||13.5 x 20
22 Oct, 2015
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.
Cigarette Girl is a masterpiece—a novel with a big heart by a young writer who always gives us works with “teeth.” Cigarette Girl is a cultural study brought to life by bold characters and the nuance of a family life that, even though it is not perfect, is still full of warmth. Bravo, Ratih!
-Maggie Tiojakin, writer
Surprising, full of rich detail until the very last sentence. Without realizing it we are swept in the story of three generations of Indonesian history. We meet characters who struggle to right the wrongs of past generations, split apart amidst the viciousness of revolution and politics. We address the most controversial social issues in the country through clove cigarettes and unrequited love, and through spit that tastes sweet, as sweet as the spit of Roro Mendut. A beautiful work that it would be a pity to miss!
-John-De Rantau, director