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On the Java Ridge

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Amid the furious ocean there was no human sound on deck: some people standing, watching the wave, but no one capable of words. On the Java Ridge, skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored beside an idyllic reef off the Indonesian island of Dana. In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a Federal election looms Amid the furious ocean there was no human sound on deck: some people standing, watching the wave, but no one capable of words. On the Java Ridge, skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored beside an idyllic reef off the Indonesian island of Dana. In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a Federal election looms and (not coincidentally) a hardline new policy is being announced regarding maritime assistance to asylum-seeker vessels in distress.A few kilometres away from Dana, the Takalar is having engine trouble. Among the passengers fleeing from persecution are Roya and her mother, and Roya’s unborn sister.The storm now closing in on the Takalar and the Java Ridge will mean catastrophe for them all.With On the Java Ridge Jock Serong, bestselling author of The Rules of Backyard Cricket, brings us a literary novel with the pace and tension of a political thriller—and some of the most compelling, heartstopping writing about the sea since Patrick O’Brian.


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Amid the furious ocean there was no human sound on deck: some people standing, watching the wave, but no one capable of words. On the Java Ridge, skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored beside an idyllic reef off the Indonesian island of Dana. In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a Federal election looms Amid the furious ocean there was no human sound on deck: some people standing, watching the wave, but no one capable of words. On the Java Ridge, skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored beside an idyllic reef off the Indonesian island of Dana. In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a Federal election looms and (not coincidentally) a hardline new policy is being announced regarding maritime assistance to asylum-seeker vessels in distress.A few kilometres away from Dana, the Takalar is having engine trouble. Among the passengers fleeing from persecution are Roya and her mother, and Roya’s unborn sister.The storm now closing in on the Takalar and the Java Ridge will mean catastrophe for them all.With On the Java Ridge Jock Serong, bestselling author of The Rules of Backyard Cricket, brings us a literary novel with the pace and tension of a political thriller—and some of the most compelling, heartstopping writing about the sea since Patrick O’Brian.

