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The Good Muslim: A Novel

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  1,028 ratings  ·  185 reviews
From prizewinning Bangladeshi novelist Tahmima Anam comes her deeply moving second novel about the rise of Islamic radicalism in Bangladesh, seen through the intimate lens of a family.

Pankaj Mishra praised A Golden Age, Tahmima Anam's debut novel, as a "startlingly accomplished and gripping novel that describes not only the tumult of a great historical event . . . but also
ebook, 320 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Harper (first published 2011)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
A Golden Age introduced the widow Rehana Haque and her two teenagers, Sohail and Maya, as they participated in the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence.
The Good Muslim is the second book in the Haque family trilogy. It begins in 1984, thirteen years after the war. Bangladeshis are not necessarily much better off than before the war. The country has had two presidents assassinated and is now living under the thumb of the Dictator. Martial law is in effect, war criminals still have not been prosecu
I had high expectations from Tahmima Anam when I very randomly came across her second book tucked away in the corners of a bookstore in the Bangladesh airport. I thoroughly enjoyed Golden Age and had recommended it to many non-Bangladeshi friends.
Imagine my surprise at finding out a quarter of the way through that this book is a sequel to Golden Age! I kept my frustrations at check about the glacial pace and the jumpy narrative and breezed through the pages. At the end, as much as it pains me,
I want to tread lightly with my review, mainly because I don't want to offend anyone who is Muslim. The Muslim culture has always been a mystery to me and I always wondered about the complexities of the culture, as well as the every day life things. I felt like this book gave me a tiny glimpse into the culture, and I mean tiny, but it was significant all the same. This book really blew my mind. I had no idea it was a sequel but it reads like a stand alone book. Maya is a character that I found v ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Alternating between 1971 and 1984 The Good Muslim tells the story of Maya, a doctor who has spent seven years in self-imposed exile travelling the country, helping women and children survive childbirth and common illnesses, and her brother, Sohail, a freedom fighter in the war against Pakistan that ended in 1971. In the 70s, the young country was embracing a constitution and finding its feet, but Sohail is tormented by a girl he rescued from a barracks, Piya, and a man he killed on the road home ...more
I really liked this book: longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2011 it’s a superb example of writing that is both ‘domestic’ and ‘big picture’.

It’s the story of Maya Haque, a young woman seeking an identity which fulfils both her intellectual and emotional needs. But, set in Bangladesh in two alternating time periods, 1972, just after the war of independence and 12 years later in 1984 when political disillusionment had set in, the novel does not only depict the conflicts that beset Maya i
Violet Crush
The Good Muslim begins 10 years after A Golden Age ends.The war has ended, a new country, Bangladesh is formed and 10 years have passed. This book is from Maya’s point of view and she is now a women’s doctor in a remote village in Bangladesh, leaving her mother and brother, for reasons unknown at that point. Due to some unfortunate circumstances Maya has to return to Dhaka. She finds that a lot has changed while she was away. Her brother has dedicated himself to Islam and he is no longer close t ...more
I have not read A Golden Age and I know nothing about the Bangadeshi war against Pakistan. Both of these facts most likely decreased my appreciation for The Good Muslim: A Novel. I enjoyed the first of three sections very much, but somewhere in the second what had seemed like an introductory style began to feel very much like a lack of coherency. The lack of exposition contributed to my confusion about the setting and Maya, the primary character, began to repeat her thoughts and observations in ...more
This really fine novel is set in Bangladesh in the mid-1980s, with flashbacks to the defining years of the 1970s, when all of the major characters' lives were transformed by the events of the revolution against Pakistan, though the promise of those days has been mostly lost to dictatorial rule. Those transformative political events are crucial to the story, but they are very much a backdrop to an intimate family story. A young, independent, secular, woman doctor is estranged from the handsome, b ...more
Amy Lignor
This is a truly powerful story that offers an in-depth look into war, family, and the strength and courage that’s needed to let go of the nightmares of the past and begin a brand new future.

