Friday, 28 October 2016

Nirzona by Abidah El Khalieqy

30333081When Sidan’s family and village are swept away in the 2004 tsunami that ravaged Indonesia, he rushes home to Aceh, leaving behind Yogyakarta, his studies, and his beloved, Firdaus. Interrupting their plan to marry, Sidan promises Firdaus he will soon return to her side so they can spend the rest of their lives together.

But the unimaginable scale of loss and the political and cultural complexities that ensnare the recovery make it impossible for Sidan to abandon his birthplace and the graves of his family. Stoked by his love for Firdaus and their shared devotion to the poetic beauty of Islam, Sidan remains in Aceh, doing everything in his power to help the survivors while keeping in close contact with his beloved.

In spirit Sidan and Firdaus are one, but in body they are distant. Theirs is a love bonded in the transcendent fires of death and destruction, but is that enough to sustain the relationship?

Author Abidah El Khalieqy was born in 1965 in Jombang, East Java. She graduated from an all-girls Persatuan Islam boarding school in Pasuruan and Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in Yogyakarta. She began to write in her youth and has had a productive career, publishing nine novels, most recently Mimpi Anak Pulau (An Island Child’s Dream, 2013); two short story collections; and the poetry collection Ibuku Laut Berkobar (My Mother Is the Shining Sea, 1997). Her 2001 novel Perempuan Berkalung Sorban (The Woman in the Turban) was adapted for the screen and won several awards. Geni Jora (Light of the Morning Star, 2003) was judged Best Novel by the Jakarta Arts Council in 2003.

El Khalieqy’s work gives a voice to women, including victims of polygamy and domestic violence, whom she feels are still often marginalized in Indonesia. Her work has been widely anthologized and has received numerous awards.