Hotel K

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 February, 2011, 12:00am

Hotel K
by Kathryn Bonella
Quercus, HK$221

Readers know what to expect from Hotel K from the off. After all, the subject is a maximum-security jail in Indonesia. Inmates include murderers, drug pushers and terror bombers, or, as Kathryn Bonella describes them, the country's 'worst psychopaths and sadistic criminals'. K, for Kerobokan, is also the prison housing Schapelle Corby, the Australian woman who, in 2005, was nabbed at Bali's Denpasar airport with 4.2kg of marijuana. Bonella, who interviewed Corby in jail every day for months and wrote her autobiography, met many others at Hotel K, where, she says, Westerners 'continually check in and out', some buying their way to better cells, others paying for a shorter stay, a few never leaving again. Bonella's portrayal of the jail, which holds men and women, will make readers flinch with its graphic descriptions of violence and debauchery taking place under the eyes of bent guards. On 'sex nights', hookers, girlfriends and wives enter the jail to couple with their lovers wherever they can. Although many inmates are hard core, there are also tourists inside for possession of just one ecstasy tablet. This book might dissuade others from trying their luck.