30 review for On the Java Ridge

  1. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    4.5 stars, rounded up. Very very good. Amazing writing. Captivating story. Review to follow. Unfortunately as life will have it around here, I have left my review for far too long. This was a very good read, quality and literary all at once. I love the fact that this country continues to churn out fine authors at an alarming rate. She checked her treasures, the things from which she would never be parted... Her mother. The ring. The book and the photograph. Between them she strung the globes o 4.5 stars, rounded up. Very very good. Amazing writing. Captivating story. Review to follow. Unfortunately as life will have it around here, I have left my review for far too long. This was a very good read, quality and literary all at once. I love the fact that this country continues to churn out fine authors at an alarming rate. She checked her treasures, the things from which she would never be parted... Her mother. The ring. The book and the photograph. Between them she strung the globes of her hope. This genre is not one that I would choose normally, but I enjoyed this as all the elements are there. Contemporary issues; asylum seeking and families fighting for more that their disparate countries can offer them, politics; the good the bad and the ugly; and life and love; Aussie youngsters living the dream. Captivating all the way through, and an abrupt and unexpected ending, all with a lot of heartbreak and tension to keep us holding our breath. Not a page turner in the traditional sense, it was methodical, but you need to know what comes next. This book has been added to my workplace library, a university. They are discerning with their fiction and this has deservedly gained a spot on the shelf. I think this is literary fiction as its Aussie best.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    4.5★s As Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity released the new policy regarding people smugglers and vessels in distress from his Canberra office, he experienced a kernel of unease, but pushed it to one side. The Federal election was just over a week away – time was of the essence. Skipper of the Java Ridge, Isi Natoli was determined to give the Australian surf tourists aboard her boat a holiday to remember. As they motored toward the small Indonesian island of Dana, the looming storm h 4.5★s As Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity released the new policy regarding people smugglers and vessels in distress from his Canberra office, he experienced a kernel of unease, but pushed it to one side. The Federal election was just over a week away – time was of the essence. Skipper of the Java Ridge, Isi Natoli was determined to give the Australian surf tourists aboard her boat a holiday to remember. As they motored toward the small Indonesian island of Dana, the looming storm had her changing plans – instead of another island two hours hence, they moored in the small lagoon at Dana, hoping to avoid the worst of the bad weather. Aboard the Takalar, the asylum seekers were desperate to reach Australian shores. The people smugglers had assured them that everything would be fine – but as the rickety old boat started experiencing engine trouble, the storm tossed the waves violently around them. Nine-year-old Roya and her pregnant mother were among the passengers who were fleeing their home in hopes of a better life. When they saw the island ahead of them, and better yet another boat nestled in the lagoon, they thought they were saved… On The Java Ridge by Aussie author Jock Serong is an intense, gripping and extremely heartbreaking novel of persecution, betrayal of trust, and political correctness gone mad. The pompousness of the political persons in this book beggars belief – what must their consciences tell them? Or don’t they have any! The character of Roya was beautifully portrayed – a gutsy little girl, determined to look after her mother, and although she felt fear, she tried not to show it. Isi was a similar character – strong willed and filled with courage. I thoroughly enjoyed On The Java Ridge which was told from three perspectives until the joint arrival on Dana; and highly recommend it. With thanks to Text Publishing for my copy to read and review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    “She checked her treasures, the things from which she would never be parted: her father’s ring, heavy and scrolled, tumbling like a snail in the pocket her mother had sewn into her dress; and her English book – a worn copy of the Pocket Oxford Dictionary, between the pages of which she kept the photograph she loved. Her mother. The ring. The book and the photograph. Between them she strung the globes of hope” On the Java Ridge is the third novel by Australian author, Jock Serong. In Canberra, a w “She checked her treasures, the things from which she would never be parted: her father’s ring, heavy and scrolled, tumbling like a snail in the pocket her mother had sewn into her dress; and her English book – a worn copy of the Pocket Oxford Dictionary, between the pages of which she kept the photograph she loved. Her mother. The ring. The book and the photograph. Between them she strung the globes of hope” On the Java Ridge is the third novel by Australian author, Jock Serong. In Canberra, a week out from a Federal election, the Minister for Border Integrity announces a tough new policy to deal with boats illegally entering Australian waters. In Bali, seven Australians set out on a custom-built traditional Indonesian boat to surf the waters near Raijua Island. In Sulawesi, a boat full of asylum seekers departs under cover of darkness, heading for Ashmore Reef. What occurs over the next seven days will affect many lives and have major repercussions. The bulk of the narrative is carried by three characters: nine-year-old Roya Sayghan is a Hazara from Herat who is hoping to reach asylum in Australia with her mother and unborn sister; Isi Natoli gave up a boring office job to partner with Joel Hughes in a surf tourism business; Cassius Calvert, a former Olympic rower turned politician, is beginning to have certain misgivings about the policy he has just announced. Perhaps not much imagination is required to figure out what will happen, but Serong gives the reader a plot with plenty of twists and red herrings. He slowly builds up the situation, drip feeding complicating factors into the story, so that, each time the reader is sure nothing can be added, another wrinkle appears, escalating the tension, intensifying the drama, until the final shocking conclusion. It matters little whom the reader casts in their mind as the Australian Prime Minister and the Minister for Border Integrity: their dialogue, attitudes and behaviour are more than plausible. Likewise, the rest of the cast exude familiarity: the dedicated surfers; the political staffers; the neglected son; the social justice advocate; the asylum seekers: the bored surveillance operator. The city of Canberra, too, is well conveyed. Serong’s prose is often exquisite, and he manages to insert some subtle black humour. It is quite apparent that Serong has his finger firmly on the pulse of current events: this is a thoroughly credible hypothetical, a truly intriguing and frighteningly believable “what if?” that is brilliantly executed, acutely topical and extremely relevant. What will this talented author do next?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bianca

