Jakarta tweets more than any other city on earth, but 80 million Indonesians live without electricity and many of its communities still share in ritual sacrifices. Declaring independence in 1945, Indonesia said it would "work out the details of the transfer of power etc. as soon as possible." With over 300 ethnic groups spread across 13,500 islands, the world's fourth most populous nation has been working on that "etc." ever since. Bewitched by Indonesia for twenty-five years, Elizabeth Pisani recently traveled 26,000 miles around the archipelago in search of the links that bind this impossibly disparate nation. Fearless and funny, Pisani shares her deck space with pigs and cows, bunks down in a sulfurous volcano, and takes tea with a corpse. Along the way, she observes Big Men with child brides, debates corruption and cannibalism, and ponders "sticky" traditions that cannot be erased.
Elizabeth Pisani has lived in Indonesia at various times over the past twenty-five years, originally as a journalist and later as an HIV epidemiologist. The author of The Wisdom of Whores and Indonesia Etc., she is based in London.