Translated by James Riordan


9781846590320 July 2007 Paperback 96pp

About the Book

Jamilia’s husband is off fighting at the front. She spends her days hauling sacks of grain from the threshing floor to the train station in their small village, accompanied by Seit, her young brother-in-law, and Daniyar, a sullen newcomer to the village who has been wounded on the battlefield.

Seit observes the beautiful, spirited Jamilia spurn men’s advances, and wince at the dispassionate letters she receives from her husband. Meanwhile, undeterred by Jamilia’s teasing, Daniyar sings as they return each evening from the fields. Soon Jamilia is in love, and she and Daniyar elope just as her husband returns.

About the Author

Chingiz Aïtmatov (1928-2008) is Kyrgystan's best know literary figure. His fiction, prose and plays, written in both his native Kyrgyz and in Russian, have appeared in over one hundred languages. Aïtmatov was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lenin prize.

About the Translator

James Riordan (1936-2012) was an English novelist, broadcaster, association football player and Russian scholar. Riordan's first novel Sweet Clarinet won the NASEN award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children's Book Award.


'The most beautiful love story in the world.'
Louis Aragon

'James Riordan has rendered Aïtmatov's prose into simple yet lyrical English.'

'A simple and beautiful evocation of time, place and the power of love...deserves to be known as one of the world's great and timeless love stories.'

'A beautiful love story...the relationship that grows between Jamilia and co-worker Daniyar, a sullen soldier new to the village who has arrived wounded from the war, is subtle and beautifully developed.'
The Bookseller

'An extremely brave, tremblingly vivid and skillful writer...a song that flew against the ideology of the time, showing that life is always bigger and more complicated than any superimposed schemes.'
Hamid Ismailov, author of The Railway

'Punctuated by beautiful scenes of human kindness, wisdom, love and devotion, and set against the background of the stunning central Asian landscape'

'A prolific and engaged writer'

'Deftly renders village life in vivid colour'
The Times

'[The author], with a sparse prose manages to paint a vivid and evocative picture of the working life and surroundings for his characters, and weaves a truly lovely story, that was a joy read'
Bart's Bookshelf

'Jamilia evokes a time and a place and a voice that is different from anything else you are likely to read this year. It steps outside normal boundaries and, whilst being about song, is a song in itself.'
The Stardust Reader