    On The Java Ridge is an extremely contemporary novel. I found myself listening to the audiobook compulsively, unable to stop. This is a novel about asylum seekers and politics. Serong has wisely chosen to tell his story via three characters: nine-year-old Roya fled Afganistan with her heavily pregnant mother after the Talibans took away her father and brother; Isi Natoli is the skipper of the Java Ridge, and she's taking Australian tourists to some great surfing spots in the Javanese archipelago; On The Java Ridge is an extremely contemporary novel. I found myself listening to the audiobook compulsively, unable to stop. This is a novel about asylum seekers and politics. Serong has wisely chosen to tell his story via three characters: nine-year-old Roya fled Afganistan with her heavily pregnant mother after the Talibans took away her father and brother; Isi Natoli is the skipper of the Java Ridge, and she's taking Australian tourists to some great surfing spots in the Javanese archipelago; Cassius Calvert is the Minister for Border Integrity - he's an ambitious, competent politician, who's announced a new measure to deter the boat arrivals. As I've said, this is a very contemporary novel. When the asylum seekers' boat sinks near to where the Java Ridge was anchored, the Aussies do their best to save as many people as possible. But over half of the people, including babies and children perish. Stranded on an atoll, without meaningful means of communication and injured people to look after, this becomes a rescue trip. Will anyone come to their rescue? Jock Seron wrote a compelling, riveting novel that just got better and better as it progressed. The characterisations were fantastic. Surprisingly enough, I've never read a book on this very contemporary issue. Serong gets extra brownie points for daring to write a political novel focusing on an issue which is highly divisive. I found On The Jave Ridge unexpectedly riveting, relevant, and touching while managing to avoid the melodrama. It is a "message book", I didn't mind it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    4.5★ A week out from a federal election, the Minister for Border Integrity announces a tough new policy on providing maritime assistance to boats crossing into Australian territorial waters. At about the same time, an Australian-owned surf charter boat - the Java Ridge - leaves Bali with 7 Australians on board, bound for Raijua Island. Meanwhile, the Takalar, a boat of similar appearance but vastly different purpose, sets off from Sulawesi carrying crowds of Afghan, Iraqi and Pakistani refugees. 4.5★ A week out from a federal election, the Minister for Border Integrity announces a tough new policy on providing maritime assistance to boats crossing into Australian territorial waters. At about the same time, an Australian-owned surf charter boat - the Java Ridge - leaves Bali with 7 Australians on board, bound for Raijua Island. Meanwhile, the Takalar, a boat of similar appearance but vastly different purpose, sets off from Sulawesi carrying crowds of Afghan, Iraqi and Pakistani refugees. Both boats are sheltering in a lagoon off Dana Island when a massive storm passes over them but only one makes it through the storm. What happens next is one of the most nail-biting, harrowing stories I have read in a long, long time. Out on the ocean we see the best and worst of humanity, while back in Canberra, behind the scenes, it's mainly just the worst... The sheer plausibility of this story makes it both magnificent and terrifying. It is an important, prophetic story of our time, with a climactic scene that left me reeling.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Text Publishing

    ‘Devastatingly brilliant…an emotionally grueling mix of high-octane action, life-and-death political maneuvering and, at its heart, an anguishing portrayal of worldwide refugee crises…Beautiful, mournful, infuriating and brimming with tension, On the Java Ridge is utterly incomparable.’ Shelf Awareness ‘On the Java Ridge cements Serong’s place as one of Australia’s most innovative and ambitious crime writers.’ NZ Listener ‘Serong exhibits impressive control, leaping between three vastly different v ‘Devastatingly brilliant…an emotionally grueling mix of high-octane action, life-and-death political maneuvering and, at its heart, an anguishing portrayal of worldwide refugee crises…Beautiful, mournful, infuriating and brimming with tension, On the Java Ridge is utterly incomparable.’ Shelf Awareness ‘On the Java Ridge cements Serong’s place as one of Australia’s most innovative and ambitious crime writers.’ NZ Listener ‘Serong exhibits impressive control, leaping between three vastly different viewpoints and delivering a fevered crescendo as compassion competes with political survival.’ NZ Listener ‘Beautifully written and acutely observed, The Rules of Backyard Cricket is a noir tour de force.’ Sue Turnbull, Sydney Morning Herald ‘Serong’s writing displays wit, insight and occasionally, splendour.’ Books + Publishing ‘Blow me down if I didn’t hang on every word.’ Clare Wright, Weekend Australia ‘A compelling literary novel dissecting toxic sporting culture and its fallout.’ Paddy O'Reilly, Australian Book Review ‘Jock Serong creates a sense of foreboding from the very start of his third novel, and then constantly ratchets up the tension with a keen sense of pacing.’ Books + Publishing ‘Serong confirms his talent for multi-layered plot-driven novels that offer commentary on modern Australia.’ Books+Publishing ‘With this book, Serong cements his growing reputation as the thinking person’s adventure writer. On the Java Ridge is such a strong piece of writing on so many levels. Andrew Bolt would hate it!’ Readings ‘With this book, Serong cements his growing reputation as the thinking person’s adventure writer. On the Java Ridge is such a strong piece of writing on so many levels. Andrew Bolt would hate it!’ Mark Rubbo, Readings ‘Expertly written, vast in scope…A compelling literary political thriller and a must-read commentary on the Australian political environment and its treatment of refugees.’ Better Read Than Dead ‘This is the mastery of Serong’s novel, understanding that fictional dystopias are at their most profound when they take the everyday and tilt it towards the darkness…it is a deeply considered novel that steers us to the logical conclusion of an entrenched system rooted equally in brutality and silence.’ Monthly ‘Terrifying, compelling.’ Australian Book Review ‘You might want to clear the decks before you start Jock Serong’s third thriller, because the odds are you won’t be able to put it down.’ SA Weekend ‘The best surf-related fiction I have read in a long, long time, possibly ever—Jock Serong’s riveting On the Java Ridge.’ Swell Net ‘The rescue and the scenes that follow it are the real heart of the book, and they are exceptional. Serong invests the chaos and confusion of the wreck and its bloody aftermath with a visceral power that makes for confronting but exhilarating reading.’ Australian ‘Taut and impressive.’ Age

