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Paperback A Golden Age Book

ISBN: 006147875X

ISBN13: 9780061478758

A Golden Age

(Book #1 in the Bangla Desh Series)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Like New

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Book Overview

Rehana Haque, a young widow, blissfully prepares for the party she will host for her son and daughter. But this is 1971 in East Pakistan, and change is in the air. 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 midst of chaos--and of one woman's heartbreaking struggle to keep her family safe.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Golden Age

I couldn't disagree with the previous reviewer more. I just finished A Golden Age (I stayed up until the wee morning hours because I simply couldn't put it down) and I found it to be a beautifully crafted, emotionally satisfying debut. I had tears in my eyes by the end. I recommend this book to anyone interested in south Asia for any reason. Tahmima does a great job of constructing powerful and sympathetic characters. I can't wait to read more from this author.

a golden age

In the beginning, I was frustrated that there was not a glossary for many of the Urdu words and expressions. This omission was an annoying distraction from the total experience. Emotionally, however, the simple prose builds gradually to a dramatic and poignant tension, necessitating the need to finish the book in the wee hours of the night. After finishing the novel. I happened to hear the author on NPR noting that the main character, Rehama, was based on her own grandmother's experience and that one of the other main characters was her uncle. Her grandmother actually did hide the weapons at the house and was confronted by the Pakistani army at gunpoint as they were looking for her son. It would have been an added bonus to have included that information at the end, making this chilling and uplifting story all the more poignant. Book clubs should love this book, not only for the exploration of the depths of a mother's love,but also for a fascinating historical and intimate look at Bangladesh's quest for independence.

A poignant tale

A well written and lyrical tale about a family caught up in the furor of 1971. However, to someone unfamiliar with the environs, language and culture, I can see how the characters might seem superficial and distant at times. However, to those familiar with the Dhanmondi's Road 5 or the smell of fuchkas and biriyani, or the burning heat of July and the sweet rains of the monsoons, this book is both evocative and compelling. In not seeking to be an overarching history of the 1971 war, the book has opened a window into the effects of conflict on a human, personal level and told the story of the many often caught up in turmoil with little prior deliberation. There are numerous books and articles that can tell the historical details of the conflict but Anam's book is a loving tale told with compassion, sympathy and admiration for the courage of ordinary men and women.

Swept Me Up

I became totally swept up in Tahmima Anam's novel, "A Golden Age." The emphasis on the domestic family story that took place during the political unrest. Previously, my knowledge of the country has been most influenced by the George Harrison's The Concert for Bangladesh with the starving refugee picture on the cover. I read in the news about the flooding during monsoon season as happened this year, but otherwise know little about the country. Rehana Haque's story swept me up. It becomes universal and easy to relate to because its largest themes are about family relationship, something we can understand no matter what our culture or religion. Rehana's devotion to her son Sohail and her daughter Maya kept me gripped to the page. During Sohail's joining the resistance and burying guns beneath the rose bushes, it had me biting my nails with suspense. The sequence as Rehana flees to Calcutta and observes her daughter as a devoted and efficient worker highlighted how families change as children grow into adults. Rehana's sparse but tasteful romance with the Major brought just a whisper of joy into the midst of such tragedy. I found Anam's prose sweeping and moving. Bravo!

Would make a great movie, destined to be a classic

War novels like Gone with the Wind, Sophie's Choice, The Book Thief to name a few, capture the stresses and choices that ordinary people are forced to make as the brutality and deprivation of war, occupation, captivity, that change the ordinary circumstances of life into a living nightmare. This book is no different. The book starts with a prologue where the widow Rehana sits at her husband's grave and tells him that she has lost the children. Because of her poverty, her husband's brother and childless sister-in-law have taken custody of Sohail and Maya, Rehana's 7 and 5 year olds. Even though they are gone for only a year, Rehana feels in her heart the yearning gap of that year and devotes herself totally to her children. Every year, they have a party where they celebrate the children's return. March 1971 was no different. The party had become a routine, the same guests, Rehana's neighbors, a tenant family from India, the gin-rummy ladies and her daughter's friend. They are celebrating and optimistic of the future. But within a few short weeks, tanks rolled into Dhaka, refugees start streaming out, massacres occur in the city, and her children are drawn into the resistance movement. Life is anything but ordinary when Rehana is drawn into the resistance by her son and daughter. Faced with her guilt at how she lost them for a short while when they were young, and the secret of how she was able to bring them back, Rehana goes along with their efforts, hiding guns and supplies in her home and harboring and caring for a wounded major that at first she regards as a nuisance. She would like nothing better than to retreat into her routine, her shell, sitting at her late husband's grave and speaking to him, and lying to him and herself about the normalcy of her life, ignoring her daughter's cold shoulder and indifference, and her own guilt at the shameful acts she took to bring her children back. But as the weeks went by, taking care of the major who only greeted her with silent eyes, she begins to open up to him, telling him of her secrets, as if to atone for them and he silently bears her secrets for her. The war tears Rehana's circle apart, lives tragically destroyed, destinies changed. Rehana meets her former tenant in a refugee camp, a walking shell, with nothing left inside her except sorrow, for the choice she made, she'll pay with tears the rest of her life. At the end, Rehana herself makes a heartbreaking choice, and even though the war ends a few weeks later, there is no victory, only sorrow in Rehana's heart. As the rest of the city celebrates Rehana speaks to her dead husband, telling him that this time, she did not lose her children. This is a very poignant novel with plenty of action, raw emotions, youthful enthusiasm, and the painful legacies of war, and the birth of a nation.
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