BN.com Gift Guide

Map of the Invisible World [NOOK Book]

Overview

From the author of the internationally acclaimed The Harmony Silk Factory comes an enthralling novel that evokes an exotic yet turbulent place and time—1960s Indonesia during President Sukarno’s drive to purge the country of its colonial past. A page-turning story, Map of the Invisible World follows the journeys of two brothers and an American woman who are indelibly marked by the past—and swept up in the tides of history.
Read ...
See more details below
Map of the Invisible World

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price

Overview

From the author of the internationally acclaimed The Harmony Silk Factory comes an enthralling novel that evokes an exotic yet turbulent place and time—1960s Indonesia during President Sukarno’s drive to purge the country of its colonial past. A page-turning story, Map of the Invisible World follows the journeys of two brothers and an American woman who are indelibly marked by the past—and swept up in the tides of history.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This exquisite and haunting second novel from Aw (The Harmony Silk Factory) follows a vibrant cast searching for a sense of home during the political upheaval of 1960s Indonesia. After 16-year-old Adam de Willigen's adoptive father, Karl, is arrested by Indonesian soldiers, stranding Adam in their remote island village, he sets off for Jakarta to find him. Meanwhile, American ex-pat professor Margaret Bates is reminded of her teenage love for Karl after an embassy contact informs her he's been arrested. Soon, Adam arrives on Margaret's doorstep, and though practical, good-natured Margaret has never felt any maternal longings, the two bond instantly. Their search for Karl continues amid the riots and protests filling the city streets, but is interrupted when Adam is kidnapped by a Communist student with a sinister agenda. With the help of a friend, Margaret uses every ounce of diplomacy she has to find Karl and Adam and construct the family she's discovered she's wanted all along. Well-paced and gorgeously written, this epic story of loss and identity mirrors the struggles of the young Indonesia in which it takes place. (Jan.)\
Library Journal
With President Sukarno's government in trouble, security forces are rounding up Dutch citizens for deportation, and there is widespread civil unrest (1964 is the "year of living dangerously" in Indonesia). Against this backdrop, teenaged Adam witnesses the police hustling off his adoptive father, a Dutch artist. A search of their house turns up documents linking his father with Margaret, an American professor at the university in Jakarta. Adam strikes out for this teeming metropolis, where he witnesses the brutal riots after Sukarno's Independence Day speech and celebrations and becomes involved with a colleague of Margaret's who turns out to be a radical revolutionary. Meanwhile, Margaret searches for Adam's father with the help of an American embassy attaché who may be undercover CIA. Along the way, Aw (The Harmony Silk Factory) relates Adam's earlier life before his adoption and wrenching separation from his older brother. The novel as a whole unfolds at a leisurely pace, as the author paints a detailed picture of a multifaceted culture subject to the forces of Western imperialism and colonialism, third-world squalor, and political intrigue. VERDICT An intricate and emotional work, this book may be a little too subtle to attract a wide audience. Recommended for literary readers and larger collections.—Jim Coan, SUNY Coll. Lib. at Oneonta
From the Publisher
“Reminiscent of Graham Greene . . . powerful and mesmerizing . . . haunting and memorable.”—The Guardian (U.K.)

“Full of immense intelligence and empathy.”—Time

“Beautifully written . . . The tension of the lives of Aw’s characters, the frayed fabric of Jakarta . . . the dichotomies of beauty and squalor, the mobs, the menace, the impending crisis—all of this is captured in Map of the Invisible World with a fidelity that can’t be faulted.”—The Washington Post

“Exquisite . . . What makes [Map of the Invisible World] brilliant are its rootless main characters. These fully formed individuals and their relationships transform [this] novel into a moving meditation on identity, memory, and art.”—Time Out New York
 

“Exquisitely and subtly rendered . . . Aw’s haunting writing and his detailed evocation of 1960s Indonesia are both masterly.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“[A] vibrant narrative . . . enveloping the reader in several haunting personal journeys.”—The Denver Post
 
“Engrossing . . . plunges the reader into another time and place, and both are alluring.”—The Plain Dealer
 
“Well-paced and gorgeously written, this epic story of loss and identity mirrors the struggles of the young Indonesia in which it takes place.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781588369833
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/5/2010
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 914,541
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Tash Aw's debut novel, The Harmony Silk Factory, was the winner of the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Novel and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Malaysian by birth, he now lives in London.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



When it finally happened, there was no violence, hardly any drama. It was over very quickly, and then Adam found himself alone once more. Hiding in the deep shade of the bushes, this is what he saw.

The soldiers jumped from the truck onto the sandy soil. They dusted themselves off, straightening their hitched-up trouser legs and tucking their shirts into their waistbands. Their long sleeves were rolled up thickly above their elbows and made their arms look skinny and frail, and the belts they wore were so wide they seemed to stretch their waists to their chests. They laughed and joked and aimed pretend-kicks at one another. Their boots were too big and when they ran they looked like clowns. They were just kids, Adam thought, just like me, only with guns.

