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A Golden Age (Bangla Desh #1)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  2,603 Ratings  ·  399 Reviews
As Rehana awakes one morning, she might be forgiven for feeling happy. Today she will throw a party for her son and daughter. But none of the guests at Rehana's party can foresee what will happen in the days and months that follow. For this is East Pakistan in 1971, a country on the brink of war. And this family is about to change forever.
Published April 3rd 2008 by John Murray Publishers (first published 2007)
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Sep 21, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-of-women
This is a debut novel set against the Bangladesh War of Independence; it’s not a historical novel, but the story is told through the medium of one family and those in their immediate circle. The plot has a personal inspiration and is the story of Rehana Haque. She is a single mother; her children are in their late teens and are part of the struggle for independence.
There is the brutality of war, mostly at a distance, sometimes present and political events intrude; but there is a continuum of fa
I did not know even the most solid facts of this history. My ignorance is all the more embarrassing since I live in an area of London with a large Bengali community and count Bengali folks among my students & their families. One of the things I find most frustrating about myself is that my memory will not hold dates, will not hold a timeline, seems radically inhospitable to histories. I find it very difficult to read historical non-fiction. I need a novel, or at least a memoir, a personal st ...more
Ranendu  Das
Some khademul Islam from ‘Daily star’ has said that this book is a definitive novel on 1971!
Who is this man? Is he from Pakistan or outer planet? Please, send him a copy of ‘The days of 1971’ by Jahanara Imam.

Okay, before I say other things, first a little about Tahmima. She was born in 1975 in Dhaka but has grown up abroad (Goodreads says in Paris, New York City and Bangkok). Thus naturally She has very faint idea about Bengalis and her book says so.

Now she is from Harvard, so it becomes her r
Jun 19, 2008 Margot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Oh, how I love to get my facts of the world from historical fiction! I just can't get enough of it, especially when it's about something I know nothing about, like the 1971 Bangladeshi struggle for independence from Pakistan. A little bit of culture, a little bit of politics, a little bit of betrayal and the dark side of human desire, a little bit of the horrors of war and torture, and a lot of family loyalty. This is one great read. Oh yeah baby!
Jun 26, 2012 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, subcontinent
Until the end of 1971, Bangladesh, inhabited mainly by Bengalis, was known as ‘East Pakistan’. West Pakistan, now all that remains of Pakistan is, and was inhabited by a Punjabi majority. In 1970, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (‘Mujib’,a Bengali) and his party won the parliamentary elections. Mujib was prevented from taking office by President General Yahya Khan, of West Pakistan, who along with many of his fellow Punjabis and Pathans held the Bengalis in low regard. He arrested Mujib in early 1971 and ...more
Claire McAlpine
Dear Husband,
I lost our children today.
What an opening line. Tahmima Anam's A Golden Age plunges you right into the twin events that form the basis of Rehana's character as a parent, fiercely protective and determined to have them near her. The death of her husband and her fight to keep her children, when her dead husband's brother and his childless wife claim they could take better care of them.

The first chapter begins with that day in 1959 when the court gives custody to her brother and siste
Dec 17, 2012 J.I. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2008
This story about the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan takes place from very shortly before the civil war (with a completely unnecessary prologue set 20 years before) until the day before the war is over. It is the story of a family, of a mother who had given up her children (but not really) and of her children's political activities for their blossoming country.

While this is a beautiful setup, and there are some very striking scenes, it is sadly not because of the book that they are striki
Set in Dhaka against the backdrop of the Bangladesh War of Independence (aka the Liberation War), Tahmima Anam's debut novel is a small but powerful story about family, heroism and different kinds of love.