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Any book that can change my stubborn opinions has to be good – no – great. This is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. The media tends to demonize refugees, casting them in a negative light. Like much of the public, I swallowed their bullshit hook, line and sinker. Sensationalist views by some press had us believing that most of the refugees had paid people smugglers to get to our country, so weren't “real” refugees. In fact, they give the impression that many, if not all, of th Any book that can change my stubborn opinions has to be good – no – great. This is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. The media tends to demonize refugees, casting them in a negative light. Like much of the public, I swallowed their bullshit hook, line and sinker. Sensationalist views by some press had us believing that most of the refugees had paid people smugglers to get to our country, so weren't “real” refugees. In fact, they give the impression that many, if not all, of the asylum seekers are criminals or religious fanatics. Yes it's true, some are. But what Jock Serong has done (through fiction based on fact) is to present the refugee's case. The true demons are the people smugglers themselves, and the politicians that seemingly don't know what compassion means. I have no doubt in my mind at all, that none of what Serong has written is far from the truth. Most refugees have suffered hard lives, and endured heartbreaking loss and seen dreadful things. While this book is written by an Australian, and set in Australia, it would have universal appeal. I'm sure the plot can be applied to almost any country that is the destination of asylum seekers. His writing style is impeccable and engaging. Refreshingly free from typos or grammos. The story builds to an exciting and unexpected finale, leaving just a tad at the end to the readers imagination. I loved it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    That was substantially darker than anticipated but the vengeful ending/comeuppance set me to rights. The inaugural winner of the Staunch Book Prize is an immigration horror story, a blistering critique of Australia’s privatized immigration system. Jock Serong managed to make the story human and not boring. I live too close to the border to have much sympathy for Taliban or cocaine funded illegal immigration. All the same, I felt bad about the bullying politicians and the families with few choice That was substantially darker than anticipated but the vengeful ending/comeuppance set me to rights. The inaugural winner of the Staunch Book Prize is an immigration horror story, a blistering critique of Australia’s privatized immigration system. Jock Serong managed to make the story human and not boring. I live too close to the border to have much sympathy for Taliban or cocaine funded illegal immigration. All the same, I felt bad about the bullying politicians and the families with few choices.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tim Armstrong

    Read the author's first book, "The Rules of Backyard Cricket" and loved that. But this is a real leap forward for Jock Serong and a profoundly salient reminder, whilst also a damning indictment, as to Australia's immigration policies, especially boat people. The plot is simple. Two boats - one full of surfers leaves Bali heading south. And another similar boat, leaves Sulawesi also heading south, towards Ashmore Reef, which is the edge of Australian territory. It's when they meet, by chance reall Read the author's first book, "The Rules of Backyard Cricket" and loved that. But this is a real leap forward for Jock Serong and a profoundly salient reminder, whilst also a damning indictment, as to Australia's immigration policies, especially boat people. The plot is simple. Two boats - one full of surfers leaves Bali heading south. And another similar boat, leaves Sulawesi also heading south, towards Ashmore Reef, which is the edge of Australian territory. It's when they meet, by chance really, that this book really opens up; and brilliantly. "On the Java Ridge" deserves great acclaim - the writing, at times is stunning in its simplicity and power. I hope it achieves wide recognition. It's special, and a book of it's time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sue Gerhardt Griffiths

