Finding Myself in Borneo
Bronze, 2020 Independent Publisher Book Award
Winner, 2019 NM-AZ Book Awards
In addition, it won and honorable mention at in the Readers' Favorite Book Awards.
McKee’s book is an honest, buoyant chronicle of a young Canadian man’s adventures during 1968–70, while teaching secondary school as a CUSO volunteer in Sabah, Malaysia.
Travel on his journey through vibrant Asian cultures as he learns the craft of teaching, the Malay language and local customs, and makes many friends in his small community. He climbs the highest peak in Southeast Asia—Mount Kinabalu—has a love affair, and navigates Borneo’s backwaters to make his first of many documentary films.
McKee travels by freighter to Indonesia, where he discovers the scars of that country’s recent genocide, a contrast to his hilarious motorcycle journeys in Sabah with his American Peace Corps buddy. They make a hallucinogenic discovery—North Borneo is, indeed, J. R. R.
Tolkien’s famed Middle-Earth of The Lord of the Rings! The enterprising duo establish the North Borneo Frodo Society (NBFS), an organization Tolkien joins. McKee’s return trips are poignant reminders of the value in cultural exchange.
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Finding Myself in Borneo chronicles, with good humor, a young man’s adventures while teaching secondary school as a Canadian CUSO volunteer in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo), 1968–70.
260 pages / 60 photos / 5.5 x 8.5
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-7329457-0-8. $16.95
Ebook (in color) ISBN: 978-1-7329457-2-2 $8.99
Audiobook ISBN: 978-1-7329457-1-5 $14.99
Prices in USD and vary by retail outlet.
Subjects: Travel Memoir / Southeast Asia / History/ Personal Growth / Language Learning and Teaching / Environment / International Relations / Social Service Organizations
Finding Myself in Borneo
Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah by Neill McKee is a travel memoir that informs and entertains readers and brings them into contact with exciting places, characters, and communities in Asia. The last day of work at his father's factory was on July 4, 1968, and standing behind the rear wall where he could see the valley and creek flowing past, Neill McKee offers readers the first glimpse into his exciting mind and adventurous spirit: "Despite this toxic playground, I recall an ideal childhood, a loving family, and—as I grew older—increasing freedom to explore farther and farther from home. I believe my love of travel and discovery started here." In this memoir, the author shares his adventures from 1968-1970 while teaching secondary school as a CUSO volunteer in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo). The author shares his unique experiences of encounters with Asian cultures, the excitement of learning a new language, the thrill of falling in love, and the adventures through colorful and beautiful landscapes.
Told in an atmospheric style of writing, the memoir explores the inner world of the protagonist and how contact with other places and people, new friendships and challenges allowed him to see himself better. It is a tender, highly observant memoir of the author’s sojourn in Sabah, a memoir that captures both the landscapes of his soul and the beauty of the world that surrounded him. Neill McKee weaves strong themes into the narrative, including friendship, education, personal growth, adventure, love, and family. At times wry and at times filled with humor, Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah is a memoir that is told in an honest voice and will inspire readers to think about how they relate to the world they inhabit. It’s simply brilliant.
I enjoyed the author's account of his work in Borneo as well as his account of life as a young man in a foreign land. His international perspective of turbulent times is eye opening and his local perspective of his teaching work shows his dedication to his work. A great read.
“Honest and thought-provoking memoir…. Finding Myself in Borneo is full of stories of love, uneasiness, and pure joy.”
An absolutely wonderful memoir. McKee's book is far more than a look back at lessons learned as a young man (although it certainly is that) and a reflection on how we (and places) change. The work is filled with adventure, humor, sadness, and joy. I hope you'll join Neill's adventure.
I find that I cannot read an autobiography unless I can relate to it in some manner. Neill McKee, co-Founder of the North Borneo Frodo Society, and I have some common themes in our lives but he was the adventurous one.... I rarely read books twice, but this one I did. If you like truthful, reflective stories of far away places with a good dose of Tolkien fandom thrown in, I urge you to buy the book!
My experience of reading the book verged on the magical. I felt so close to the places, the people, their day to day life, I can say that I know the place without ever being there. Indeed, after first reading it a few weeks earlier, I have looked it up quite a few times, feeling like renewing my associations with the people and places McKee describes. There is always something new to explore. The wit and humor description alongside the seriousness of issues including political turmoil makes the book so much more enthralling. It is a page turner of a rare kind. I look forward to another book by McKee similarly enthralling and down to earth. If Borneo has claimed him, McKee too has claimed the loyalty of his readers. I know I’ll be one of his captive readers, always.
From the very beginning, Neill McKee makes us feel part of his expansive journey and with great honesty shares the ups and downs of his cross-cultural adventure. His writing is totally accessible and relatable. Through Mc Kee's story and style, we can feel how the struggle to adjust and survive in an alien culture might be for us.
“Neill is totally honest about his experiences, ranging from learning to teach in a foreign environment to learning about life in general and indeed learning about love in particular. His interpretations of the people and religion, politics and culture come from a positive and open mind, and a willingness to embrace a new ethos.”
There is much to love about Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah by Neill McKee. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or someone who never leaves home, you'll absolutely love this story (which is why I won't get into too many of the details - go grab yourself a copy and enjoy it for yourself)! I have not had the opportunity to travel, so what stood out for me was McKee's ability as a storyteller. He transported me with him to Mount Kinabalu and I was able to experience and adventure with him. His sense of humor and lust for life also spoke to me as a reader and made excited to keep turning those pages! I read Finding Myself in Borneo in one sitting. It was a page turner I couldn't put down! The writing was delightful and the stories were told with such skill! I would recommend this book to others and I can't wait to read for of McKee's story in his next memoir!
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I was going to save it to read while I was in Cuba in March, but I decided to look at a few pages the week before and could not put it down. So I was left having to find something else to take to Cuba.
McKee captures well the essence and life in Borneo as a Canadian CUSO volunteer. The great flavours and mix of interesting cultures and history in this region resonate with my own experiences in this wonderful country with great people. I highly recommend this excellent book.