As young widow Rehana Haque awakes one March morning, she might be forgiven for feeling happy. Today she will throw a party for her son and daughter. In the garden of the house she has built, her roses are blooming, her children are almost grown, and beyond their doorstep, the city is buzzing with excitement after recent elections. Change is in the air.
But none of the guests at Rehana's party can foresee what will happen in the days and months ahead. For this is 1971 in East Pakistan, a country on the brink of war. And this family's life is about to change forever.
Set against the backdrop of the Bangladesh War of Independence, A Golden Age is a story of passion and revolution, of hope, faith and unexpected heroism. In the chaos of this era, everyonefrom student protesters to the country's leaders, from rickshaw'wallahs to the army's soldiersmust make choices. And as she struggles to keep her family safe, Rehana will be forced to face a heartbreaking dilemma. This is the first volume of a planned trilogy.
Shona with her back to the sun
Every year, Rehana held a party at Road 5 to mark the day she
had returned to Dhaka with the children. She saved her meat rations and made
biryani. She rented chairs and called the jilapi-wallah to fry the hot, looping
sweets in the garden. There was a red-and-yellow tent in case of rain, lemonade
in case of heat, cucumber salad, spicy yoghurt. The guests were always the same:
her neighbour Mrs Chowdhury and her daughter Silvi; her tenants, the Senguptas,
and their son, Mithun; and Mrs Rahman and Mrs Akram, better known as the
So, on the first morning of March, as on the first morning of every March for a decade, Rehana rose before dawn and slipped into the garden. She shivered a little and rubbed her elbows as she made her way across the lawn. Winter still lingered on the leaves and in the wisps of fog that rolled over the delta and hung low over the bungalow.
She dipped her fingers into the ...
A Golden Age is written with absorbing specificity: Anam is confident in the purpose and placement of layered detail. Yet, the book also shines in its exploration of universal themes and human emotion. Family, loss, loneliness, sacrifice, religion and response to war – many of the grand subjects of fiction – are found in this tale of a mother who refuses to surrender her children or, in the end, her adopted country.
(Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
Full Review (926 words).
First-time novelist Tahmima Anam has written for The New York Times, Granta and
New Statesman. Links to some of her articles are provided on her
Her father, Mahfuz Anam, is the editor of The Daily Star, Bangladesh's foremost English language daily newspaper and chairman of a Bangladeshi NGO called the Freedom Foundation. Her grandfather was journalist, politician and writer Abul Mansur Ahmed, who founded the Bangladesh
Awami League and was imprisoned for four years between 1958 and 1962 when martial law was declared.
In an interview on NPR, Anam explains that her main character, Rehama, is based on her own grandmother's experience and that one of the other main characters is based on her uncle.
The Bangla2000 ...
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