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Jamilia

by Chingiz Aitmatov

Jamilia is a simple, beautifully told story of first love set in Kyrgyzstan during the Second World War. At just under 100 pages it has to be read in one go to capture the essence of the book.

Extract

And all of a sudden I began to understand his strangeness that made people shrug and mock; his dreaminess, his love of solitude, his silent manner. Now I understand why he sat on the look-out hill of an evening and why he constantly hearkened to sounds others could not hear and why his eyes would suddenly gleam and his drawn eyebrows twitch. He was a man deeply in love. I felt it was not simply a love for another person, it was somehow an uncommon, expansive love for life and earth. He had kept this love within himself, in his music, in his very being. A person with no feeling, no matter how good his voice, could never have sung like that.
Translated by James Riordan

Parallels

First Love by Ivan Turgenev
 

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