Maya and her brother Sohail Haque are the ‘stars’ of this incredible novel. These are two souls who have survived the war of Independence that birthed the nation of Bangladesh, and the revolution that finally has calmed down in their world. Maya wants nothing more than to begin again. Deciding to go the route
The book opens with Maya preparing to return to the home she had fled 9 years previously. She has been working as a doctor in a small traditional village, delivering babies and trying to educate the community. They turn against her after a woman delivers a Downs Syndrome child, and her husband assumes his wife has had an affair with a Chinese man. The wife is beaten to the point of requiring 3 months of hospitalization, and Maya, after receiving some very definite threats, decides to return home ...more
The Good Muslim is a sequel of sorts to Tahmima Anam's first novel, A Golden Age; the main characters of the second novel are the children of Rehana Haque, the protagonist of the first novel. Maya and Sohail Haque have both been damaged in different ways by their exposure to the horrors of Bangladesh's 1971 war for independence and they both react differently: Sohail becomes a devout Muslim, using his gifts for oratory to build a following for a fundamentalist Islam that is completely foreign to ...more
The story shifts between action remembered in 1972 at the ending of a revolutionary war in Bangladesh, and the present time, 1984, when Maya returns to her mother's home after spending years as a doctor in the countryside. Her brother, Sohail, adopted a devout way of life after his return from being a revolutionary soldier, and now is regarded as religious leader of a group of followers. His wife is dead and his son, Zaid, is neglected by him and his followers. Unresolved disputes, unexplained a ...more
Heading: Peace Is Harder Than War

The Good Muslim by Tahmina Anam is the story of two siblings, sister Maya Haque and brother Sohail Haque. Both have survived the 1971 Bangladesh War for Independence, yet are haunted by the things they did and saw. Before the war, Maya and Sohail were inseparable, but chose different roles during the war, Sohail was a guerilla fighter and Maya worked in a refugee camp. Now that the revolution was successful, brother and sister struggle on how to cope in this budd
Mark Staniforth
For her second novel, following 2007's Commonwealth Writers' Prize winner 'A Golden Age', Tahmima Anam tackles the not inconsiderable, and certainly timely, topics of revolution and fundamentalism in her native Bangladesh. As the Arab Spring turns cold in Egypt, The Good Muslim begs the question of whether so-called liberation is ever entirely achieved by mass rallies in public squares or newsreel footage of toppling statues.
In Bangladesh, which achieved independence after a short war with Pakis
The events in this story flash forward and backwards, slowly unravelling and revealing the problems of Bangladesh and the main characters. Mysteries are solved, but there is never a "solution" or happy ending. The truth why Sohail, "the good Muslim," becomes lost in a religious zeal, is not exposed until the end of the story. Maya, his sister, is tormented why her brother has turned into a "prophet" after the war took place between Pakistan and Bangladesh, and remains silent. Maya cannot underst ...more
At the end of a brutal civil war, a man stumbles upon an abandoned building and finds a young woman whose story will haunt him for years. Almost a decade later his sister returns home to find her brother transformed. While she has stuck to her revolutionary ideals, he has shunned his old life to become a charismatic religious leader. And when he decides to send his son to madrasa the conflict between them comes to a devastating climax. Set in Bangladesh at a time when religious fundamentalism is ...more
I did not realize this was book 2 in a series when I bought it but decided to read it stands alone quite well and I didn't feel I missed anything by not having read book one. Nor do I really feel the need to read book three. I enjoyed the story. It was well written and it gave me a little glimpse into a piece of history and life that I know nothing about.

This is the story of a family after the war that creates an independent Bangladesh. The sister pushes herself as far from religion as
I enjoyed the book but thought it was overly drawn out, even at under 300 pages. Maya's resistance to her brother's conversion to a somewhat fundamentalist form of Islam, and her misguided hope that she can make him revert to his secular self, are reiterated over and over. Events pick up in rather startling fashion at the end of the book, but the siblings' mixture of love and misunderstanding of each other stays the same.

