Every decade or so a previously forgotten tropical backyard flowers unexpectedly thanks to the discovery of gold, oil or cheap labor. Enlightened royals and savvy dictators attract investors and foreign companies to their domains. Growth figures – real or inflated – spread the lore of an economical miracle. Factories replace traditional farming fields. Skyscrapers rise amidst the cou More
Every decade or so a previously forgotten tropical backyard flowers unexpectedly thanks to the discovery of gold, oil or cheap labor. Enlightened royals and savvy dictators attract investors and foreign companies to their domains. Growth figures – real or inflated – spread the lore of an economical miracle. Factories replace traditional farming fields. Skyscrapers rise amidst the country’s slums.
In the wake of economic boom, western expatriates – expats – flock to this next promised land. There are the veterans, who have seen more of the world than the countries where they were born and bred. They are accompanied by their expatriate wives who spend scorching hot days with their local drivers commuting between the international school and social events specially organized for expat women. And then there are the newcomers, the first timers, the bachelors and newlyweds for whom an expatriate posting is their initial adventure abroad and a life-changing experience.
So what happens when you dump thousands of western expatriates into a sweltering hot capital at the equator? How do they relate to the local population and their customs? How do they deal with third world infrastructure and services? Can they handle major social differences? And in the meantime, doesn’t their very presence there raise other issues? Why can’t the locals do what they do? Perhaps expatriates are simply the new brand of colonizer.
Expats takes a first-hand look at life in the expat business community in Indonesia at the end of the 20th century. A revealing, entertaining and personally confronting moral drama.
Max de Bruijn (1966) is a Dutch historian and journalist. The newspaper and magazine articles he wrote about his expat experience in Jakarta in the 1990s resulted in his first novel Expats. His non-fiction work Indonesië op vrijdagmiddag (Friday Afternoon in Indonesia) was released in 2009.
“Seldom have I read such a hard-hitting book about the cynical behavior of the Dutch living and working abroad as Expats.”
Elsbeth Etty, critic & columnist
Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad
“Successful, confounding, and above all captivating social commentary.”
Belgian newspaper De Standard
“De Bruijn’s attempt to discredit the good intentions of the business world
in Indonesia is shameful.”
Reader’s reaction, Boeknet.nl
“There was so much drinking during the Orange Ball to honor the Queen
that people were passed out on the Dutch Embassy’s lawn.”
Radio Netherlands Worldwide
“I’ve had a truly wonderful time here… with one exception: that book Expats.”
Dutch Ambassador Schelto baron van Heemstra, in his farewell speech
to the Dutch community in Indonesia, 2002
“Expats is undeniably successful as a parody, but it left me with quite a bitter aftertaste.”
BZ-Blad, staff magazine Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2001-2002
“Hilarious and moving…”
Reader’s reaction, Bol.com