THE BRUISING OF QILWA is a layered work, indeed. It explores the legacy of an empire—post-imperialist, post-colonialist inhabitants coming to terms with their cultural history and identity.
Specifically, in the afterword, the author asks the question “What does it mean to be oppressed when you were once an oppressor”- which feels like one of the major questions this book is asking.
But that’s only one part of this intersectional work, with nuanced character motivations and some fantastic queer (non-binary and aro/ace) representation. What seemed like a simple medical fantasy at first, another “COVID novel” (I feel like I’ve already read too many of those, and COVID isn’t even over yet…) surprised me with its complex themes and challenges.
Definitely feels like the author had more to say here. I would love to be able to explore this world further. There was so much to unpack in this novella… Most importantly, it all feels executed rather well. This is such a diverse work—prominent queer representation, multiculturalism, colonization, genocide, plague, trauma, refugees, … a lesser writer would not have been able to do it justice in so few words.
I look forward to reading more Naseem Jamnia books in the future. A voice to look out for.