Jamilia is the first major novel by Chingiz Aytmatov, published originally in Russian in 1958. The novel is told from the point of view of a fictional Kyrgyz artist, Seit, who tells the story by looking back on his childhood. The story recounts the love between his new sister-in-law Jamilya and a local crippled young man, Daniyar, while Jamilia’s husband, Sadyk, is “away at the front” (as a Soviet soldier during World War II).
Based on clues in the story, it takes place in northwestern Kyrgyzstan, presumably Talas Province. The story is backdropped against the collective farming culture which was early in its peak in that period.
Louis Aragon lauded the novelette as the “world’s most beautiful love story”.
Translated by James Riordan.
Chingiz Aïtmatov was born in Kyrgyzstan in 1928. His work appeared in over one hundred languages, and received numerous awards, including the Lenin Prize. He was the Kyrgyz ambassador to the European Union, NATO, UNESCO and the Benelux countries.