They hesitated as they approached the steps going up to the veranda, talking among themselves. They were too far away; he couldn't hear what they were saying. Then two of them went up to the house and when they emerged they had Karl with them. He was not handcuffed; he followed them slowly, walking to the truck with his uneven gait before climbing up and disappearing under the tarpaulin canopy. From a distance he looked small, just like them, just like a child too, only with fair hair and pink skin.

Stop. Adam wanted to call out, to scream for Karl to come back. Don't leave, he wanted to shout. But he remained silent and unmoving, shrouded by the dense, thorny foliage. He could do this now: He held his breath and counted slowly from one to ten. A long time ago, he had learned this way of controlling his fear.

The truck reversed and then drew away sharply, kicking up a cloud of sand and dust; on its side there was a crude chalk drawing of a penis next to the words your mother ——. Overhead the skies were rich and low and black, pregnant with moisture. It had been like this for some days; it had not rained in a long time, but now there was a storm coming. Everyone wanted rain.

In truth it did not surprise Adam that the soldiers had come. All month there had been signs hinting at some impending disaster, but only he seemed to see them. For weeks beforehand the seas had been rough, the ground trembling with just the slightest suggestion of an earthquake. One night Adam was awakened from his sleep by such a tremor, and when he went to the door and looked outside the coconut trees were swaying sinuously even though there was no wind; the ground felt uncertain beneath his feet and for a while he could not be sure that it wasn't he who was swaying rather than the trees. The ginger and white cat that spent its days bounding across the grass roof in search of mice and lizards began to creep slowly along, as if suddenly it had become old and unsteady, until one morning Adam found it dead on the sand, its neck twisted awkwardly at an angle, its face looking up toward the sky.

Then there was the incident in town. An old man had cycled from his village in the hills, looking to buy some rice from the Chinese merchant. He'd just come back from the Hajj, he said; the pilgrimage is an honor but it isn't cheap. The crops had not been good all year; the dry season had been too long, and now there was no food left. He asked for credit, but the merchant refused point-blank. Last year there was a plague of rats, he said; this year there is a drought. Next year there will be an earthquake and the year after there will be floods. There is always something on this shit hole of an island. No one has any money, everyone in town will tell you the same thing. Prices are high, but it's no one's fault: If you don't have cash, there's nothing anyone can do for you. So the old man went to the pawnshop with his wife's ring, a small gemstone that might have been amber, set in a thin band of silver. The Chinese pawnbroker peered at it through an eyeglass for a few seconds before handing it back. A fake, he said, shrugging, a cheap fake. An argument ensued, a scuffle; insults of a personal, and no doubt racial, nature were exchanged. Later that evening, when the hot heavy night had descended, someone—it is not clear who—splashed kerosene on the doors of the pawnshop and took a match to it. The traditional wooden houses of this island (of which not many survive) burn easily, and within half an hour it was engulfed in flames. There were no survivors. The Chinese shops stayed closed for three days; no one could buy anything. Suddenly there were fistfights all over town. Communists were arriving from the mainland to capitalize on the unrest, everyone said. Gangs of youths roamed the streets armed with machetes and daubing graffiti on houses. Commies DIE. Foreigners Chinese go to hel.

It was like an article from the newspapers played out for real, the static images rising from the newsprint and coming to life before Adam's very eyes. The charred timber remains of burned-out buildings, the bloodred paint on walls. The empty streets. Adam knew that there were troubles elsewhere in Indonesia. He had heard there was a revolution of some sort—not like the ones in France or Russia or China, which he had read about, but something fuzzier and more indistinct, where no one was quite sure what needed to be overthrown, or what to be kept. But those were problems that belonged to Java and Sumatra—at the other end of this country of islands strung out across the sea like seaweed on the shore. That was what everyone thought. Only Adam knew that they were not safe.

Karl had refused to do anything. He did not once consider leaving.

"But . . ." Adam tried to protest. He read the newspapers and listened to the radio, and he knew that things were happening all across the archipelago.

"Why should we?"

"Because of your . . . because we are, I mean, you are different." Even as he spoke he knew what the response would be.

"I am as Indonesian as anyone else on this island. My passport says so. Skin color has nothing to do with it, I've always told you that. And if the police come for me, I'll tell them the same thing. I have committed no crime; I'm just like everyone else."

And so they had stayed. They had stayed, and the soldiers had come. Adam had been right all along; he knew the soldiers would come for them. He had imagined himself being in jail with Karl in Surabaya or somewhere else on the mainland, maybe even Jakarta, but now he was alone. It was the first time in his life he had been alone—the first time in this life at least.

