BookBrowse Reviews A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Golden Age

by Tahmima Anam

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam X
A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2008, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2009, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A story of passion and revolution set against the backdrop of the Bangladesh War of Independence. 1st Novel

The eyes of the world have recently been turned toward the country of Pakistan. Many have watched with sadness and concern as the turmoil within Pakistan's government and among its citizens grows. Worse, Pakistani citizens are dying – leaders, angry militants and innocent bystanders alike. First-time novelist Tahmima Anam has written a story of another tumultuous season in Pakistan's recent history, the transition of East Pakistan to independent Bangladesh. Her novel explores how far a person or group of people will go for someone or something that they fiercely love, while offering a timely glimpse of a not so distant conflict in Pakistan.

A Golden Age describes the Bangladesh War of Independence from the perspective of one woman, Rehana Haque. Rehana is a widow, a Calcutta-born resident of Dhaka (East Pakistan/Bangladesh) and most of all, a mother. Because the events of the story are viewed through Rehana's eyes, the love of a mother for her children supersedes all of the other loves and loyalties explored in the novel. Rehana will stop at almost nothing to provide for and protect her children, especially her son. Rehana's two children, Sohail and Maya, in turn, echo their mother's unwavering devotion in their own choices. Sohail's love for a neighbor girl cannot be broken, despite the girl's marriage and Sohail's involvement in the horrors of war. Maya's passion for a free Bangladesh consumes her.

The mixture of languages and cultures within the pages of A Golden Age make for a challenging but rewarding read. The chapters are sprinkled with Bengali and Urdu words that slow the reader struggling to understand their meaning. Footnotes or a glossary would have been helpful. Despite these slow points, Anam deftly shows her readers what the soon-to-be-newborn country of Bangladesh was like in 1971. Her descriptions of supporting and anecdotal characters combine with carefully recorded details of food preparation and other daily activities to allow the reader to envision a culture vastly different from his or her own. The story's blend of ordinary and emergency emphasizes the silent integration of routine and patterns of daily living into the culture of a nation.

The novel's limited point of view, provided by Rehana's character, also allows Anam to portray political unrest and violence from a domestic, almost comprehensible perspective. Riots, conflicts, wars – the struggle for survival and the effects of that struggle on individual families are often difficult to grasp for those who have not experienced the events. Anam leads her readers to a more thorough understanding of Bangladesh's struggle for independence through the reactions and actions of one woman. Rehana's world revolves around providing food, shelter, spiritual guidance and happiness to her children. Rituals and tasks designed to accomplish these goals become much more difficult following the occupation of the Pakistan Army beginning on March 25, 1971. Rehana's efforts to maintain some control over everyday life during the conflict draws the reader into her reality and perhaps a bit closer to the reality of those who actually lived in East Pakistan during that time.

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.

First Impressions
15 BookBrowse members reviewed this book through First Impressions. Read their comments here.

Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie

This review was originally published in January 2008, and has been updated for the January 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: American Histories
    American Histories
    by John E. Wideman
    In American Histories, a collection of 21 short stories, John Edgar Wideman draws America's present ...
  • Book Jacket: I Found My Tribe
    I Found My Tribe
    by Ruth Fitzmaurice
    Ruth O'Neill was only 28 when she married film director Simon Fitzmaurice in 2004. Changing her...
  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Towards the end of Madeline Miller's novel Circe, the titular nymph is questioned by her son ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads
    by Clemantine Wamariya

    A riveting story of dislocation, survival, and the power of stories to break or save us.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.