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Jakarta Post

Bookworm: Tim Hannigan: Creative non-fiction

Bookworm: Tim Hannigan: Creative non-fiction
Hans David
  ●   Mon, October 12, 2015

JP/Hans David

Author Tim Hannigan visited Indonesia for the first time 13 years ago and has been hooked on the country ever since.

Hannigan has spent more than a decade to compile materials for his latest book, titled A Brief History Of Indonesia '€” Sultans, Spices and Tsunamis: The Incredible Story of Southeast Asia'€™s Largest Nation.

The book he wrote could have become just another non-fiction history piece about Indonesia, but he presents it in a very entertaining way, with a refreshing touch compared to other history books.

Hannigan said he honed his skills in writing entertaining non-fiction by reading a lot of fiction works.

'€œWhat I write, I call it creative non-fiction. So it is non-fiction, it is history, but it is written in a creative way. So, actually I read a lot of fiction and a really broad range of fiction, because I use fictional techniques,'€ Hannigan said.

'€œMy original writing heroes are Bruce Chatwin and Ernest Hemingway when I was young. When I just really want to relax, I like to read spy novels,'€ he said. '€œI try to be inspired by techniques in writing fiction.'€

However, his top three books of all time are non-fiction works, and all of them, according to him, have the same entertaining characteristics as his own works.

'€˜The Way of The World'€™
by Nicolas Bouvier

He wrote in French. He was from Switzerland and he made a journey from Europe to Afghanistan in the 1950s, and it was just the most inspiring travel books. It always makes me want to travel. That one I love.


by Roger Kipling

It'€™s a book about India during the British period. It has some of the best writing about places, on how to capture the feeling of a place. So for anyone with an interest in travel writing, it is just beautiful. And it is the only book that I can read again and again and again. I have read it about 20 times and I am sure I will read it plenty more times in my life.


'€˜After The Ancestors: An Anthropologist Story'€™
by Andrew Beatty

It'€™s about Nias, Sumatera, where he did research in the 1980s and it'€™s the best book I have ever read in the last 12 months. It'€™s a really incredible book by a professional anthropologist. It'€™s a true story, but it is written in a literary style, and it is not very well known. It has only been reviewed in a few places, but it should be famous. A really brilliant piece of literary non-fiction.