“Spellbinding . . . . Anam has written a story about powerful events. But it is her descriptions of the small, unheralded moments . . . that truly touch the heart.” —San Francisco Chronicle
Tahmima Anam’s deeply moving debut novel about a mother’s all-consuming love for her two children, set against the backdrop of war and terror, has led critics to comparisons with The English Patient and A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Rehana Haque, a young widow transplanted to the city of Dhaka in East Pakistan, is fiercely devoted to her adolescent children, Maya and Sohail. Both become fervent nationalists in the violent political turmoil which, in 1971, transforms a brutal Pakistani civil war into a fight to the death for Bangladeshi independence. Fair-minded and intensely protective of her family, but not at all political, Rehana is sucked into the conflict in spite of herself.
A story of passion and revolution, of family, friendship and unexpected heroism, A Golden Age depicts the chaos of an era and the choices everyone—from student protesters to the country’s leaders, and rickshaw wallahs to the army’s soldiers—must make. Rehana herself will face a cruel dilemma; the choice she makes is at once heartbreaking and true to the character we have come to love and respect.
The experiences of a woman drawn into the 1971 Bangladesh war for independence illuminate the conflict's wider resonances in Anam's impressive debut, the first installment in a proposed trilogy. Rehana Haque is a widow and university student in Dhaka with two children, 17-year-old daughter Maya and 19-year-old son Soheil. As she follows the daily patterns of domesticity cooking, visiting the cemetery, marking religious holidays she is only dimly aware of the growing political unrest until Pakistani tanks arrive and the fighting begins. Suddenly, Rehana's family is in peril and her children become involved in the rebellion. The elegantly understated restraint with which Anam recounts ensuing events gives credibility to Rehana's evolution from a devoted mother to a woman who allows her son's guerrilla comrades to bury guns in her backyard and who shelters a Bengali army major after he is wounded. The reader takes the emotional journey from atmospheric scenes of the marketplace to the mayhem of invasion, the ruin of the city, evidence of the rape and torture of Hindus and Bengali nationalists, and the stench and squalor of a refugee camp. Rehana's metamorphosis encapsulates her country's tragedy and makes for an immersive, wrenching narrative.
A Golden Age
Tahmima writes in an engaging, fluid style, allowing the reader to feel part of the ongoing struggle. To know the heart of a mother is to be a mother who above all will uphold her own. Well worth reading.
Amazing, amazing, amazing!!