A Golden Age – Tahmima Anam

I wouldn’t exactly use the work regret but lately I have been thinking it would be nice to be participating in a few less reading challenges. I can understand now the seasoned bloggers sentiment of cutting back, as tempting as it is right now when the delights on offer for next year are starting to be posted.

And then I pick up a book like A Golden Age which I would not have thought to read normally but chose for the Book Awards III and A Colourful reading challenge.

Dear Husband,
I lost our children today

Set during the Bangladeshi war of independance of 1971, this is a touching and educational story which gathers momentum throughout. By the end I couldn’t put it down.

Rehana has been widowed at a young age and has experienced plenty of personal heartbreak and struggle since. We join her with her two teenage children and friends at a party in their home in East Pakistan in 1971. It is the eve of the beginning of the struggle for independance from West Pakistan for the country that is to become Bangladesh.

Most of the story is about this struggle and the effects on Rehana, her children and their community. It is sensitively told from the point of view of Rehana and we understand the emotional toll as well as the constant physical threat for those choosing to resist the Pakistan army.

No, there had never been any other time; their lives were populated by Lenin and Castro and Mujib and Anwar Sadaat; there was only this time, this life, this fraught and crowded era, to which they were bound without choice, without knowledge, only their passions, their loves to lead and sustain them.

This is a story of war with it’s hope and inevitable sacrifice. Above all, it is a story of a mother’s love and what she will do to keep her children safe.

A Golden Age won the Commonwealth Writer’s prize for Overall best first book in 2008.  It would make a wonderful choice for the Women Unbound challenge, which I haven’t signed up for yet but probably won’t be able to resist.

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13 responses to “A Golden Age – Tahmima Anam

  1. This was one of the best books I’ve read this year. Anam’s prose is poignant and beautiful, and she didn’t shy away from the violence and sadness of war. I’m so glad you liked it too.

  2. Isn’t it marvelous?! I read this one several months ago and loved it! 😀

  3. Wow – what a standout opening line. I’m going to hunt this one down. I love it when we serendipitously pick up books we would never think to but we end up loving it to bits.

  4. I haven’t read anything from Bangladesh and was looking for something for the South Asian book challenge. This sounds perfect! Thank you for drawing it to my attention!

  5. Chasing Bawa – Thank you! You’re right, she didn’t shy away from the horrors of war but somehow managed to tell it in a way that was bearable to read..

    Eva – Glad you loved it as well!

    Mae – Isn’t it an attention grabber! I hope you manage to find it and enjoy it. It’s finding a book like this that make me love reading challenges..

    Jackie – You’re welcome! I just discovered the South Asian book challenge and thought the same thing – this would be perfect! I will definitely be joining that challenge – can’t wait..

  6. I shouldn’t worry about joining too many challenges; there’s no shame in failing to complete them (she says hopefully…) I look at it that the challenge is there to help and not hinder our reading. If we end up finding fabulous books that would otherwise escape our notice then the challenge is working!

    A Golden Age sounds intriguing, but also as though it has the potential to be horribly heart breaking. I get a little anxious at any mention of children in peril…

    BTW What a gorgeous cover!

  7. Sarah – I like that view of challenges! For some reason I have this obsessive need to finish them all – something that doesn’t carry over into my normal life!

    Isn’t the cover of A Golden Age lovely! It is heart breaking but there are lovely moments too. This is a book where I could see things from a mother’s point of view – quite enlightening. I think sometimes as children even adult children, we can forget to do that 0:)

  8. I read the same book for ‘gold’ in Rebecca’s Challenge as well. I really enjoyed it too. The upside to challenges for me is finding books like this that you might not have otherwise read.

  9. Kerri – I totally agree. I wouldn’t have picked this book if I wasn’t needing a gold book and I enjoyed it and learned something too. I’m looking forward to more of a balance next year but still plenty of new challenge books as well. I’m glad you enjoyed it too.

  10. Nice website, I was doing a little internet snooping and happened upon your blog, Your blog desplays great in my browser and i will check out more of your posts.

  11. best registry cleaner – thank you and for taking the time to comment.

  12. what a book and that too by such an inexperienced young lady who does not know what war is !
    when is her next writing to be published.

    • Sajjad – Thanks so much for commenting. I am not sure when her next book is coming out. I’m sure there will be plenty of interest as the reviews of A Golden Age that I have read have been really positive. I will be interested to see what the topic is, if she sticks with the same theme.

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