a shaking ashram intent on extracting her soul, Becky Wicks soon discovered that six months travelling round Bali wasn?t all going to be about finding inner peace and harmony. In fact, the perils of possessed teens, eating raw, yogic headstands, diving shipwrecks and dicing with black magic and demons all took their toll on the Island of the Gods.
And that was before the vaginal steaming.

A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul by Shamini Flint

Inspector Singh is back, but this time working out of Bali. A bomb has exploded and Singh has been sent to help with anti-terrorism efforts. But there’s a slight problem: he knows zero about hunting terrorists. He’s much better suited to solving murder!

So when a body is discovered in the wreckage, killed by a bullet before the bomb went off, Singh should be the one to find the answers – especially with the help of a wily Australian copper by his side. But simple murders are never as simple as they seem – and this one has far-reaching global consequences…

Sustenance by Simone Lazaroo

The Elsewhere Hotel in Bali has the ‘Bali’ lifestyle – exotic, pool, palms, views,everything a holiday dream should be. And the tourist who congregate are all looking to ‘Find Yourself’ the strapline of the hotel., Perpetua de Mello extolls her mother’s wisdom with her own diverse heritage and prepares beautiful meals for her guests. But Paradise has a dark side…

A Patch of Paradise by Gaia Grant

The desire to leave stressful city life behind and move to a tropical island is, for most, just a dream. Gaia Grant decided to turn that dream into a reality. Packing up her family and travelling through Asia – overland by train through India, climbing mountain peaks in Nepal with her toddler in a backpack, she eventually found an idyllic setting in Bali. But this was only the beginning of an exciting adventure for Gaia and her family.
In A Patch of Paradise, Gaia discovers the many sides of paradise. She shares her experiences of gradually being drawn into the exotic heart of Bali, before discovering the anguish and heartache of living in a country in turmoil. The island’s vibrant culture and unique community lifestyle provides a peaceful retreat, but even paradise cannot escape the pain.
The book describes how Gaia and her husband embark on the challenge of finding and setting up a home in a thatched beach hut in a Balinese village, and how they learn the importance of finding enjoyment in simple pleasures, of giving and receiving in equal measure. Gaia is able to draw readers into the daily delights and challenges of island life – as well as the trials of living and working in a country in dramatic transition – with both humour and sensitivity. By providing an inspiring personal perspective, the rewards of following dreams with a determined spirit and an open heart are revealed.
Seven years after arriving on the island she and her husband ran a highly successful international business from the same thatched hut they found when they arrived.

Earth Dance by Oka Rusmini

Earth Dance, the story of four generations of Balinese women, centers on conflicts that arise between the demands of caste and personal desires. Narrated by Ida Ayu Telaga, a Balinese woman in her thirties, the novel shows Balinese women-as depicted by her mother, grandmother and female peers-to be motivated by two factors: the yearning to be beautiful, and the desire for a high-caste husband.

Headstrong Telaga defies her mother’s wishes and marries the man of her dreams, who is a commoner. Thus, in a reversal of societal expectations, as shown in the novel by images of women who aspire to “liberation” through “marrying up”, Telaga’s emancipation is implicitly characterized as a move downwards, through transformation to the status of a commoner.

Earth Dance also reveals that-like high-caste status-beauty, too, has a price. Behind the thick, glossy hair and golden complexion, lies a web of jealousy, derision and intrigue. Telaga, whose life is controlled by her mother’s avarice, her mother-in-law’s bitterness and the greed of her sister-in-law, has frequent cause to wonder: “Is this what it means to be a woman?”

Island Secrets by Alwin Blum

Beyond the Bali known from idyllic images of Hollywood movies and five-star resort holidays are the secret lives of men and women who flock to the island from around the world in search of new beginnings. Not all find the bliss and peace they hope for. Island Secrets is a collection of stories about lives fraught with scandal, conflict, heartache and despair. A western wife of a Balinese man enjoys a happy marriage and all the trappings of island wealth but the arrival of a man from home throws her life into turmoil as she surrenders to his seduction. A successful middle-aged ad exec leaves his family to become an artist; he lives an enviable life with a beautiful woman half his age but he soon finds himself weary of paradise. A recently divorced woman goes on a solo holiday and is irresistibly drawn to an attractive young man of dubious intentions. Bali-resident Alwin Blum offers up vignettes of Bali with characters who navigate their new lives in the sunshine and tropical splendour of the island while harbouring darkness within. Some stay for a season, others for the rest of their days. Some come to forget through sensual escapades, while others re-invent themselves to fit with the brand-new lives they have created.

Enjoy your  Bali reading. Any additions or comments in the box below, please!

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021