With layered and intricate world-building, Naseem Jamnia’s debut novella THE BRUISING OF QILWA totally delivers

Samuel R. Delany Fellowship recipient Naseem Jamnia’s debut novella THE BRUISING OF QILWA continues to fascinate as evident by reviews from Vanessa Fogg on It’s a Jumble and thefeministreader on Instagram. Also on Instagram, Naseem shared a map of Qilwa, produced by their husband.

Cover for THE BRUISING OF QILWA by Naseem Jamnia
Cover by Elizabeth Story

The world-building in this novella is layered and intricate. The geopolitics and history underlying this world—the history behind the Sassanian refugees’ persecution, and their own past history of empire—are complicated and only slowly explained. The magical system is also intriguing and complex; I particularly liked the way both magical healing and “physicks” (non-magical healing which appears to be based on knowledge of real-world anatomy and biology) co-exist, and the biological details of the “blood-bruising” plague. It is in many of the small domestic details, however, that this world comes to life. A description of an eggplant dish, the act of making tea or heating a bath—in this and other domestic details, the author evokes the feel of a textured, truly lived-in world. Firuz and their struggles feel real; even apart from magic and mystery, the story of one family of refugees trying to survive and build a new home is compelling on its own. And the author has a particular gift for evoking the complexities of family relationships—both the tensions and the love.

It’s a Jumble
Y’all. I knew I wanted to read this when I heard “nonbinary blood mage” & this novella totally delivered for me. Jamnia has created a compelling fantasy realm inspired by Iranian history w/ various cultures and religions, realistic socio-economic conflicts, & an intricate magical system. — thefeministreader