    4.5 stars Jock Serong is a name I’m not familiar with so I did a little investigating before I read this book and discovered he has written two books previous to On the Java Ridge titled, Quota and The Rules of Backyard Cricket. I enjoyed Jock Serong’s writing so much I have added those two books to my TBR list. This is a gripping tale about a group of Australian surf tourists travelling on the vessel, the Java Ridge, looking for their next big wave, they anchor beside a reef off the Indonesian is 4.5 stars Jock Serong is a name I’m not familiar with so I did a little investigating before I read this book and discovered he has written two books previous to On the Java Ridge titled, Quota and The Rules of Backyard Cricket. I enjoyed Jock Serong’s writing so much I have added those two books to my TBR list. This is a gripping tale about a group of Australian surf tourists travelling on the vessel, the Java Ridge, looking for their next big wave, they anchor beside a reef off the Indonesian island of Dana, one wild stormy night sounds are heard and Isi Natoli, Java Ridge’s skipper, investigates and finds to her horror a sinking boat, the Takalar, carrying asylum seekers and there begins horrific events for the surfers and the boat people, that is unimaginable. On the Java Ridge is my first Australian political thriller read and despite the fact that it left me a little unsettled and had my heart crying during and at the close of this book I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it was a fascinating page turner. Many thanks to Text Publishing and Goodreads Giveaways for this review copy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Calzean

    The author jumps from gambling and corruption in sport (The Rules of Backyard Cricket) to a sad indictment on Australia's border protection beach. There is some brilliant and thrilling writing as well. The scene of the doctor surgery on the island will stick in my mind for a long time. The story tells of the contrast of a group of Australian surfers with that of a group of asylum seekers. Both are on boats in Indonesian waters but with different ideas of wants, needs and stresses. The other view The author jumps from gambling and corruption in sport (The Rules of Backyard Cricket) to a sad indictment on Australia's border protection beach. There is some brilliant and thrilling writing as well. The scene of the doctor surgery on the island will stick in my mind for a long time. The story tells of the contrast of a group of Australian surfers with that of a group of asylum seekers. Both are on boats in Indonesian waters but with different ideas of wants, needs and stresses. The other view in the book comes from the Minister of Border Integrity who finds he has a conscious and is suddenly very worried about how the refugee boat will be handled by the outsourced service provider contracted to handle border incursions. There is some credibility gaps in the story lines but these are minor in comparison with the thrill, sadness and cruelty of the story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    The novel opens with the Australian Minister for Border Integrity, Cassius Calvert, announcing the latest policy on border control - essentially passing the responsibility for monitoring the movement of boats of asylum seekers to a private company, Core Resolve. From that beginning, the inevitable tragedy is put in motion. Two similar boats (both Indonesian made): one carrying refugees, the other a tourist boat for Australian surfers. When one shelters from a storm and the other is wrecked on th The novel opens with the Australian Minister for Border Integrity, Cassius Calvert, announcing the latest policy on border control - essentially passing the responsibility for monitoring the movement of boats of asylum seekers to a private company, Core Resolve. From that beginning, the inevitable tragedy is put in motion. Two similar boats (both Indonesian made): one carrying refugees, the other a tourist boat for Australian surfers. When one shelters from a storm and the other is wrecked on the Indonesian island of Dana, the drama begins. This is a cleverly constructed book with something important to say about a possible (but logical) endpoint of Australia's inhumane management of the 'boat people' issue and the abandonment of responsibility by governments to private enterprise. I also liked the character development, particularly of Cassius Calvert, a man who begins with no evidence of conscience. The beautiful Afghani child, Roya, pulled this reader's heartstrings too. For the most part, this was a page turner - a political thriller with literary qualities. The pace was well managed. Some of the writing, especially about the sea, was lovely. There were also elements of humour (the chicken belonging to Cassius' son was a good touch). However, I was angry about the ending, feeling that the author had conned me somehow, but then the final twist redeemed the story, at least in part. I'm finding it hard to put my finger on why I was so absorbed in this novel while reading it but a little less admiring of it now that I have finished.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steven Griffiths

    4.5 stars A bloody great read! The Government stinks. Only a minor criticism, a bit slow getting to the point in one section. All in all a great tale.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    I'll be in a minority here, but I was disappointed by this book, I didn't click with the characters, was disappointed by the ending, and found it all a bit of a cliche. Sad as I had really enjoyed Jock Serong's The Rules of Backyard Cricket and was looking forward to this one. I'll be in a minority here, but I was disappointed by this book, I didn't click with the characters, was disappointed by the ending, and found it all a bit of a cliche. Sad as I had really enjoyed Jock Serong's The Rules of Backyard Cricket and was looking forward to this one.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Fran Whiteman

    4.5 stars- highly recommend Another thrilling book from Jock Serong.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Helen Maurice

