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Jamie James, Author Extraordinaire, 1951-2020

Renowned American Author, Jamie James Dies in Lombok Following 20 Years of Living in Indonesia.

Balidiscovery.com has learned of the unexpected death of the renowned American author Jamie James on Sunday, February 9, 2020, in Lombok after a brief illness.

Jamie James had lived as an expatriate author in Indonesia since 1999, after leaving a nearly 25-year career as a freelance critic and travel writer in New York City.

Much in demand by leading publications in the USA, Jamie James’ criticism and travel essays have appeared in some of the most august publications including The American Scholar, Atlantic Monthly, New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Condé Nast Traveler and Men’s Journal. His literary criticism has been notably featured in Parnassus and Lapham’s Quarterly.

While still in the USA, James wrote two books on archaeology, Pop Art and The Music of the Spheres: Music, Science, and the Natural Order of the Universe (Grove Press, 1993) that was lauded by Robert Saxton in the Times Literary Supplement as “an important and well-researched book—essential reading.”

With Jamie James' migration to Asia in 1999, he began publishing novels reflecting his new Asian home. In 2002, he published a ground-breaking novel Andrew & Joey: A Tale of Bali (Kensington, 2002) written almost entirely in a series of exchanged e-mails. The Java Man (Metafor, 2004) saw James author a hilarious novel in a style reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh relating how an Indonesian poet takes up residence in a contemporary English country village causing confusion and havoc along the way. Four years later, James published a biography about the ill-fated Asian exploits of famed American herpetologist Joe Slowinski - The Snake Charmer (Hyperion, 2008).

Mixing literary criticism, biography, and fiction James wrote Rimbaud in Java: The Lost Voyage (EDM, 2011) retelling how an iconoclastic and incomparably gifted French poet abandoned Paris to explore the Indonesian archipelago. In a review of the book written for Harper’s, Zadie Smith said James' book presented “the spectacle of reading someone writes beautifully about something he finds, well, beautiful.”

Most recently, Jamie James love of historical and biographical investigation was presented in full display in The Glamour of Strangeness (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016) delving into untold stories of a collection of expatriate artists who, like himself, migrated to newfound homes in foreign lands with oftentimes highly unique and remarkable results.   

Jamie James was born in 1951 in Texas where he completed High School before pursuing a tertiary degree at the prestigious Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, graduating in 1973. After college, some of his earliest assignment were with Andy Warhol’s avant-garde Interview Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Time Magazine.

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