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Cigarette Girl

Book / Novel — Women in Translation


Cigarette Girl

by Ratih Kumala
Translated by Annie Tucker

Format: Paperback, English
296 page(s)
ISBN/ISBN13: /9786020318691
Published Oct 19, 2015 by Gramedia Pustaka Utama

View on Goodreads | Google Books



Pak Raja is gravely ill. On his deathbed, he calls the name of a woman who isn’t his wife: Jeng Yah. His three sons, the heirs to the Djagad Raja Clove Cigarette dynasty, are thrown into an uproar and their mother is consumed by jealousy. Racing against time, Lebas, Karim and Tegar go to the most remote corners of Java to fi nd Jeng Yah before death comes to claim their father.

The journey takes them on a winding path as they uncover business and family secrets. Lebas, Karim, and Tegar discover the origins of Djagad Raja Clove Cigarettes and how it came to be the number one kretek in Indonesia. The three brothers also learn about the love between their father and Jeng Yah. Jeng Yah was the owner of a local kretek business, Lady Cigarettes, which was quite famous in its time… But will Lebas, Karim, and Tegar be able to fi nd Jeng Yah herself, and reunite her with their father?

Cigarette Girl is a story about love and the main characters’ search for their own identity. But it is also more; told against the backdrop of M Town, Kudus and Jakarta, from the time of Dutch Occupation through independence and beyond, Cigarette Girl introduces the reader to the history of the clove cigarette industry in Indonesia—which is rich and complex like the fragrance of tobacco, and laden with the aroma of love.


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Cigarette Girl has been fluently translated by Annie Tucker, who made the sensible decision to leave many terms in either Bahasa Indonesia, or in Javanese, most, although not all, with explanations in the text, adding a layer of linguistic richness and interest to an already interesting and absorbing novel.
Rosie Milne   in “Cigarette Girl” by Ratih Kumala (Asian Review of Books, Mar 14, 2017)


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