The Island that is No More – The World Odissey of a Balinese Prince


Illustrated by Dr. Anak Agung Madé Djelantik

These magical true stories are filled with the refreshing suspense and wonder so essential in times of uncertainty and fear. This collection of life adventures is the fruit of the long-time friendship between storyteller, Idanna Pucci – Florentine by birth and Balinese by adoption — and her mentor, Anak Agung Madé Djelantik, one of Bali’s most beloved personalities.

As a child in the legendary palace of Karangasem, young Madé absorbed the magic of early 20th century Bali, steeped in ancient tradition and the belief in invisible forces. He would later witness key moments in the history of his country and far beyond: the struggle for independence after four hundred years of Dutch rule, the Nazi occupation of Holland, and the modern tsunami of globalization on his once mythical island.

The stories begin in a now-vanished feudal epoch at the height of the colonial age. Driven by an early vocation for medicine, the young prince set sail for Europe to study at Amsterdam University—the first Balinese to do so. He went on to spend his entire life in service of others as a doctor in the most farflung regions of the planet. Finally, when he returned home, Dr. Djelantik started the first hospital in Bali.

In each setting, the physician-prince faced danger: an attack by an army of rats on the run, a pirate ambush in the South China Sea, an aerial bombardment, his arrest by Saddam Hussein’s secret police, a terrifying volcanic eruption, and the teeth of famished crocodiles, to name only a few. Reacting always with serenity, composure, and a sublime sense of humor, he miraculously survived unscathed. In each case, he was left with a humbling sense of wonder.

Just after his 80th birthday, Dr. Djelantik underwent a simple hernia operation in the very hospital he had founded, but a strong infection plunged him into a deep coma. A month later, to everyone’s surprise, he regained consciousness. Again, his time had not yet come.

Slowly, memories of moments, that he called “between death and life”, began to vividly surface in his mind, until one day, he picked up a brush, and started to paint for the first time in fifty years. Sitting for hours at an easel, he transformed into watercolors those very scenes. His evocative paintings gave birth to the compelling narrative woven by Idanna Pucci.

These unusual modern-day fables where each episode opens a window onto another culture, offer a new perspective. In the end, these stories bear witness to the comic and the tragic, the wisdom and the enduring mystery of our rapidly vanishing traditional world.

“With an insider’s touch, the author pays homage with her vivid storytelling to the prince’s extraordinary life that spans much of the 20th century – from Bali’s feudal times to our global age. A must read…”
Jane Perlez, Chief Correspondent in China, The New York Times

“In telling her prince’s story, Idanna Pucci recalls without sentimentalism the calm strength of a society still able to feel and express a sense of the sacred.”
Francesco Clemente, painter

Rights Sold: Italy [LEF], Indonesia [Saritaksu]

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Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Memoir