A Golden Age | Tahmima Anam

Books | Review

historical fiction  |  novel  |  war  |  books by women

First published 2007

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam book cover
Book #2 | 2023

Tahmima Anam's debut novel, A Golden Age, tells the story of the Bangladesh War of Independence through the eyes of the Haque family. Rehana Haque, a widow, has a son and a daughter, Sohail and Maya. The children are passionate nationalists and are part of the struggle for Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan in the early 1970's. Rehana feels out of touch with her children's intensity, but she eventually finds her own strength andcontributes to the war effort in her own way.

After India's partition in 1947, Bangladesh was known as East Pakistan. West Pakistan and East Pakistan spoke different languages, the people had different religions and they were divided by India. It didn't make much sense to the people of East Pakistan, and while the West enjoyed political and economic dominance, the East suffered neglect.

Rehana was born in the West and spoke Urdu. But she and her late husband had moved to the East many years before. When the war arrives on her doorstep in 1971, she finds that although she does not sound like a pure Bengali, the East is now her home and she is prepared to make some great sacrifices for the new country.

My favourite genre is historical fiction and this stunning debut novel introduced me to Bangladesh's War for Independence, the brutality of Pakistan's army, the plight of refugees and one of the first cases of genocide after the Second World War. A Golden Age is one of those perfect books where the story is gripping, emotional and believable, but you also learn something from it. Books that have been written about post-colonialism are some of the best books I've read in the last few years, and this one definitely goes to the top of the list!

Review Award | 4.5/5

Posted 11.01.2023

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