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The Bones of Grace

(Bangla Desh #3)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  417 ratings  ·  107 reviews
The much-anticipated new novel by the Granta 'Best of Young British' Novelist
'Anwar told me that it wasn't until he almost died that he realised he needed to find the woman he had once loved. I've thought about that a lot in the last few years, that if Anwar hadn't worked on that building site, he might never have gone looking for Megna, and if he hadn't done that, I might
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 5th 2016 by Canongate Books
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Popular Answered Questions
Joann The superficial answer is the remains, the frame of the dead ship called Grace...but the deeper levels of meaning come in the story, I believe.
Anato Yes definitely. The different stories in the "trilogy" are only loosely connected. There may be some minor spoilers (i.e. you'll already know which…moreYes definitely. The different stories in the "trilogy" are only loosely connected. There may be some minor spoilers (i.e. you'll already know which characters survived to grow old).(less)

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Margitte
The story centers around an adopted daughter of a loving Bengali family who finds herself lost between worlds. Zubaidah Haque experiences a liberated life at Harvard where she becomes a paleontologist, participates in a dig at Baluchistan, Pakistan, to search for the walking whale,Ambulocetus, and then move back to Bangladesh to get married to her childhood friend, Rashid. She leaves behind the love of her life. The book is an epistle to Elijah Strong in which the explains her decisions to him. ...more
Emma
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is beautiful and lyrical, it feels like someone is reading you the secrets of their soul. Each sentence is musical, yet thoroughly conversational, so that it reads as a halting, emotional confession, full of additions and qualifications. It's so personal that I followed the story with a tightness in my chest and sometimes tears in my eyes.

Tahmima Anam is a real talent, not just in style but in her creation of character. So rarely do I leave a book believing that I know a person so tho
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Paromjit
To be honest, I read this book some time ago but in the midst of the chaos that is my life, forgot to write the review. This is a beautifully and lyrically written novel about a woman's search for who she really is given that she is adopted and caught between two cultures. She is based in the US and is a paleontologist looking to understand who she is. In a compelling narrative, the tale penetrates what are the deepest parts of a human being. Inevitably, that touches on love and family. She want ...more
Marianne
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“You realise, don’t you, Elijah, that this is the way you worked your way into my heart? Not just in those days together in Cambridge, but in the aftermath, when I couldn’t stop talking about you, when every turn of my story included a footnote of conversation as I pictured how you might respond, the way the desert light would catch your hair, the effect of the parched, history-heavy air on your voice. What would you have made of all this, the green flags of our tents on the lunar surface of thi ...more
Book Riot Community
Zubaida is a student in Cambridge when she falls for Elijah, but the stars are not aligned for the star-crossed lovers, and she returns to her country to follow her family’s plans for her future. Disheartened and stifled by her decision, she moves to the beaches of Chittagong to work on a documentary and seek the remains of “the walking whale.” The Bones of Grace is a deeply moving novel of love, immigration, and loss, moving from Boston to India and back again, that will sweep you away with its ...more
Andrea
3.5★

The third part of the Bangla Desh trilogy brings us the story of the third generation of the Haque family; Rehana's granddaughter and Maya's daughter, Zubaida. We originally met Zubaida very briefly during the epilogue of The Good Muslim, so that's where I started, re-reading that part to recalibrate my familiarity with the characters.

As this story begins, PhD candidate Zubaida is preparing to leave Harvard to join an expedition in Pakistan to dig up a whale fossil; the skeleton of Ambulocet
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Roman Clodia
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written in luminous prose and suffused with an air of yearning and melancholy, this follows Zubaida from a PhD at Harvard via an aborted archeological dig in Pakistan to her home in Bangladesh. Anam weaves a complex story of journeying and search: for history, for a sense of self, for acceptance and for homecoming. Along the way we have a glorious portrait of a love affair, of various marriages, and of Bangladesh: its hierarchical social structures, its past struggle for independence, its abuses ...more
Text Publishing
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
‘A major new talent.’
Observer

‘Anam’s prose is glowing and graceful.’
Guardian

‘Anam has a knack for making you care so desperately for her characters that you admire their failings as much as their strengths.’
Daily Mail

‘Anam deftly weaves the personal and the political, giving the terrors of war spare, powerful treatment.’
New Yorker

‘Fierce and intimate, lyrical and expansive, The Bones of Grace offers what a great novel does: symphonic movements, historical landscapes that shape our private landsc
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Becky
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I slowed down my reading of this book in the last few pages because I didn't want it to end. From the moment you start reading you know there can be no happy ending - there is just too much 'human' in this book for any convenient, Hollywood resolution.

Seemingly about a long distance love between a wholesome American and a Bangladeshi palaeontologist (stick with me here..) this book traverses the world and through time to conjure Bangladesh in colourful yet brutal beauty. I think this book is ac
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Momina Masood
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bangla
Despite my ratings, I will recommend Anam's trilogy on several accounts -- (1) it uses the trope of home and belonging as a subsequent reality of colonialism and warfare very well (though I am a bit sick of it), (2) good introduction to contemporary Bangladeshi fiction, (3) occasional bursts of lyricism (especially in this third book) which makes it simultaneously an easy and harder read than the previous two books (okay wait, that's not exactly a good point?)

