A Shadow Falls: In the Heart of Java

Andrew Beatty

A Shadow Falls: In the Heart of Java

Andrew Beatty lived with his family for two and a half years in a village in East Java. When he arrived, he was entranced by a strange and sensual way of life, an unusual tolerance of diversity. Mysticism, Islamic piety and animism co-existed peacefully; the ancient traditions of the shadow play, of spirit beliefs and were-tigers seemed set to endure. Java appeared a model for our strife-ridden world, a recipe for multiculturalism. But a harsh and puritanical Islamism, fed by modern uncertainties, was driving young women to wear the veil and young men to renounce the old rituals. The mosque loudspeakers grew strident, cultural boundaries sharpened. As a wave of witch-killings shook the countryside, Beatty and his family began to feel like vulnerable outsiders. Set among Java's rice fields and volcanoes, this is the story of how one of the biggest issues of our time plays out in ordinary lives. 4.0 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
A Shadow Falls: In the Heart of Java

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Travel, Religion & Spirituality
Format Paperback
Pages 336
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication March 2009
ISBN 978-0571235865
Publisher Faber & Faber
 

Andrew Beatty lived with his family for two and a half years in a village in East Java. When he arrived, he was entranced by a strange and sensual way of life, an unusual tolerance of diversity. Mysticism, Islamic piety and animism co-existed peacefully; the ancient traditions of the shadow play, of spirit beliefs and were-tigers seemed set to endure. Java appeared a model for our strife-ridden world, a recipe for multiculturalism. But a harsh and puritanical Islamism, fed by modern uncertainties, was driving young women to wear the veil and young men to renounce the old rituals. The mosque loudspeakers grew strident, cultural boundaries sharpened. As a wave of witch-killings shook the countryside, Beatty and his family began to feel like vulnerable outsiders. Set among Java's rice fields and volcanoes, this is the story of how one of the biggest issues of our time plays out in ordinary lives.

Reviews

The Economist

The Economist

[A] fascinating and moving book... Well-written, with vivid characters, “A Shadow Falls” is as enthralling as a novel. And like a good novel, it poses the question: what happened next?... What the author calls “the ebb and flow of orthodoxy” moves both ways. The reader longs to know what Bayu is like today.

02/04/2009

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The Financial Times

John Aglionby

...in 1997 as inter-community tensions were mounting, Beatty leaves. The book stops abruptly and the reader is left disappointed, with myriad questions left hanging... For anyone studying Javanese society in the 1990s, this is a must read. But people seeking an assessment of contemporary Indonesian Islam and pointers to the future should look elsewhere.

06/04/2009

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