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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

When the British Empire left Pakistan in 1947 it did so by dividing the country of Pakistan in two.  
East Pakistan spoke mostly Bengali, West Pakistan spoke Urdu, with different religions and cultures the two sides were as Anam says “poised on either side of India like a pair of horns”.  As the novel opens we learn the protagonist, recently widowed Rehana, has lost custody of her children to her deceased husband’s brother.  The children are forced to live in Lahore until Rehana is able to go to court and win them back.  Hardworking Rehana then struggles to build a small house which she then rents to a Hindu family.  Life goes on as normal until the revolution begins in Dhaka.  In the middle of all the chaos with family and friends, Rehana dreams a simple wish: that “the country would go on being her home, and the children would go on being her children. In no time at all the world would right itself, and they would go on living ordinary, unexceptional lives.”

I really enjoyed reading this book; it is well written and does an excellent job illustrating the problems of the region.


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