Rehana Haque was widowed at a young age and struggled to keep her small family together. But on the eve of war, Sohail and Maya, her two children, are with her in Dhaka. Both are fiercely patriotic and politically active university students, and when war breaks out both play an active role. Reh
Set in Bangladesh on the eve of the War of Independence with Pakistan in 1971, A Golden Age is the story of a family, Rehana Haque, her son, Sohail, and daughter Maya. I picked the book up last night and at 2:30 am I was still reading. Rehana is a wonderful character, loving but flawed, and gifted with depths and strengths I would never have expected in the early part of the the book. She is gradually drawn into the the struggle for Bangladesh's independence and the way it all happens is so susp ...more
Rather than depicting the events of Bangladesh independence, i.e. the split between East and West Pakistan in 1971, the central theme is a mother’s efforts to save her children. There is too little history. On the other hand, I just finished another book concerning how war wreaks havoc in people’s lives, Scribbling The Cat, and that I loved. That didn’t have a lot about the exact historical events of the Rhodesian War, but I still loved it, so something else must be wrong. The central theme here ...more
Sep 27, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to give a special shout out thank you to my GR friend Jalilah because if she had invited me to join the Middle Eastern reading group, I wouldn’t have read this wonderful book.
The novel follows Reena who lives in what today is Bangladesh. When the book opens Reena has just lost her children to her in-laws, and then the book jumps a few years into the future where Reena and her children struggle though Bangladesh birth pains as the country gains its independence from Pakistan.
While Reena
Jan 23, 2016 Nusrat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
অনুবাদ পড়েছি তাই কিছু জায়গা খুব খাপছাড়া মনে হয়েছে। নাহলে বোধয় তারাই দিতাম। অনুবাদকে খারাপ বলছিনা কিনতু কয়েকটা লাইন যেন আকষরিক অরথে অনুবাদ করা হয়েছে পরথম দিকে। শেষের দিকটায় একদম অবশয সেসব বালাই নেই তাই খুব উপভোগ করেছি। একটা বড় দবিধা ছিল লেখিকার সমপরকে জেনে যে মুকতিযুদধের মতো বিষয়কে আসলে তার মরযাদা অনুযায়ী পরকাশ করতে পারবেন কিনা। কিনতু যত পৃষঠা উলটেছি তত মন ভাল লাগায় ভরে গেছে। শেষের টুইসটটা ভাল ছিল। খুব অলপ কথায় যুদধের ভয়াবহতা তুলে ধরাটাও ভাল লেগেছে। ...more
I visited Bangladesh over twenty years ago, when my mother lived there for several years. From all that we see of it in the news over here in Canada, you would think the country is in a perpetual state of flood/disaster/famine. So the first thing I thought on arrival was how colourful it was. Blue skies, brilliant flowers, colourful chaotic markets. But I felt like I was towing bad luck behind me. It was the last stop after a tour of India and Kashmir, and we had encountered Kashmiri curfews bec ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Truly a pleasure to read. I looked forward to my time with it every day. I could smell the greasy food, feel the oppressive heat, hear the endlessly cascading rain, and see the red and white flowers Rehana grows in her garden.

The story takes place during the nine-month-long Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971. Widow Rehana Haque's daughter Maya and son Sohail are teenagers, both heavily involved in the resistance efforts against West Pakistan. When her children were small and she first becam
Aug 05, 2007 sanjana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book was a good english-language introduction to the Bangladesh war of independence of 1971, esp for those of us who grew up with only a shadowy understanding of what happened. I'm not sure how correct of the facts/chronology of the book. I gave it to my dad - since he was the same age as the characters at the time - who, while reading, would put it down every couple of minutes to explain how "things really happened." As a novel, though, the plot development was rather lacking - the characte ...more
Sep 22, 2016 Elisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
A Pleasanton but frustrating read. I know very basic history about how Pakistan and Bangladesh were separated from India, and was curious to learn more. There is no historical background to the novel. The book is about the life of a family during a tumultuous time in which over a million of people were killed, raped and tortured. And yet, they all come out basically unscratched. Some good parts but not enough of a story, not enough history... Maybe good for a movie!
Jan 23, 2008 Naureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A poignant exploration of how war and conflict impact a single family. In Rehana Anam has captured the personal conflicts and agnonies of war not reflected in the movies or books representing the heroic soldier or the vulnerable victim. Rather, Rehana experiences a war that she neither requested nor participated in, though called upon to make the greatest sacrifices a mother might be asked to make - contributing her children to a cause THEY hold dear. Her own evolution is touching and evocative. ...more
Shreya Vaid
Jun 12, 2016 Shreya Vaid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Golden Age, a story so powerful and heart-rending that takes you back to the real account of 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War through the experiences of Rehana Haque and her family.

There was a reason why I picked up the Bangladesh series for my June #TBR, and the reason was pretty simple, to know more about a country and it's genocide that I have only heard from my father. And now when I am done with the first book of the series, A Golden Age, I am really glad of my decision.

A Golden Age by Tahm
Sep 18, 2016 Zaheerah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ha ...more
I'm about halfway through this book and am stopping, not because I hate it, but because I'm not drawn to it and there are too many books to read. I know in my head this is a good book, and it's not painful or anything while I'm reading it. But whenever I put it down I just don't want to pick it back up. I'd rather watch a movie or something. And I don't even feel bad about not finishing it because
1) I don't think it will be selected for common book, and
2) It's an adult book. If it were a teen bo
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Tahmima Anam is one of those rare authors who can write about normal, everyday events and have them be utterly compelling. I wasn't sure from the blurb if I would like this book, but was sucked in from the first page and overall really enjoyed it.

A Golden Age is the story of a family--told from the point-of-view of a mother with two teenage children--during Bangladesh's war for independence in 1971. It seems to be intended more as a universal story about families and war which happens to be set
Regina Lindsey
Set against the backdrop of the Bangladesh Liberation War, Rehana Haque self-worth is predicated on the well-being of her son and daughter, whom she lost for a brief time when her husband died suddenly. She will do and sacrifice anything for their happiness. When the Pakistani military junta launched its attack on its citizens both children become active in the resistance movement, pulling Rehana into its intrigue as well.