He waited in the bushes long after the truck had gone. He didn't know what he was waiting for but he waited anyway, squatting with his backside nearly touching the ground, his knees pulled up to his chin. When it was nearly dark and the sea breeze started up again he walked back to the house and sat on the veranda. He sat and he waited until it was properly night, until he could see nothing but the silhouettes of the trees against the deep blankness of the sea beyond, and he felt calmer.

Night falls quickly in these islands, and once it arrives you can see nothing. If you light a lamp it will illuminate a small space around you quite perfectly, but beyond this pool of watery brilliance there is nothing. The hills, the scrubby forests, rocky shoreline, the beaches of black sand—they become indistinguishable, they cease to exist as independent forms. And so, sitting motionless in the dark, only his shallow breaths reveal that Adam is still there, still waiting.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Foreword

1. Map of the Invisible World is a story told, for the most part, in three voices: Adam’s, Johan’s, and Margaret’s. Johan’s passages are stylistically different from the other two: why do think the author chose to set them off like this?

2. Map of the Invisible World is set in Indonesia and Malaysia in the 1960s, with flashbacks to the preceding decades. Did you know much about this time and place before reading the novel? Did the novel change your perspective on the history of this region? Do you think that the varying points of view in the novel give a well-rounded representation of the era and its events?

3. To what does the title of the novel refer?

4. Discuss the relationship of each of the three epigraphs — one a quote from the French poet Rimbaud, one from the Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and one from the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges — to the novel itself.

5. As the novel begins, we see Adam being left alone for the third time in his young life: discuss the theme of loss in the novel.

6. Is Map of the Invisible World a political novel? Why or why not?

7. Discuss the various fathers in the novel, and the theme of fatherhood (including the idea of Sukarno as the father of his nation).

8. Din is perhaps the most complex character in the novel: how did you feel about him in the end? Were his actions justified? Understandable?

9. Do you think that Karl made the right choice in returning to Indonesia after World War II ended? Why or why not?

10. Discuss how the ideas of family and belonging play out in the novel.

11. If you haveread Tash Aw’s debut novel, The Harmony Silk Factory, can you see threads that connect Map of the Invisible World with it? How are the two novels different?

12. The sea plays an important role in the imaginations of both Adam and Johan: do you think it means the same thing to both boys? Does the sea play a role in the larger themes of the novel (historical, political)?

13. At the end of chapter 11, Margaret asks herself: “had she loved and been loved in return?” Do you think she has an answer to that question by the end of the novel?

14. The final scene of the novel describes Johan driving through the dark city, just as he is doing when we first encounter him: what do you think the author intends with this echoing?

15. The author describes a number of neighbourhoods and buildings in Jakarta: did the city come alive for you? Is it a place you would like to visit? How about the smaller, more remote islands of Indonesia, such as the one Adam and Karl live on?

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. Map of the Invisible World is a story told, for the most part, in three voices: Adam’s, Johan’s, and Margaret’s. Johan’s passages are stylistically different from the other two: why do think the author chose to set them off like this?

2. Map of the Invisible World is set in Indonesia and Malaysia in the 1960s, with flashbacks to the preceding decades. Did you know much about this time and place before reading the novel? Did the novel change your perspective on the history of this region? Do you think that the varying points of view in the novel give a well-rounded representation of the era and its events?

3. To what does the title of the novel refer?

4. Discuss the relationship of each of the three epigraphs — one a quote from the French poet Rimbaud, one from the Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and one from the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges — to the novel itself.

5. As the novel begins, we see Adam being left alone for the third time in his young life: discuss the theme of loss in the novel.

6. Is Map of the Invisible World a political novel? Why or why not?

7. Discuss the various fathers in the novel, and the theme of fatherhood (including the idea of Sukarno as the father of his nation).

8. Din is perhaps the most complex character in the novel: how did you feel about him in the end? Were his actions justified? Understandable?

9. Do you think that Karl made the right choice in returning to Indonesia after World War II ended? Why or why not?

10. Discuss how the ideas of family and belonging play out in the novel.

11. If you have read Tash Aw’s debut novel, The Harmony Silk Factory, can you see threads that connect Map of the Invisible World with it? How are the two novels different?

12. The sea plays an important role in the imaginations of both Adam and Johan: do you think it means the same thing to both boys? Does the sea play a role in the larger themes of the novel (historical, political)?

13. At the end of chapter 11, Margaret asks herself: “had she loved and been loved in return?” Do you think she has an answer to that question by the end of the novel?

14. The final scene of the novel describes Johan driving through the dark city, just as he is doing when we first encounter him: what do you think the author intends with this echoing?

15. The author describes a number of neighbourhoods and buildings in Jakarta: did the city come alive for you? Is it a place you would like to visit? How about the smaller, more remote islands of Indonesia, such as the one Adam and Karl live on?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2010

    e-book pricing

    I wish the e-book pricing wouldn't have increased on this one.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)