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A Golden Age: A Novel

A book by Tahmima Anam

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Plodding Prose Undermines Decent Story

  • Feb 1, 2008
Boring, plodding prose and poor characterization, except for maybe Rehana, the main character, undermine this otherwise decent story. The story is set in the early 1970's and revolves around Rehana, a widow who lost her children after her husband died for lack of resources to care for them, and the regained them back. Her children, while in college, become involved in the East Pakistan political movement that eventually leads to the civil war and breaking off and formation of a new country, Bangladesh. Her children lead Rehana into the mess of "revolutionary" politics and Rehana has a secret of her own that barely keeps the reader somewhat interested. But in the end, the writing style is turgid, with only small signs of life.

I've seen better.

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More A Golden Age: A Novel reviews
review by . January 25, 2008
Five stars with a flaw. Many of the other reviews will give you a synopsis, so I'll skip that. A Golden Age reminds me a bit of Tolstoy or Chekhov in that we are aware, and even privy to great events, but our focus is on the individuals rather than the events. That point of focus allows the humanity of the participants to shine through from their smaller stages, rather than the great stages of revolution or war. A Golden Age takes us into families, and households to show us daily life in a time …
review by . November 25, 2007
In East Pakistan in 1971, Rehana Haque is celebrating the anniversary of her children's return, the guns of war sounding on the horizon, the coming independence of Bangladesh as yet a dream in the minds of revolutionaries. But Rehana has restricted her needs and dreams to her household, to the lives of her children, seventeen-year-old Maya and nineteen-year old Sohail. Soon after the death of Rehana's husband, the children were removed from her home by her brother-in-law until such time as the mother …
About this book


Starred Review.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.(Jan.)
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ISBN-10: 0061478741
ISBN-13: 978-0061478741
Author: Tahmima Anam
Publisher: Harper

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