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A Golden Age

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,911 ratings  ·  323 reviews
As young widow Rehana Haque awakes one March morning, she might be forgiven for feeling happy. Today she will throw a party for her son and daughter. In the garden of the house she has built, her roses are blooming, her children are almost grown, and beyond their doorstep, the city is buzzing with excitement after recent elections. Change is in the air.

But none of the gues
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Hardcover
Published January 8th 2008 by Harper (first published 2007)
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Margot
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!
Adam
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
Jason
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
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Cheryl
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
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Chrissie
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
Naureen
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
sanjana
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
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
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Marisa
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
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Peg
Feb 21, 2008 Peg rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Joanne
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
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Amy
Jan 18, 2008 Amy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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Melinda
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
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Kelly
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
Chris
The particulars of the conflict between Pakistan and Bangladesh are not familiar to many of us in America. To make this new ground palatable, Anam deftly filters the big picture through the personal experiences and impossible choices of her characters. We instinctively understand the indelible and intimate impact of passionate revolt on the quotidian; we smell the fetid air of the refugee camp, where the best shelter for one's family is found inside a construction pipe, while at the same time we ...more
Violet Crush
In 1947, after Independence from the British, India was partitioned into India and Pakistan (east and West). East Pakistan was later named as Bangladesh after the 1971 war. Okay, as an Indian, I know all this. But my knowledge about the Bangladesh war of Independence is very limited. Forget about the war but even otherwise I knew very little about Bangladesh in spite of its proximity to India. So when my husband went to Bangladesh for work, I asked him to get me something written by a Bangladesh ...more
Felice
In 1971 East Pakistan was on the brink of war. The recent elections had done little to allay the fears that poverty, disease, bigotry and natural disasters have created. It is a country besieged by civil unrest but it is also a country of families whose lives were consumed with the day to day of getting by and who could not afford to turn their efforts to politics even in those circumstances.


Author TahmimaAnam uses this moment in history as her starting point for The Golden Age. Unaware of the c
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Marsha
At first this novel comes off as a trifle cold. So caught up is Rehana in her grief for her dead husband, we hardly feel that she suffers from losing her children, especially since she barely puts up a fight for them. But, gradually, we are drawn into her struggle to protect them, from poverty, pain, loss and the savagery of war. Rehana is forced out of her protective shell in which she visits her husband’s grave with unseemly obsession to a wider sympathy about the world around her, about the t ...more
Carolinemawer
Great story - but more for the history, than the book.
It's lovely to have a middle-aged widow as the protagonist - but Rehana felt more than a little unbelievable.
Just as a couple of PLOT SPOILER examples: Look how quickly, how magically, the mother-daughter conflict-subplot vanished! Why all the intense yearning heart-strings for the Major, when Rehana didnt even blink twice before consigning him to she-knew-exactly-what terribleness? And why hadn't the gin-rummy ladies finished their sewing (
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Angela
Taking a tip from the illustrious Chris Blattman, my model on being a globe trotting development worker, I decided to read this book in preparation for an upcoming work trip to Bangladesh.

I'm glad I did - reading (even fictionalized) historical accounts about a country is probably a fun, insightful way to learn about it, as long as you keep in mind the potential biases. In this author's case, I suppose there are two: first, she was born several years after the Bangladesh Liberation War (this st
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Smitha
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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Sally Wessely
I loved this book. My daughter-in-law gave it to me because she uses it in a course she teaches at Northeastern University. Ever since she and my son and grandson went to Bangladesh to live for a year and a half while my daughter-in-law did research for her PhD thesis, I have been fascinated by Bangladesh.

This story is not just a story of the events surrounding the war that lead to Bangladesh becoming an independent country, it is also a story of a mother's love for her children. It is a story a
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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
Bibliophile
As East Pakistan secedes from West Pakistan in 1971, Rehana, a young-ish widow, prepares a party for her two children, in part to assuage the guilt she felt over having given them up years ago to her brother-in-law who claimed that he could provide a better home for them. Although her children came back to her, Rehana has never quite gotten over the fear that they may be taken from her again. In well-written prose, Tahmima Anam's A Golden Age explores one woman's story set against the backdrop o ...more
Hana
I picked up a copy of this for $1.00 from my local library. It is set in Bangladesh on the eve of the War of Independence with Pakistan in 1971. I'm seeing plenty of mixed reviews so we'll see but it looked like a good candidate for my around-the-world reading challenge.
Jennifer Chowdhury
This book hit close to home since I'm Bangladeshi-American. But even if I wasn't, there's a lot to take away from this novel about a country that's ill-explored and about a genocide that the world knows virtually nothing about. Tahmina Anam does a great job streamlining Bangladesh's fight for independence into a linear family drama.

A Golden Age has some great characters; the feminist Maya (who also might be a lesbian) and her Pacifist-turned guerilla soldier brother. Her weakest character is th
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Marion
I have mixed feelings about this book. It could have been great - the writing was beautiful, and the tension (at least in the second half) was gripping... but I also had a very difficult time really getting accquainted with it. It wasn't until about halfway through this book that I started to actually feel comfortable reading it. There was a disjointed quality to the first half that made it frustrating for me. I'm not sure if it was stylistic or unintentional, but I wish it had read a little mor ...more
Nyla
An extremely timely book with the revolutionary protests going on in Bangladesh right now!

As a "probashi-Bangladeshi" born and raised overseas, I always knew the dry facts that make up our recent history, but somehow never bothered to seek out the stories, the families and the emotions that came with our Independence War. Reading this has inspired me to look into my own history deeper and has also allowed me to understand today's protests better.
Luci Davin
I've been meaning to read this for ages and was very impressed by this story of a woman and her family caught up in the war which resulted in Bangladesh becoming a new state in its own right, independent of Pakistan. I'm trying to resist downloading The Good Muslim to my Kindle immediately, that ease is such a temptation.
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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
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More about Tahmima Anam...
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“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
“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....” 1 likes
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