While I was looking for non-fiction novels about the history of Bangladesh, I came across this. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but, nonetheless, I enjoyed it just as much. A Golden Age tells the story of the Haque family’s experiences during the war from the perspective of Rehana. A Golden Age begins with a newly widowed Rehana who had been declared unfit by a judge and has had her children taken away. By the second chapter, 20 or s0 years have passed. It’s now 1971 and her children have returned, but the shame of what she had to do stays with her all these years. The novel follows Rehana’s life during Bangladesh’s war for independence. As her children become politically involved, Rehana finds herself drawn into the war as well. While her children are motivated politically, Rehana’s desire for her children’s safety drives her through the entire novel.
Through A Golden Age, Rehana is more of a witness than an active member, unlike her children. We never witness the full atrocities that the people suffered but we do encounter the result of them through her eyes as we follow her from her home to refugee camps. And not knowing fully what the Pakistan army was doing, we’re thrown into the same tense situation is Rehana in. We learn the real costs of war through the lives of this semi-real family. (I believe Rehana was based on Anam’s grandmother and her experiences) I loved the way she described Bangladesh, the culture, the food, the landscape. My favourite part was beginning of the novel and how Anam introduced the land and country. It was, at most times, so calming and beautiful before everything goes terribly wrong.
No one should really think of this as an actual account of what happened but an introduction that can incite further research. A Golden Age is more personal and human, and I felt plenty of emotion while reading Rehana’s story.
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2 thoughts on “Book Review: A Golden Age”
Beautiful cover, too!
I see you a fan of A Golden Age and I wondered if you would be interested in taking part in Radio 4’s Book Club with Tahmima Anam and she’ll be discussing A Golden Age.
We are currently looking at 19, 20 or 21st July to record beginning at 4pm and finishing at 5.30pm. We are doing it remotely, with only the author and presenter in a studio in Broadcasting House. The audience will be a mixture of a small number taking part as-live from home via Skype or Zoom audio, and the rest pre-recorded in advance and played to the author.
Please do let me know if you’re interested in taking part, and if you have a preference for taking part as-live or pre-recorded.
With best wishes,