Hotel Kerobokan by Kathryn Bonella

Suzie Eisfelder

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately, not on purpose as I’ve been choosing the books by their spines. I will read something else in due course, but my current book is also non-fiction. With less than fifty pages to go of my current book I promise to choose fiction for my next book.

Most people know of Schapelle Corby and her time spent in Kerobokan Jail in Bali. You might have read about her in the newspapers, or watched her interviews, or even read the book Kathryn Bonella co-wrote about her. I’ve read very little, just the occasional newspaper article and have watched absolutely nothing except for the ads for the programmes she was interviewed in. I feel no interest in her individual story, but the overall story of the jail she was in is a totally different kettle of fish. This is a shocking story, you get the details, the nitty-gritty and the stories of how people were caught and thrown in jail.

What I loved about this book is the many individual stories that have been gleaned from personal interviews with people currently in the jail or who have been recently released. There are many, many excerpts from these interviews. One chapter is entirely made up of excerpts, complete with oddly-syntaxed English.

One of the many things I found odd about the contents of this book is how some people were able to leave the jail for a day out. Yes, they were meant to be going to the dentist, but they took their guards to the beach and they had a day out.

Being sent to jail doesn’t seem to have made a difference to some inmates businesses. They kept dealing in drugs, and in fact, business seemed to improve as they were able to sell to people inside as well as outside.

This is an incredibly gritty book. Bonella pulls no punches with depicting life in Kerobokan Jail. The sex, the drugs, the corruption and how people manage to survive…or in some cases, not survive. We see the inmates watching what is going on. It’s really hard to believe this is real life and not something the author made up.

While this is a good book, I feel it is not for everyone. I’m giving you an affiliate link in case you want to buy the book and see what I’m talking about.

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