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Written in Black

3.14  ·  Rating details ·  51 ratings  ·  11 reviews
A darkly humorous coming-of-age novel set in Brunei on the island of Borneo, Written in Black offers a snapshot of a few days in the life of ten-year-old Jonathan Lee, attending the funeral of his Ah Kong, or grandfather, and still reeling from the drama of his mother leaving for Australia and his brother getting kicked out of the house and joining a rock band. Annoyed at ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 2014 by Monsoon Books
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Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
So I read this part of the blurb, '...Jonathan escapes his grandfather’s wake in an empty coffin and embarks on a journey through the backwaters of Brunei' and looked at the cover and took it for granted that this is what I should expect from the book BUT... it is not; NOT AT ALL. The cover is rather metaphorical in nature and the blurb is not quite right. I guess he did jump into an empty coffin but it did not last long and he definitely did not go on the water in it. Was I disappointed? Yes, y ...more
Akhmal Aiman
Dec 19, 2014 rated it liked it
I honestly am having a hard time on rating this one. There are some ups and some downs. (This is just my personal perspective, so, some people might not agree)

Rating: 3/5

I bought this book because I was drawn to its nature for having the story set in Brunei, so I was curious as to what the author has written. I genuinely enjoyed the comedy, especially ones that involve Malay-Brunei dialect - some were quite priceless & indeed, VERY often used in our culture, including when cussing over a rud
Pam Giarrizzo
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Written in Black, by K. H. Lim, is set in Brunei and centers around a Bruneian-Chinese family. The book’s protagonist is ten-year-old Jonathan, who is reading Huckleberry Finn when he receives a phone call from his uncle telling him that his grandfather has died. That begins a series of life-changing events for young Jonathan, as his family’s problems cause him to do things he would never have attempted otherwise. We learn that his mother left the family six months ago, ostensibly for health rea ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: brunei, blog
Since there's not too much out there that's set in Brunei, so it's no wonder that my new blogger friend and I chose the same book for this tiny little country that is situated on the island of Borneo, surrounded by the South China Sea on one side and by Malaysia on all other sides. Written in Black is about a small boy, Jonathan, who is adrift in the chaos of his family's dysfunction, left too often to his own devices as he struggles to understand why his mother has left, his eldest brother has ...more
K's Bognoter
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
Muligvis den eneste engelsksprogede roman på markedet, der foregår i Brunei og er skrevet af en bruneisk forfatter. Lider desværre under mangler i både plot, struktur og eksekvering. Resultatet er grundlæggende lidt småkedeligt.

Læs hele min anmeldelse på K's bognoter:
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed it as I was able to imagine the whole story clearly having lived in Brunei. Very Bruneian.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I found it quite funny and enjoyable.
Kate Throp
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
By turns gently poignant and darkly humorous it’s a rollicking yarn as befits it’s 10 year old protagonist. I just wish it didn’t have quite such a large loose end left at the end. B is for Brunei.
Alif Abdul
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't like the idea of a 10 year old acting like a 16 year old in the book. But after reading Harold Bloom's theory on the The Anxiety of Influence, I'm starting to appreciate this text gradually.

I find Jonathan really relatable, the angst and his transition to adulthood. The writing style is my favorite part, I love how you could see what's on Jonathan's mind during the adventure. However, the storyline is a little bit over the top at some point especially during the poklan scene, Jonathan'
Mar 23, 2015 rated it liked it
As one of the very few English novels to emerge from Brunei, I don't think I'm errant in wishing that it had more local content instead of the protagonist's Americanised perspective. All the same, this is a fairly entertaining and well-paced young adult novel, even if the main character never really comes of age, and the ending is way too long.
Kelli Rushek
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
It's quite disjointed and the plot doesn't feel resolved, but it was also touching and real. I don't know if I liked it or hated it.
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