Guides the reader deftly through the whirlpool these [radical Islamist] currents have created… Islam’s future – as a religion of peace and tolerance, or of hatred, violence and supremacy – may well hinge upon Indonesia’s destiny.
WALL STREET JOURNAL
At once funny, sad and unpretentiously intellectual, this fine book tells us much about Indonesia and about Islamism, one of the most important political phenomena of our age.
Robert W. Hefner, FAR EASTERN ECONOMIC REVIEW
It ranks among the best travelogue-type studies of Muslim societies in recent years…Dhume takes us across a fascinating country in the throes of change, and introduces us to artistes, sex writers, sorcerers, politicians, Muslim fundamentalists and a plethora of other characters. No matter how despicable the character, with tolerance and humour, Dhume manages to reveal a glimpse of his essential humanity.
Tabish Khair, OUTLOOK
A vividly engaging portrait of the jarring contradictions at play as two diametrically opposed forces — globalisation and Islamisation — vie for Indonesia’s soul…a striking social and political travelogue…A fine writer and lively storyteller with an eye for lurid detail.
Eye-opening piece of reportage…evocative writing…A compelling read for anyone interested in Islam or Indonesia.
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Reminds us of why we must look beyond the Middle East to appreciate whether Muslims can modernize — and how. Giving us a fresh take on one of the world’s most pressing problems, Sadanand Dhume tells a profoundly human story replete with base instincts and high hopes
Irshad Manji, AUTHOR, THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAM TODAY: A MUSLIM’S CALL FOR REFORM OF HER FAITH
My Friend The Fanatic’ describes a journey between Indonesia’s extremes: the decadence of bohemian Jakarta, and the paranoia of the country’s growing fundamentalist minority. In his encounters with exhibitionist sex writers, Javanese sorcerers or repressive Osama-philes, Sadanand Dhume bring to bear a light, tolerant and ironic eye. He has the wisdom to allow the people he meets to be themselves, not ’stand-ins for something larger’. He has the gift of making the most kitsch and sinister characters seem human, sad, and almost lovable.
Richard Lloyd Parry, Author, IN THE TIME OF MADNESS: INDONESIA ON THE EDGE OF CHAOS
Sadanand Dhume has gone beyond V. S.to bring us a riveting portrait of in flux. It is fluid, funny, and required reading for anyone interested in the future of Islam.
Suketu Mehta, AUTHOR, MAXIMUM CITY: BOMBAY LOST AND FOUND
Fascinating…A very fresh and quite urgent book on aspects of our great neighbour that we know absolutely nothing about.
Phillip Adams, LATE NIGHT LIVE, ABC RADIO NATIONAL
Dhume plunged into the friendly squabble that is Indonesia…He’s a casually elegant writer with an eye for the big ideas and he’s fascinated by the crunch between Islam and modernity.
AUSTRALIAN LITERARY REVIEW
Perfectly timed…elegantly written.
AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW
This is a remarkable book by someone who came to Indonesia with an Indian cultural background — which gave him much in common with most Indonesians. Filled with deep insights into the perspectives and prospects of Indonesian Islamists, Dhume’s conclusions should shake the complacency of anyone who believes that the traditional tolerance and open-mindedness of most Indonesian Muslims make them invulnerable to the influence of more extreme views coming from the Middle East.
Paul Wolfowitz, FORMER PRESIDENT, THE WORLD BANK
Takes on a big issue and delivers with flair.
Vishakha Desai, PRESIDENT, ASIA SOCIETY
A troubling series of events over the past few months is lending credence to Dhume’s concerns…a marvelously fluid writer.
Highly well written and entertaining read…more than recommended.
A thoughtful, oftentimes quirky political travelogue…Dhume has a keen eye for detail, a wry sense of humour, and a rare humility. He paints for us a richly visual and varied landscape of the country while pulling together the disparate threads of Indonesia’s political, religious and social history.
NEW INDIAN EXPRESS
Shatters comforting certainties.
Salil Tripathi, MINT
A fascinating intellectual journey through many layers of the country’s rich cultural history…a deft exploration of how global currents of Arabized Islam are inexorably transforming Indonesia’s easy-going syncretic Islamic culture. Dhume offers an engaging and deeply disturbing portrait of the world’s largest Muslim country, a must read for every concerned world citizen.
Nayan Chanda, AUTHOR OF BOUND TOGETHER: HOW TRADERS, PREACHERS, ADVENTURERS AND WARRIORS SHAPED GLOBALIZATION
Thoughtful…Overflows with little-known and striking anecdotes.
Quite a tale… an appalling scene of intellectual rot, vividly presented.
Paul Berman, THE DAILY BEAST
Sadanand Dhume has not only written a masterful travelogue, but has also turned the spotlight on a fundamentalist movement to which few outsiders have such meaningful access. Indonesia, or in similar movements in other parts of the .the Fanatic should be required reading for anyone interested in the rise of radicalism in
Jamie F. Metzl, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, ASIA SOCIETY
My Friend the Fanatic is a portrait of the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia, a land once synonymous with tolerance that finds itself in the midst of a profound shift toward radical Islam. This portrait is painted through the travels of a pair of unlikely protagonists. Sadanand Dhume, the author, is a foreign correspondent, an Indian atheist with a fondness for literary fiction and an interest in economic development. His companion, Herry Nurdi, is a young Islamist who hero worships Osama bin Laden.
Dhume’s quest to understand the ongoing radicalization of Indonesia gives My Friend the Fanatic the contours of a travelogue. His attachment to the country’s fading culture of pluralism and the inherent tension of his friendship with Herry supply the emotional undertow of a memoir. Both strands come together to answer the same question: how does a society go from broad inclusiveness to shrill intolerance in the space of a generation?