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Bones Of The Dark Moon: A Contemporary Novel Exploring Bali's 1965 Massacres

466 pages6 hours


During construction of a villa on an idyllic Bali seashore, workers uncover long-buried skeletons, their shattered skulls evidence of brutal mass murder. The discovery sets the village of Batu Gede astir. The life of Made "Nol" Ziro, a stalwart member of the community with a little gambling problem, is turned upside down. Could one of those skeletons be that of his schoolteacher father, who disappeared during the political upheaval and massacres of 1965?

As Nol sets out to find the truth of what happened, his path crosses that of American anthropologist Tina Briddle, who has secrets of her own, and who is determined to give a voice to the unknown bones. She suspects that the key to their mystery lies with Reed Davis, an enigmatic retiree dwelling among the Ubud expat community and rumored to have been a CIA spy.
Drawing them together is the mysterious Luhde Srikandi, who fifty years ago whispered her enchantments from deep in the shadows of conspiracy, and who begins to whisper again. Who is she? For what happened on that sleepy beach all those decades ago isn't dusty memory. Secrets are revealed, vengeance is unleashed, and a forbidden love flares to life.

Arguably the most traumatic cataclysm of Bali's rich and fascinating history, the massacres of 1965 remain mostly unknown to the island's visitors. Interweaving historical drama with contemporary Bali life, Bones of the New Moon is compulsively readable, a page-turner with unexpected twists leavened with dashes of humor, laying bare the love and hatred, the tragedy and irony, and the joy and despair of our common human predicament.


Over the past few decades, Bali's local media has periodically reported the findings of human remains, exposed by coastal erosion, development, or accidental discovery. These bones are quietly cremated as an unsettling reminder of one of Bali's darkest chapters, the massacres of 1965, in which an estimated 50000 Balinese were slaughtered during a time of violent national upheaval.

The precipitating event, which occurred on 30 September 1965 and which was to be known in national history as Gestapu, was the kidnapping and murder of six army generals in Jakarta by rogue army units, reportedly acting on orders of the secret Special Bureau of the Indonesian Communist Party. At the time, the Partai Komunis Indonesia, or the PKI, was the third largest Communist party in the world and on the cusp of national power. The murders of the generals marked one of history's most startling reversals of political fortune. The nationalists' systematic bloody purging of leftist and Communists culminated in the atrocities in Bali, a horror that has remains unresolved and painfully fresh in the memory of the Balinese but is unknown to most foreigners visiting the paradise island.

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