Sitti Nurbaya

All Things Books / Review

About Sitti Nurbaya: A Love Unrealized,
Written by Orthofer, M.A., and was originally published in Complete Review,
May 08, 2015


Sitti Nurbaya — Nurbaya, also called Nur, is the teenage heroine of the story; ‘Sitti’ a not-age-specific female honorific (i.e. — but not quite — both ‘Miss’ and ‘Ma’am’) — is subtitled: A Love Unrealized, which kind of gives away where this story is headed. From its beginning, Sitti Nurbaya does indeed seem like it will follow the more or less traditional romance-tale course, focused on the doomed love between Nur and Sam — Samsulbahri. It turns out, however, that there’s a bit more to it, as the novel is also decidedly polemic (especially about women’s rights and marriage, though also addressing some of the local-tradition and colonial issues of the day) and veers away from its romance story in a rather startling way. (Without giving too much away, let’s just say that with more than a quarter of the novel left the full unrealizability of the love has manifested itself — not that Rusli doesn’t have one or two more nice twists up his sleeve to surprise the reader with.)

Read the full article here.
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