The Java Enigma
Finalist of the Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2020
"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
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.
Erni Salleh 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 eighth century Buddha statues in Burma to generations-old kerises in a remote village in Yogyakarta. When she’s not writing, Erni continues telling stories in her capacity as a librarian, be it to a room full of toddlers and parents, or storyboarding a puzzle adventure book for tweens. She currently manages the National Library Board’s Mobile Library Services, affectionately known as MOLLY. The Java Enigma is her first novel.