Author(s): Mike Stoner
**Winner of "The Guardian London's" Self-published Book of the Month Award** Set on the lush tropical island of Sumatra, Jalan Jalan is the story of one man's attempt to escape from himself and the memory of his dead girlfriend. On the first page our narrator arrives in Indonesia, having taken a job in a ragtag language school where his fellow teachers are all misfits seemingly on the run from the realities of life in their home countries. "What sort of idiot takes a job after a five minute phone interview, in a country he knows nothing much about and on the other side of the world, in a school he's never heard of? Me idiot. That's who!" says the disaffected Newbie a nickname given to him by his colleagues. This story of a quest for salvation in an exotic foreign land will appeal to fans of Alex Garland's The Beach, Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love and Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano. The title of the book comes from the Indonesian phrase jalan jalan ("walk walk") which one of the characters describes as: "Just fu$&ing walking man. Out for a stroll." To Newbie, whose real name is never revealed until the book's final page, the phrase aptly sums up the emotional detachment he seeks. Yet despite himself, he cannot help being transformed by his new experiences. Characters in the novel include Charles, a dubious Indonesian nightclub owner; Kim, Newbie's dope-smoking Californian housemate; down-to-earth Julie, taciturn Marty and neurotic Geoff all fellow teachers at his school; and Eka, a sensuous Indonesian prostitute who becomes his lover and primary solace. Newbie's late girlfriend Laura remains a ghostly presence, tormenting him with memories of their past, as the narrative weaves between richly textured descriptions of life on the beautiful island of Sumatra and the languid English seaside town where they once lived. Through internal dialogues and flashbacks, we learn of their past and of the day Laura's mother called to say she had died in a horrific traffic accident. Newbie does his best to reinvent himself, throwing himself into the life of a reckless young expat drinking, taking drugs, and exploring Indonesia's breathtaking landscapes. There are moments of enlightenment when he takes magic mushrooms for the first time, sees orangutans in the wild, and helps Charles reunite with his wife. But he cannot escape the memory of Laura, and has an alcohol and drug-fuelled breakdown on what would have been her birthday. Charles arranges an exorcism with an Indonesian shaman, who, in a surreal scene on a deserted beach, not only makes the ghost of Laura disappear but plants a strong suggestion in Newbie's head that time isn't linear, that the events of the past may never have happened and that Laura might still be alive!"
Mike Stoner lives in the UK, but has spent time in Asia and Eastern Europe. He graduated with distinction from the University of Kent with a MA in Creative Writing. He loves writing and intends to do an awful lot more before he keels over. He is married with two kids and currently lives in the United Kingdom.