An insightful new book has recently been published, ‘Bali 50 Years of Changes’, by Eric Buvelot and Dr. Jean Couteau. As the book’s title suggests, it is an account of the socio-cultural evolutions that Bali has experienced in the last half-century, uniquely presented as a conversation  between Eric and Jean. Originally written in French, the English version was translated by author Diana Darling, published by Interactive Publications Pty Ltd. 

About ‘Bali, 50 Years of Changes’
Purchase a Copy
Reviews and Testimonies 


About Bali, 50 Years of Changes

Often when people talk of changes on the island, it is with a bitter discontent. Nostalgia-fuelled complaints comparing the Bali they first experienced to what it has become today. If more of us were lucky enough to experience the island in the 70s or 80s, it is likely we would be the same.


However, these lamentations are often centred on the visual. The changes of land-use, the loss of ‘pristine’ lands, replaced by rampant modern development and lifestyles. In ‘Bali, 50 Years of Changes’, Eric and Jean dig much deeper into Bali’s transformations and take an objective, bird’s eye of view of how Balinese society, culture, traditions and even religion have been affected by the island’s exposure to globalisation and so-called ‘progress’. 

The book’s subtitle, ‘A Conversation with Jean Couteau’, hints at its format. Published in an interview style, Eric Buvelot combs diligently through Jean’s memory and mastery of Balinese culture, probing ever-deeper into specific subjects, carefully comparing the historical and contemporary.

Their conversation covers a range of topics, from sexual behavior to religious practices, the engagement of Balinese with foreigners and other Indonesians, issues of tolerance, violence, economy, spirituality, cultural evolution, and the shift of mentality from myth to rational thinking. The result is a comprehensive and insightful exploration of the truly unique society that makes this island so interesting. The book is separated into four sections (Kama, Arta, Darma, Moksa), with 16 separate subjects. 

You might ask, what gives these two Frenchmen the right to discuss such a subject?


You will find that there is no one more qualified to bridge Bali with the world than Dr Jean Couteau. An observer of Bali for over 40 years, Jean is a graduate of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and former lecturer at the Denpasar Institut Seni Indonesia (Indonesian Institute of the Arts), he is a reputed specialist on Balinese culture. He has authored: Puri Lukisan (2000), Un Autre Temps: Les Calendriers Tika de Bali (2004), Bali Inspires (2011), Time, Rites and Festivals in Bali (2013, with Georges Breguet), and Myth, Magic and Mystery in Bali (2018) – to name a few. He is a multilingual writer, contributing for Indonesia’s national paper, Kompas, with his column “Udar Rasa” published in the Sunday cultural page (in Bahasa Indonesia). He also contributes a monthly cultural piece for NOW! Bali. 

As for Eric Buvelot, he is a senior reporter and writer residing in Bali since 1995. He started his career in France at the daily Libération where he stayed 10 years and learned the ropes of journalism. He has written hundreds of articles about Bali and Indonesia, in French or English, mostly for La Gazette de Bali as chief editor for 13 years, then expanding into leading English language media outlets of Indonesia like The Jakarta Post, NOW! Bali and the French language Le Banian.


Eric’s combination as professional journalist and longtime Bali examiner allows him to ask Jean the right questions, and the two flow like friends in deep and insightful discussion. The conversational style of the book makes it an enjoyable and digestible read, even when it comes to complex subjects. A book that provides its reader with in-depth and nuanced knowledge of Bali.

As mentioned, the book was first published in French, the authors’ native language. For this English version they turned to renowned writer Diana Darling, author of ‘The Painted Alphabet’, a classic novel of Bali; ‘Bali, Ancient Rites in the Digital Age’; amongst other writings. Her knowledge of Bali, alongside her command of both the English and French language made her the perfect translator for this one-of-a-kind publication.

Eric and Jean have both contributed to NOW! Bali with excerpts from the book, featured on our website in their own column here.

Purchase a Copy

This first edition English version (2022) is a very limited print; interested parties are advised to order quickly to secure a copy. Book is a soft cover, 229mm x 152mm, with a total of 272 pages. 

Recommended Retail Price is IDR 400.000.

For international orders and e-Book version, please visit the Publisher’s website: 

For original French version please visit:

Reviews and Testimonies 

“Bali, 50 Years is an exceptional book readable by all and dealing with the impact of fifty years of deep changes on Balinese society, culture, life and psyche. Jean Couteau, interviewed by Eric Buvelot, responds brilliantly to this important issue in a style accessible to all.”
– Georges Breguet (Anthropologist, Museum consultant) 

“Jean, your book with Eric is fascinating. The information is fragmented because of the rapid-fire questions, but the [interview method] enables you to deliver an extraordinary amount of knowledge: you have truly reflected on all aspects of Balinese life.”
Henri Chambert Loir (Prof. Emeritus Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient)

‘Go beyond the usual clichés by reading Jean Couteau’s in-depth analysis of the tremendous transformations Bali has known these past five decades: society, religion, economy, women’s rights, environment… Nothing published so far approaches it. And I love the conversation format: very dynamic.”
Cecile Collineau (Book reviewer, Le Petit Journal Jakarta) 

Edward Speirs

Edward Speirs

Edward, or Eddy as he prefers to be called, is the Managing Editor of NOW! Bali and host of the NOW! Bali Podcast. He enjoys photography, rural travel and loves that his work introduces him to people from all walks of life.