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Book Review - A Golden Age - Tahmima Anam

Judi Silva
02/02/2008

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

Told through the eyes of the young widow Rehana Haque, A Golden Age recounts the events leading up to and including the Bangladesh War of Independence from East Pakistan in 1971. It is the story of Rehana's struggle to preserve alive herself and her children.

For those who have experienced the ravages of war, reading the story of the Haque family may take them back to relive a time they may either wish to forget or hold it's memories close to their hearts as they empathize with them. For those of us who have never experienced such atrocities or devastation, we cry in sympathy and try to wrap our minds around the events that are so vividly portrayed by the author; those of war and refugee camps alike.

Without being overly graphic with detailing the horrors, Anam grasps the heaviness of the circumstances sans burying the reader in a sea of  disdain and despair. Using the character of Rehana allows one to understand the emotions only a mother has for her children. That is not to say that fathers do not love their children, but the strands of love and devotion which attach a mother and child cannot be compared. The sacrifices a mother makes throughout her life for her children is very difficult to describe in words.

The actions Rehana takes and the concessions she makes gives the reader a glimpse into the maternal instincts and passion which drives a mother into doing things she never thought were possible when the lives of her children are involved. Much of the courage that Rehana displays is drawn from earlier events which are interestingly told during the course of the novel, rather than spelling everything out all at once, which keeps you completely riveted to the storyline.

Religious and political fervor incite once mild and compassionate humans to commit unspeakable and heinous evils upon each other, some even of the same family at times. And yet amidst it all, what is essayed in this saga finds those who give of themselves, even to the point of surrendering their life for another in remembering the kindness once bestowed upon them.

Anam brings us on a nine-month journey of not only the heart-wrenching and chilling events that war brings about but of the love and friendship that stays strong throughout  and the new relationships that culminate along the way. We follow Rehana and her children's travels from Dhaka to Lahore to Calcutta and back in a whirlwind of circumstances which turn Hindus against Muslims and Pakistanis against Bengalis, leaving each to decide which side of the issue they are on. Hardships, dangers and horrendous cruelty on the part of the government test everyone's loyalties in this compelling story.

It is written with stunning accuracy, as Anam has researched the subject thoroughly and conducted many interviews before embarking on the labor of love in writing it as a remarkable story that is difficult to put down until you finish the very last page.

http://www.tahmima.com/
http://www.amazon.com/Golden-Age-Novel-Tahmima-Anam/dp/0061478741/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201912788&sr=1-1



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