Title: Jamilia (“Джамиля”)
Author: Chingiz Aitmatov
Genre: Adult Fiction, Cultural Interest
Published in: 1958
My rating: 4 stars
This was the fourth book I read for the #AsianLitBingo Challenge. I must say that I loved it. I went into it with high expectations and I was not let down! This had first been recommended to me by one of my best friends, so I had to get around to it sometime. Since it was such a short book and I was in the mood for some character analysis, it was the perfect read. I can’t recommend it enough!
The narrator is an artist, Seit, who goes back decades to his childhood to tell this story. It centers around the character of Jamila (also spelled Jamilia or Djamila), his sister-in-law. This woman stays behind in their small Kyrgyzstani town when her husband goes to war during WWII.
Seit becomes increasingly fascinated by Jamila. He gets to know her more and they manage to talk during the errands they must run to help the war efforts. Left behind and with little to no loving words from her husband, Jamila changes. Until one day, she becomes interested in the town’s “crippled” and everything changes.
Because this is such a short book, I decided to write a short review as well. I’m going to experiment with bullet points! Here is what I liked about this novella:
- the character of Jamila — It’s no secret I love mysterious and intriguing female characters. Jamila is the definition of this. She’s enigmatic and secretive, which only made me want to learn more about her. I wanted to know more exactly what moved her! What she was passionate about! I’m glad we don’t learn too much about her — it only makes the story even better!
- Seit’s point of view — I really like it when the narrator is not one of the main characters. I think that this device worked particularly well in this story. We only get to witness Jamila and Daniyar from afar. We see exactly what the little boy Seit sees. It builds the mystery, it makes the story confusing and all the more worth it!
- the element of painting — Seit is, at the time of his writing the book, an established painter. In this novel, we get to experience him coming to touch with his own artistic size. This friendship him, Daniyar and Jamila develop clearly had an impact on him. We can see this in the way he changes his outlook on art and life. I loved it. It was such a wholesome subplot.
- the descriptions and writing — Now that I’ve read this book, I’d love to go to a retreat on the Kyrgyzstani mountains. The author made every aspect of the scenery beautiful. Aitmatov’s writing style made everything stand out. We get an amazing awe-inspiring picture of the lake, the mountains and the green pastures. It tied really well with the painting subplot!
If you’re looking for a short novella that studies one character, look no further. This is an incredibly written book, following a cast of very interesting people. You’ll also get a taste of what rural Kyrgyzstan looks like!
🌻 Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it! It definitely isn’t talked much about, but I think it deserves all the attention it can get 🌻