    Sad, enlightening and informative political thriller. Couldn't put it down. Loved it!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘Six Australian flags hang rich and solemn, three each side of the doorway.’ One week out from an Australian Federal election, and the government announces a new hard-line policy regarding maritime assistance to asylum seekers vessels in distress. Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity makes the announcement: ‘From this point forward, no unidentified vessels in Australian territorial waters will be offered any form of maritime assistance. None .’ The Minister goes on to say that: ‘Any furth ‘Six Australian flags hang rich and solemn, three each side of the doorway.’ One week out from an Australian Federal election, and the government announces a new hard-line policy regarding maritime assistance to asylum seekers vessels in distress. Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity makes the announcement: ‘From this point forward, no unidentified vessels in Australian territorial waters will be offered any form of maritime assistance. None .’ The Minister goes on to say that: ‘Any further incursions into territorial waters will be met with remote measures by our private sector partners, Core Resolve. ’ To the west of Australia, two vessels set off. The Takalar sets out from Makassar carrying asylum-seekers, the Java Ridge sets out from Bali carrying a group of Australian surf tourists. The two vessels will meet at Pulau Dana, north-west of Ashmore Reef. Isi Natoli, skipper of the Java Ridge had another destination in mind, but an incoming storm changes her plans. The Java Ridge takes shelter inside a lagoon. The Takalar is experiencing engine trouble, and has limped around the island, seeking a way into the lagoon. They’ve seen the Java Ridge: ‘A boat just like theirs.’ Surely, now, they will be safe? In a fast-moving novel, full of drama, heartbreak and tension, Mr Serong had me hooked from near the beginning until the end. And the ending? Should I be grateful that it’s fiction, and cling to my belief that the Australian government would never be so callous? Or should I wonder where the fine line between fact and fiction is, and whether it might shift? There are many powerful passages in this novel but this one in particular will stay with me: ‘Look out wider, Minister. Forget about the boat people for a moment. This dependence on the private sector, it’s creating cracks for things to fall into. The mark of a totalitarian state isn’t all the picaresque violence and the rallies: it’s the fact that things start to vanish.’ An unsettling and disturbing read. A novel to read and discuss while we think about how we Australians wish to see Australia perceived in the wider world. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Setting: Australia & Indian Ocean. The Java Ridge is a pleasure craft operated by Joel and his partner Isi to take tourists to isolated surfing locations on the Indonesian archipelago. But on this trip Isi is on her own with her two native crewmen and 6 Australian tourists. At the same time a very similar boat, the Takalar, has left Sulawesi with a cargo of asylum seekers trying to get to Australia. However, in Australia, on the eve of a general election, the Minister for Border Integrity has ju Setting: Australia & Indian Ocean. The Java Ridge is a pleasure craft operated by Joel and his partner Isi to take tourists to isolated surfing locations on the Indonesian archipelago. But on this trip Isi is on her own with her two native crewmen and 6 Australian tourists. At the same time a very similar boat, the Takalar, has left Sulawesi with a cargo of asylum seekers trying to get to Australia. However, in Australia, on the eve of a general election, the Minister for Border Integrity has just announced a 'no-assistance' policy in respect of such boats, even in Australian waters and has employed a private company to 'intercept' these boats. When mechanical breakdown combines with a fierce storm, the Takalar is forced onto a reef off the island where Isi and her tourists are camped. The Takalar breaks up on the reef and Isi's people rescue a group of the asylum seekers and the captain of the Takalar and take them onto the island. When Isi finally sets sail for Australia, the scene is set for some disturbing events, against a background of an Australian administration refusing to provide any assistance for what they see as a potential refugee incursion or acknowledge that Australian lives are at risk. I had not heard of this author until I received a recommendation from a Goodreads friend to take a look at his book The Rules of Backyard Cricket - not been able to get that one yet but found this one at our local library which, surprisingly, no-one else has read. The tale was topical and gripping with a thoroughly shocking ending - can't fail to give this one a 5 star rating - 10/10.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maree Hodgess

    On the Java Ridge is a story told from three different perspectives. You have the Java Ridge vessel which is carrying a group of Australian surf tourists and is skippered by Isi Natoli. They encounter the Takalar which is carrying a large group of asylum seekers and has shipwrecked over a reef. Among the survivors is a young girl named Roya and her pregnant mother. In Canberra the Minister for Border Integrity, Cassius Calvert, is trying to wade through a sea of political jargon and secrecy to g On the Java Ridge is a story told from three different perspectives. You have the Java Ridge vessel which is carrying a group of Australian surf tourists and is skippered by Isi Natoli. They encounter the Takalar which is carrying a large group of asylum seekers and has shipwrecked over a reef. Among the survivors is a young girl named Roya and her pregnant mother. In Canberra the Minister for Border Integrity, Cassius Calvert, is trying to wade through a sea of political jargon and secrecy to get to the truth, despite the fact he is fiercely ambitious and is dealing with painful personal issues. The tension builds until it becomes almost tangible as those on board the Java Ridge become increasingly desperate and face many challenges in their bid for freedom and safety. I loved the pacing of this book and the way each character was beautifully written and felt so relateable. I won't include any spoilers in this review but I will say that there are many shocks in store and I can see this book having an influence on many people who have preconceived notions regarding asylum seekers and the way they are dealt with.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Wilson

