Map of the Invisible World

Starred Review. This exquisite and haunting second novel from Aw (The Harmony Silk Factory) follows a vibrant cast searching for a sense of home during the political upheaval of 1960s Indonesia. After 16-year-old Adam de Willigen’s adoptive father, Karl, is arrested by Indonesian soldiers, stranding Adam in their remote island village, he sets off for Jakarta to find him. Meanwhile, American ex-pat professor Margaret Bates is reminded of her teenage love for Karl after an embassy contact informs her he’s been arrested. Soon, Adam arrives on Margaret’s doorstep, and though practical, good-natured Margaret has never felt any maternal longings, the two bond instantly. Their search for Karl continues amid the riots and protests filling the city streets, but is interrupted when Adam is kidnapped by a Communist student with a sinister agenda. With the help of a friend, Margaret uses every ounce of diplomacy she has to find Karl and Adam and construct the family she’s discovered she’s wanted all along. Well-paced and gorgeously written, this epic story of loss and identity mirrors the struggles of the young Indonesia in which it takes place.

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