A beautiful and vibrant novella - in fact this little gem is so brief in length, it can barely be called a novella, more of a short and vivid encounter.
Seit lives in Krygyzstan, in Central Asia, he is fifteen years old and his older brothers are away fighting at the front during WW2. Jamilia is the wife of Seit's brother, Sadyk, and whilst Sadyk is away, she spends her days hauling sacks of grain and then driving them by horse and cart to the train station in their small village. Jamilia is strong, beautiful, spirited and resourceful, but becoming despondent by the lack of affection that has been shown to her by her husband, she becomes attracted to a newcomer, Daniyar, a soldier who has been wounded and who has come to the village to find work.
Daniyar, a quiet and deeply brooding young man, initially keeps himself very much to himself, but as he spends more time in Seit and Jamilia's company, his attraction to Jamilia becomes very obvious. Seit is torn between feelings of loyalty to his brother, his own strong feelings for Jamilia, and the guilt of his pleasure at seeing Jamilia and Daniyar fall hopelessly in love. But how far does this love go? And can, or should, Seit attempt to intervene?
First published in 1957 and translated into English for this edition in 2007, 'Jamilia' is a beautiful and quietly powerful love story where the author uses a prose that is quite simple yet very lyrical. A lovely short story where the characters and their feelings are vibrantly brought to life for the reader - it's just a shame that this is such a short read.
Note: There is not a lot of this author's work available in translation, but I feel this very brief novella should have been included with another of the author's novels, or perhaps it could have been published with a lower cover price - I read this in my lunch break!