    On The Java Ridge by Jock Serong proved to be more enthralling than expected. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I was captivated by the cast of characters and the evolving plot. When a group of people fleeing their country for a safer life encounter boat troubles at sea, they are at the mercy of a group of Australian surf tourists. I found it interesting how Serong played out not only what actions/inactions and decisions were made by the tourists, but the gradual character development On The Java Ridge by Jock Serong proved to be more enthralling than expected. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I was captivated by the cast of characters and the evolving plot. When a group of people fleeing their country for a safer life encounter boat troubles at sea, they are at the mercy of a group of Australian surf tourists. I found it interesting how Serong played out not only what actions/inactions and decisions were made by the tourists, but the gradual character development and the effects of encountering a group of 'boat people' in a stressful real-life situation, and not just as a political conversation. I thought it was clever how Serong highlighted the political implications and influences, and I appreciated the role each of the characters played. It was interesting to me how the PM was never referenced by name, just by their role as PM. This book was very engaging and gripping, and I am very thankful to have received an advance copy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gill

    Tossing up between a 1 and a 2 for this. Points only for the fact that I know that the discussion at book club should be interesting- a lot of discussion points will be brought up. Personally I thought it was beyond cliche and cringeworthy. It was like the author had a list of issues and characters to tick off a (very long) list. Anyone want my $29.99 copy? Ughhh

  22. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. As I commented after breathlessly finishing this book, I was hating Jock Serong til he added 'All the Press Gallery" right at the end. Amazing book, too scarily close to our truth today in Australia and what's being done by the Government in our names

  23. 5 out of 5

    Xueting

    Just found out this book won the inaugural Staunch prize, for a thriller “in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered.” Awesome.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    It's three-and-a-half stars really... On the Java Ridge has a bit of a slow start, but once it gets going, it becomes a page turner. The third novel of Jock Serong, it tackles Australia’s shameful refugee policies head on with a vivid tale set in the seas off the Indonesian archipelago. There are three strands to the story… The Java Ridge is a traditional Indonesian style boat, kitted out with reliable fast engines and every available navigation and communication device, together with the sort of l It's three-and-a-half stars really... On the Java Ridge has a bit of a slow start, but once it gets going, it becomes a page turner. The third novel of Jock Serong, it tackles Australia’s shameful refugee policies head on with a vivid tale set in the seas off the Indonesian archipelago. There are three strands to the story… The Java Ridge is a traditional Indonesian style boat, kitted out with reliable fast engines and every available navigation and communication device, together with the sort of luxuries that privileged westerners expect when they trawl Indonesian coastlines looking for the perfect wave. The boat is skippered by Isi Natoli while her boyfriend stays back in Australia to cadge some more money out of the banks to keep the business afloat. The Takalar is a genuine Indonesian boat, tatty and unsafe, and overloaded with refugees heading for Australia. On board is a very pregnant mother and her daughter Roya, who becomes a crucial character because she’s the only one who can speak a bit of English. And in Canberra there is the Minister for Border Integrity Cassius Calvert, with an election imminent, delivering press releases about harsh new refugee policies to the media. Basically, the policy offloads to Indonesia, all responsibility for providing assistance to asylum-seeker boats in distress, and they’ve outsourced surveillance to a private company called Core Resolve. The slow start introduces what you’d expect: a bunch of surfers with distinct personalities, none of them people I’d want to add to my address book; a bunch of refugees with the kind of sad stories that sadly we’ve all heard before; and a bunch of political animals with characteristics that seem eerily familiar to anyone who’s kept a weary eye on Canberra politics over the last few years. It’s when these worlds collide that things hoover along. To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2017/09/16/o...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Helmut Schneider

