By Sadanand Dhume
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In October 2002, Sadanand Dhume found himself in a place most foreigners were trying to flee Bali. Powerful explosions the previous night had ripped through two tourist nightclubs, killing more than two hundred people. That evening he visited what remained of the Sari Club. Standing among piles of ash and blackened beer bottles, he wondered about the future of a country long regarded as immune to such carnage.
My Friend the Fanatic is a fascinating portrait of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, painted through the travels of a pair of unlikely protagonists. Dhume is a foreign correspondent, an Ivy League-educated Indian with a fondness for John Updike and an interest in economic development. His companion, Herry Nurdi, is a young Islamist who hero-worships Osama bin Laden.
Does Herry represent the future for Indonesia? By turns disturbing and funny,
My Friend the Fanatic fulfills a deep hunger for knowledge about our largest neighbour in a time of dynamic and unpredictable change.
Sadanand Dhume is a Washington-based journalist and writer. As a former Indonesia correspondent of the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Wall Street Journal Asia in Jakarta, Sadanand covered Indonesia’s economics, politics and society.