Christopher Parnell was born in Sydney Australia in 1953 and went to school in Brisbane, Queensland. He left school at 14 to become an apprentice jockey in Sydney but left the country in 1972 at age 19, to work in a logging camp in Papua New Guinea. He returned to Australia in 1996. After spending nearly a quarter of a century out of his mother country Australia. He was 43 years old when he returned. After living 25 years in Asia, he tried his hands in many businesses from tourist boating in Hong Kong, to bus treks on the hippy trail through India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Northern Frontier Provinces. Parnell was in Vietnam in 1975 during the refugee evacuation of Da Nang; here he worked as a deckhand on a freelance merchant ship, the Garruby. In Afghanistan in 1979, when the Russians invaded the country, he was instrumental there in evacuating a number of top Government and Military Officials.
During his first decade as an Australian citizen living abroad, Parnell operated a very successful equestrian centre, the Balaju Tar Riding Academy in Katmandu, Nepal. The school catered for the children and families of diplomatic staff in the region and was, for a time, profitable enough for Chris and his family to employ a substantial staff. However, hard times hit in the early 1980’s and although he was determined to remain in the area and retain his business interests, Parnell was considering returning to Australia with the urging of his wife.
Over the next 11 years, Parnell unsuccessfully tried to escape on five occasions by such imaginative means as feigning mental illness, drugging prison guards, digging a tunnel and more conventionally, going over the wall. Such efforts led him through a string of Prisons. Including a combination Leper Colony & Salt Mine. Known throughout Indonesia as “The end of the road” Madura a remote island off Java. Parnell had to pull on all of his skills and experiences of life in Asia to literally survive in the Indonesian hellholes, where depravation of food, water, medicines, and all human rights are the accepted thing. He was subject to unthinkable sessions of torture, many of them because of unimaginable bureaucratic bungles by Foreign Affairs and Australian Consulate staff. Left to starve and fight every day for his survival, Parnell became a man forced to eat everything from cockroaches to human flesh.
He and his family subsequently traveled to Bali for a holiday, on route back to Australia. The Family had been in Bali barely 2 hours when the Losman (guest house, bungalow) was raided by police who claimed to have uncovered 12.5 kg of hashish. This hashish was hidden in two statues cemented to the floor of a bathroom. This bathroom was in a completely different complex to the one Christopher Parnell and his family was staying at. The hashish was also found 8 months before Christopher Parnell and his family entered the country. Never the less, Parnell was arrested for “Suspicion of transporting Drugs.” Though there was no physical evidence.
Finally in 1994, he was attacked as he slept, by five Indonesian prisoners, and stabbed so ferociously, Prison Officials took him to the hospital where the Indonesian Doctors pronounced him dead. He then lay in a hospital morgue for five hours before a Chinese Christian Lady who had come to prepare his body for burial, discovered that he was in fact alive. He had lost an eye, his spleen, his gall bladder, approximately one meter of his lower intestine, and the bottom half of his right lung. Subsequently, he contracted Hepatitis A, B & C from the 28 bags of donated blood that was pumped into his mutilated body.
The following year Parnell suffered a stroke, caused by a blood clot, a legacy left by a knife wound from that vicious attack. His release from prison in September 1996, came in the form of a Presidential Pardon, and was largely due to the change in the Australian Government. Between becoming re-accustomed to Australia, which has included learning to think and speak with the English language after years of speaking Asian languages and dialects he is attempting to form the thousands of writings he kept while incarcerated into Books. He is now the author of 2 published novels “The Sunday Smuggler” published by HarperCollins Publishers in Australia. “Hell’s Prisoner” published by Mainstream publishers in U.K. along with these 2 published books Parnell has written 5 other novels.
Christopher Parnell now lives in Tropical Queensland, where he lives with his wife and son, the two most important loves and anchors in his life. He was informed by his Psychiatrist... Quote: “That you act too normal, you appear too normal for someone to have endured such horrendous tortures and depravations. Therefore your facade of Normalcy is totally abnormal.”
Psychiatric Evaluation…. Too Normal to be Normal.
The jacket and online reviews I've read simply don't do justice to this author. The brutality and horror of Indonesian prisons comprises about 20% of the book, with the rest an entertaining and often hilarious testimony to bawdy Aussie humour, the author's indefatigable spirit, sense of fun, and ability to get one over on his captors.
Cherish the early chapter when, awaiting trial, he tries to act insane by competing with the other imbecile inmates, and later, when facing a beating from the guards, he scatters them by throwing his own excrement at them, to the hilarity of his fellow captives.
If you like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "Derek and Clive" ( and even if not ) you'll love this. In parts the funniest book I've read in years. Every library should have a copy