Synopses & Reviews
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, everyone from student protesters to the country's leaders, from rickshaw'wallahs to the army's soldiers must make choices. And as she struggles to keep her family safe, Rehana will be forced to face a heartbreaking dilemma.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Amid tyranny, religious prejudice, torture, attempted genocide, and daring guerrilla maneuvers, Anam creates sparkling, suspenseful, and lacerating tragicomedy." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[R]emarkably moving and assured....Panoramic in its sense of history, intensely personal in its sense of drama a wonderfully sad yet joyous read." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[An] illumination on how far a woman will go to protect her children's bodies and souls." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Mother love is at the heart of this impressive first novel by the Bangladeshi-born, American-educated Anam." Library Journal
"When reading Tahmima Anam's moving debut novel, A Golden Age, it will be helpful to keep two things close at hand: a box of tissues and the number to a really good Indian takeout." Christian Science Monitor
"Tahmima Anam's glittering debut, A Golden Age, comes at a ripe time for literature focused on South Asian women. Readers of Khaled Hosseini's brutal but magnificent A Thousand Splendid Suns will find similar pleasures in Anam's book..." St. Petersburg Times
"The second half of the novel acquires a taut, electric air, and I turned its pages as greedily as if it were a thriller. The start of A Golden Age may not be promising, but by its end this first novel has itself become a promising start." Michael Gorra, The New York Times Book Review
In her deeply moving debut novel, Anam tells the story of a young widow who becomes embroiled in the violent political turmoil in 1971 that transforms a brutal Pakistani civil war into a fight for the death for Bangladeshi independence.
About the Author
Tahmima Anam was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and grew up in Paris, Bangkok, and New York. She holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University. Her writing has been published in Granta, the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Financial Times. A Golden Age, her first novel, was the winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book. She lives in London and Dhaka.