    Spoiler alert: this book will shock you more than a slasher movie. Provided you have a sense of decency and normality. That is not because the book is bad, but because its horrible scenario is so plausible. It is a political dystopia, an adventure story (until it turns into an orgy of violence), a contemporary crime story, and a tragedy. No mystery here, just dark views of international politics. Middle Eastern boat people and their smugglers, Australian politicians & tourists in a wild and storm Spoiler alert: this book will shock you more than a slasher movie. Provided you have a sense of decency and normality. That is not because the book is bad, but because its horrible scenario is so plausible. It is a political dystopia, an adventure story (until it turns into an orgy of violence), a contemporary crime story, and a tragedy. No mystery here, just dark views of international politics. Middle Eastern boat people and their smugglers, Australian politicians & tourists in a wild and stormy encounter. Recommended if you are interested in Indonesia, Australia, the ‘Middle East’ refugee crisis, and the ocean in general. Not quite Josef Conrad, but not bad at all in its sea writing. Much surfing knowledge apparent. The Australian government has concluded an agreement with Indonesia, that all ocean traffic from Indonesia to Australia will be checked and controlled by Indonesia. At the same time, the Australian government outsources maritime security to a private outfit. No refugees will be allowed to enter Australia forthwith. Before this new arrangement became effective, Indonesian policemen have already been bribed to sabotage refugee boats. We follow the unfolding of the tragedy from three perspectives: from Canberra, where an election is coming up, from a tour boat for Australian surfers cruising innocently among the Sunda islands, and from an Indonesian fishing vessel carrying refugees from Sulawesi towards Australia. Nobody on the two boats seems aware of latest political decisions. One wishes this whole setup were nothing but fantasy.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kerrie

    It is a week to the Australian Federal election, and the Prime Minister and the Minister for Border Security are emphasising the success of the government's policy on boat asylum seekers. Arrivals in Australian waters are almost unknown because all boats heading for Australia are being processed by the Indonesian authorities. Surveillance of Australian waters has been outsourced and the Australian Navy will now take no action to assist asylum seekers arriving by boat. Two boats, very similar in d It is a week to the Australian Federal election, and the Prime Minister and the Minister for Border Security are emphasising the success of the government's policy on boat asylum seekers. Arrivals in Australian waters are almost unknown because all boats heading for Australia are being processed by the Indonesian authorities. Surveillance of Australian waters has been outsourced and the Australian Navy will now take no action to assist asylum seekers arriving by boat. Two boats, very similar in design, but one much better equipped, are heading towards Australia through Indonesia. One is a surf charter boat containing Australian tourists looking for big waves to surf and the other is an Indonesian fishing boat filled with Middle Eastern refugees. That these two boats will meet is an inevitable part of the plot. Predictably part of the plot is about how the government's new hardline policy will impact on both these boats, but my wildest dreams did not predict the ending. The book raises some interesting scenarios among them an explanation of why so few boats have reached Ashmore Reef recently. The Prime Minister sees Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, as a weak link, a loose cannon, although his hold on his own seat is thought to be better than that of the Prime Minister. Interesting insights into the workings of the Australian Cabinet.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Dixon

    Chilling. The reader is subjected to a thoroughly believable story of refugees heading for Australia, and the violence of the seas and of humanity bringing them into conjunction with a boat of Australian surfing tourists sheltering at an uninhabited Indonesian island. I say ‘subjected to’ because alongside the drama and the personal stories that strengthen the reader’s connection to it, we have the cut-throat world of politics with all the worst of the callous and self-serving policies that infor Chilling. The reader is subjected to a thoroughly believable story of refugees heading for Australia, and the violence of the seas and of humanity bringing them into conjunction with a boat of Australian surfing tourists sheltering at an uninhabited Indonesian island. I say ‘subjected to’ because alongside the drama and the personal stories that strengthen the reader’s connection to it, we have the cut-throat world of politics with all the worst of the callous and self-serving policies that inform so much of governing bodies everywhere. This is my introduction to this author. It will not be the only book I read by him!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A powerful fictional response to Australia's ongoing treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. While all the elements signpost the tragedy to follow, the ending still hits you in the face with the feeling any car crash survivor will recognise - time seems both to slow and speed up simultaneously, and those involved are helpless to prevent the impact. Serong's mastery of the Australian vernacular is a continuing cause for celebration and admiration. On the Java Ridge is a masterclass in politically- A powerful fictional response to Australia's ongoing treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. While all the elements signpost the tragedy to follow, the ending still hits you in the face with the feeling any car crash survivor will recognise - time seems both to slow and speed up simultaneously, and those involved are helpless to prevent the impact. Serong's mastery of the Australian vernacular is a continuing cause for celebration and admiration. On the Java Ridge is a masterclass in politically-inflected drama. Seriously disturbing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I didn't buy the story, I didn't like the characters, I found it clichéd and eye-roll inducing.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cam

    Jock Serong a sure thing!

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