I have to admit the I was unmoved by the first half of the book and though
Feb 21, 2008 Peg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
A book recommended to me because a friend of my son-in-law dated the author. Terrific story, beautifully written. The story of the war in East Pakistan in 1971 is presented through the story of a family - that of Rehana Haque and her two children. From book jacket: ".. story of passion and revolution, of hope, faith and unexpected heroism. As she struggles to keep her family safe, Rehana will be forced to face a heartbreaking dilemma." The dilemma and its outcome are reminiscent of The Tale of t ...more
May 15, 2008 Joanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Tahmima was one of Jessica's housemates, so I met her occasionally, and when Jessica gave me this book, I thought how nice of her it was to buy her friend's book. I didn't expect to like it so much! I will have more faith next time.

It's a great story about a widow and mother who's caught up in Bangladesh's war of independence from Pakistan in 1971, which I knew absolutely nothing about. So it's both a beautifully written story about a mother trying to keep her college-age children safe and a his
I thought that this book gave an excellent perspective of daily life during the Pakistan War during the early 1970s. Knowing very little about this conflict, I found the realistic setting intriguing. The scenes are vivid and intense as they describe the deplorable conditions of the refugees and the treatment of captured nationalist soldiers.
As far as the fictitious part of the story, I found the characters a bit shallow. Sometimes, I had difficulty following sections of the story.
Overall, it is
Jan 18, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like Indian writers
Recommended to Amy by: booksense pick

I judged a book by the (beautiful) cover and boy, am I glad I did! This is an excellent first book by Bangladeshi born writer Tahmima Anam. Anam delivers a powerful story about Rehana and her young adult children trying to survive during the liberation war fought against Pakistan. Anam does a good job capturing the strong bond between mother and child as she becomes as involved in the liberation of Bangladesh as her children. This story is very moving and has a surprise ending. It is the first i
Nov 23, 2007 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although this novel is getting a fair amount of buzz, I found it to be pretty mediocre. Rehana Haque, a young widow with two teenage children, finds herself caught in the Bangladesh War of Independence in the beginning on 1971. Both of her politically active children are involved in the resistance. The setting is interesting and the writing is not bad, but there is little character development; they seemed rather one dimensional. I found myself caring very little what happened to these character ...more
Julia Thomas-Singh
This is an important book, in the way that Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa is important: it illustrates a history that we might otherwise overlook, or at least not try hard enought to embody. But the stylistic choices were somewhat flat. Without the weight of the context, the language would not call out to me, the way it does with writers who can turn a phrase regardless of what they write about. In this latter category of South Asian writers -- those who are brilliant at both style and content - ...more
Samira Manzur
Jun 02, 2014 Samira Manzur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A captivating historical fiction. Definitely recommended, even to those with minimal knowledge about this part of South Asian and Bangladeshi history.
Mar 24, 2013 Smitha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having loved Anam's second book, 'The Good Muslim', I was on the lookout for her first book - 'The Golden Age'. Although The Good Muslim was a sequel, I had no trouble following the story line, and I hoped that The Golden Age wouldn't be rendered redundant by the fact that I had already read the sequel.

I needn't have worried. It is East Pakistan in 1971. Rehana Haque has just about started to breathe easy. Her two children, Sohail and Maya, who she struggled to keep with her and bring up, after
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Middle East/North...: Pakistan/Bangladesh : A Golden Age 67 51 May 14, 2016 10:34PM  
Is Rehana Bengali or Pakistani? 2 8 Mar 31, 2016 09:23AM  
  • Trespassing
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  • Kartography
  • Maps for Lost Lovers
  • Evening Is the Whole Day
  • Children of the New World
  • Scenes from Early Life
  • A Matter of Time
  • Haunting Bombay
  • Gem in the Lotus: The Seeding of Indian Civilisation
  • Baumgartner's Bombay
  • Partitions
  • A Breath of Fresh Air
  • The Toss of a Lemon
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...

Other Books in the Series

Bangla Desh (3 books)
  • The Good Muslim
  • The Bones of Grace (Bangla Desh #3)

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“Rehana regarded the saris and tried to recall the feeling they had given her, of being at once enveloped and set free, the tight revolutions of material around her hips and legs limiting movement, the empty space between blouse and petticoat permitting unexpected sensations -- the thrill of a breeze that has strayed low, through an open window, the knowledge of heat in strange places, the back, the exposed belly. It was the bringing together of night and day....” 3 likes
“Her hands on the harmonium were delicate, square-tipped, her bitten-down nails paying homage to the seriousness of the task; her brows were knitted together in the service of the song, and in the end it was only to the music that she was bound. In singing she was, in only briefly, a supplicant, as though in the presence of a divinity that even she, devout non-believer, had to somehow acknowledge” 2 likes
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