Photos for Porcupines

In May 2018, Stupor Mundi will be publishing a new paperback edition of my novel The White Porcupine. The book is a complex story in large part set in Java in the aftermath of WW2 as Indonesia struggled for independence from the Netherlands. We debated whether to use the beautiful cover designed by Will Hill for the original hardback edition, which is based on Javanese batik cloth, but decided against it, so as to give the new edition has its own identity. I was looking for period photographs, and found two by an unknown photographer(s) in a 1940s Dutch propaganda publication called Mission Interrupted which had been issued as part of a campaign to persuade the world that the Dutch should still be there running South East Asia.

Here are the two photos, one of a misty early morning in a Javanese courtyard, the other a group of soldiers guarding the palace of the Sultan of Jogjakarta (Central Java).

java morning











sultans soldiers_edit 1_edited

So – which photo to use?  In the end we decided on the misty courtyard. Although the soldiers are evocative of a time and place, the courtyard has a more mysterious quality suggestive of stories to be told. You can see the full cover on the ‘Fiction’ page of this site.

Saama: innocents in Asia

April 2018:  A new non-fiction book published this month is Saama, describing an overland trip to India in 1974.  (Please see the Non-Fiction page for more details.)

Based on a diary I kept at the time, this is a portrait of an arrogant young man having the stuffing knocked out of him.  The photographs and drawings include one of the author sprawled on a bed in a Kathmandu flop-house with a silly spaced out smile that now reminds me of Alfred E.Neumann in ‘Mad’ magazine. For all that, it’s a poignant book. This is a girl I encountered in a backstreet in Herat, Afghanistan.

Afghan girl herat