The Java Enigma
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Finalist for the 2020 Epigram Books Fiction Prize
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After missing her father’s funeral, Irin Omar finds her orderly librarian life with the Borobudur restoration project turned upside down as she inherits a safe deposit box containing an unknown item as part of her father’s will. Chasing answers across Asia and Europe, her historical knowledge and love for her father persists as she tries to uncover some of the archipelago’s biggest hidden secrets while discovering a few familial skeletons of her own.
"A well-written, a kind of Southeast Asian Da Vinci Code-type mystery … with a degree of scholarly detail all through the narrative."
— Professor Rajeev S. Patke, director of the Division of Humanities at Yale-NUS College
"The Java Enigma presents itself as a rather singular literary work for its boldness in putting Southeast Asian history at the fore, certainly able to spur new interest in readers that pick this book up."
"The Java Enigma is a delightful and well-researched work of literary cartography where form, concepts, motifs and content work together to create a cultural map of the Southeast Asian region, its history and communities."
"With so much colourful and eclectic history on Singapore's doorstep, I have often wondered why a code-cracking historical adventure hasn't been written about the region. Finally, The Java Enigma has plugged the gap. With a splash of Dan Brown and a quirky dash of Indiana Jones, Erni Salleh has written a globe-trotting, treasure-hunting thriller that is a fascinating read from start to finish.”
—Neil Humphreys, bestselling author of Marina Bay Sins
“A riveting read of archaeological and historical mystery. The Java Enigma takes you on a journey across Southeast Asia and into the hidden depths of the monuments, languages and cultures of the Old Malay World—all while unravelling the inherent interconnections in and among them, and in a way, among us all.”
—Nuraliah Norasid, award-winning author of The Gatekeeper
Erni Salleh is the author of The Java Enigma, which was a finalist at the 2020 Epigram Book Fiction Prize. She completed her Master's in Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, where she first got interested in colonial maps, art, religion and ancient kingdoms of the region. A librarian by profession and a self-professed antiques aficionado, she travels the region collecting bits of the past - from 19th-century ceremonial scrolls in Laos to generations-old kerises in a remote village in Yogyakarta. When she’s not writing, Erni enjoys telling stories, be it to a room full of toddlers and parents, or storyboarding a puzzle adventure book for tweens. The Java Enigma is her first novel.
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 176
Year Published: 2020
Size: 152mm x 225mm