As a side note, I read "A Golden Age" before going to Bangladesh, and now t
I enjoyed her first novel very much and looked forward to this. This isn't a book you rip through; it is a novel that forces you to slow down, to pay attention to the characters and the events that have altered their lives. It raises difficult questions about faith and forgiveness and the cost of war, even one that is just. The ending packs an emotional wallop. But there is hope...I'm definitely curious to see this story through to it's end. And it's wonderful to read about a time, place, and ev ...more
The Book
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Ugh, I really thought I was going to like this novel. For one, I didn't know it was a sequel to the author's first novel. Had I known that I would have started with that one. That information should really probably be on the cover, or at least mentioned somewhere in the front matter. The main thing that I couldn't deal with in this novel is the erratic narrative. THere are dates, references to earlier dates, and in the middle of a section taking place in a given month and year, a sudden flashbac ...more
This is one of those books that reads like a great first draft, or even an outline for a book. But as a finished novel, it tries to do too much, with multiple subplots, jumping back and forth in time, switching past and present tense, occasionally jumping to another character's POV... And yet, for all that's here, most of the really interesting moments happen "off screen." There are jumps forward in time and indirect references to past events that could work well if there weren't so many of them ...more
Michelle Olsen
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Sarah Lameche
What an absolutely miserable depressing book. Wow. I cannot believe how rubbish this book has made me feel.
When i first started to read it I found it rather boring. I persisted and eventually became interested in why the main character was so against her brother 'finding religion'. Yet even though I understood why she was against it her attitude seemed such an overreaction. I have to be honest this book was one long disappointment. It dragged on and really nothing was ever resolved. Then the en
I'm on the fence with this one. I believe it is very well written and extremely engaging. However, the characters are quite confusing and I feel like even after finishing I still don't completely understand everything.

Also I don't understand the relevance of the title, unless it is satirical.

But it's only after finishing the book that I realise it is a sequel so maybe I have to read the previous book to understand better.
I bought The Good Muslim after reading an article about it. It was then kindly pointed out that it's actually a sequel to A Golden Age, so I bought that one too.

Both books are about the family of Rehana Haque, a widow who loses her husband while her eldest child is only 8 years old. A Golden Age sets the scene at her aching loss of her two children Maya and Sohail and her struggle to win them back. It's heartbreaking and inspiring witnessing the struggle of a mother desperate to win her children
A very moving, sad and sometimes disturbing story of a Bangladeshi family coping with the aftermath of war. Maya has been estranged from her brother, Sohail and worries about his rejection of his previous values and his son. Anam is a good writer and engages us in the disquiet of situations such as war-rape, abortion and abuse. Read while in India.
Lora Grigorova
The Good Muslim:

The majority of the novel focuses around Maya’s relationship with her brother, Sohail. Unable to cope with the memories from the war, Sohail turns to religion for answers. According to the author, the title is a form of a question. Who is the good muslim indeed? The religious fanatic Sohail, who burns his books, abandons pure pleasures from before the war, and preaches the values of true Islam? Or the progressive forward-thinking Maya, who
Based in post independence Bangladesh. "she sees he fell into the abyss and that this Book is what brought him to the surface and allowed him to breathe. She see too, in herself, the need for such a rescue, such a buoy, such a truth. But because it has suddenly become clear to her that religion, its open fragrance and cloudless stretch of infinity, may infact be what he is claiming it is, an essential human need, hers as much as his, and because she feels the twinge of his yearning, turning like ...more
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Tahmima Anam was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1975. She was raised in Paris, New York City, and Bangkok. Renowned satirist Abul Mansur Ahmed is her grandfather.

After studying at Mount Holyoke College and Harvard University, she earned a PhD in Social Anthropology.

Her first novel, A Golden Age, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Costa First Novel Prize, and was the winner of
More about Tahmima Anam...
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“Before placing her in her mother's arms, she whispered, as she had at all the other births, hello, little amphibian. Someone had to acknowledge the strangeness of this soul, and the distance it had traversed, millions and millions of years, in order to be here.” 7 likes
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