'The charismatic god-king Sukarno has brought Indonesia to the edge of chaos - to an abortive revolution that will leave half a million dead. For the Western correspondents here, this gathering apocalypse is their story and their drug, while the sufferings of the Indonesian people are scarcely real: a shadow play. Working at the eye of the storm are television correspondent Guy Hamilton and his eccentric cameraman Billy Kwan. In Kwan's secret fantasy life, both Sukarno and Hamilton are heroes. But his heroes betray him, and Billy is driven to desperate action. As the Indonesian shadow play erupts into terrible reality, a complex personal tragedy of love, obsession and betrayal comes to its climax.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
Set in Indonesia, The Year of Livingly Dangerously is based on the real events that occurred in the country in 1965. The story revolves around Guy Hamilton, who has arrived in Jakarta on his first overseas posting for the Australian Broadcasting Service. Having had no time to build relationships or contacts, he stumbles around the city, attempting to cover the political tensions that are daily increasing. He is eventually taken under the wing of a small but well-connected Chinese-Australian cameraman, Billy Kwan, who recognises great potential in Hamilton. Hamilton is groomed by Kwan, who then sets up exclusive interviews for him while also engineering a romance with Jill Bryant, the young assistant at the British Embassy. Bryant warns Hamilton that violence is about to break out between right-wing factions and the Communist Party of Indonesia, but he pursues the story anyway. Billy Kwan, disheartened by all the people he once believed in, decides to make a public protest against President Sukarno. When the situation eventually escalates into violence, Hamilton is caught between his career ambitions, his conscience, and his feelings for Jill Bryant.
This work is affiliated with the AustLit subset Asian-Australian Children's Literature and Publishing because it has been recommended as an Asia Literacy resource for young adults by the Dept of Education and Early Childhood, Victoria.
Writing Disability in Australia:
See C.A. Cranston's dissertation 'Deformity as Device in the Twentieth-century Australian Novel'.