Find a more detailed (albeit mislead
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Pooja T
Aug 08, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So disappointed about this! I have loved the previous two books in this series and I had sky high hopes for this one, but this was so chaotic and convoluted and not good! The writing was great and honestly the only saving grace of this book. I couldn't stand Zubaida! I disliked her immensely and by the end of the book I want to get inside the story and slap her! Ugh! No!!! This was a train wreck!
Harvee
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful love story about cultural clashes, family responsibilities and duty, and a woman finding her own way. I gave this five stars!
Suzy Dominey
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not my usual choice but was intrigued by the title. Started off slowly but was good.
D.K. Powell
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was long looking forward to Anam's third book in this 'trilogy' but though I enjoyed the book from the beginning - she is a masterful storyteller, of that there is no doubt - I was, nonetheless, a little disappointed.

Firstly, the book really didn't seem to be part of the trilogy at all. I could see no connection between this and her 'A Golden Age' and 'The Good Muslim'.

Secondly, it felt very much as if this was a series of longer short stories masquerading as a single novel. One moment we're i
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Julia Thomas-Singh
Jul 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
THis book is so much like The Geometry of God by Uzma Aslam Khan that I am shocked. I confess to not having finished it because of the similiarities. In The Geometry of God,which came out in 2008, a young girl Amal finds the fossil of an ancient whale, the 'dog-whale,' that evoloved on land, with legs. She finds it on a dig in Pakistan with her grandfather, a paleontologist whose name is Zahoor, whose names means 'becoming', evolving, in-between. Amal wants to be a paleontologist like her grandf ...more
Pratiti
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
What do a couple of war heroes do to seek solace in the slow crumbling of their dreams? They built something new, a child. Shape her with their values and politics. What happens when their perfectly thought out plans do not mean anything. What if she falls for a American and out of love of her school sweetheart. And what when she finds out that basis of their relationship is false? Aman in her third novel, slowly spins the horrors of her countries in the story of the family. Its beautiful and in ...more
Jo
I won this through the publisher's Facebook page in exchange for an honest review. The novel follows a young woman from Bangladesh as she falls in love, fights against tradition and searches for the bones of a whale dinosaur. I wanted to love this because the writing was so beautiful but I found it a chore to read. It was lovely but I just couldn't engage with it.
Shreya Vaid
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
The third book of the Bangladesh series, The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam stands out as a roller coaster ride of emotions, spread over the background of the new Bangladesh and a small shipping yard in Chittagong. And in between this beautiful mess, Anam’s protagonist, Zubaida narrates how her life completely changed when she fell in love with Elijah Strong.

Most of the June I was busy with Tahmima Anam’s Bangladesh series, and the books have totally swept me off my feet. They have kept me engag
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Jalilah
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asia-and-india
The Bones of Grace is the third novel of the Bangla Desh Trilogy by Tahmima Anam and tells the story of Zubaida, the adopted daughter of a wealthy Bangladeshi family in Dhaka.
Zubaidah Haque is a Harvard educated marine palaeontologist engaged to her childhood friend Rashid. At a concertina Boston, shortly before her departure for Pakistan to work on a dig for bones of "Diana" an Ambulocetus, or "walking whale", she encounters a young man named Elijah Strong.

The Bones of Grace is basically a l
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Anato
Written like a letter, if a novel can ever be a letter, this book was stylistically very different from Anam's previous books. Sometimes that worked very well - especially the adversarial tone resulting from addressing the reader as "you". But at other times it didn't work so well - it was hard to tell how much time had passed, and more worryingly experiences and character growth got lost amid too many highbrow cultural references and overwrought language. A few details bothered me - Mo for exam ...more
Lisa
May 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I very nearly abandoned this book, more than once. Only the fact that I had been so impressed by its predecessor The Good Muslim stayed my hand. And now that I’m finished it, all 407 pages of it, I remain unconvinced that reading it was a good investment of my time.

The Bones of Grace is third in a trilogy, but in shifting the focus away from the post-war impact of the 1971 war of independence in Bangladesh, author Tahmina Anam seems to have lost her way and succumbed to writing an overwrought ro
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Michelle
Oct 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
How did this happen? Ms. Anam's first novel "A Golden Age" was a surprise 5* read. I hadn't heard anything about the book or the author at that time, just picked it up at the library and was thrilled. I was so excited when her 2nd book "The Good Muslim" appeared on the scene. I didn't like it that much because I'm pretty disgusted by religious zealotry, most certainly when it is used as an excuse to control women, but gave it a 4* because, well it seemed unfair to rate it lower than that. But "T ...more
Bren
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I loved this book. The narrator, Zubaida, tells the tale of her thoughts and actions to Elijah, and you are carried along. You don't know Elijah's reactions, you only know what Zubaida thinks.

I was a child in India when the war started in East Pakistan/Bangladesh. Much of Zubaida's life is influenced by the freedom war and the roles her parents played in it and its aftermath. I was easily caught up in all the Zubaida observed and felt, her failings and her strengths.

I found myself a bit lost a
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Monica
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love her lyrical prose, richly developed characters and window in Bangladesh but the storyline wandered like it's indecisive main character
Isla Scott
I found this quite a compelling read. It is quite detailed in parts, with dialogue kept to a minimum and its a reasonably long read at just over 400 pages long. I should also point out that the chapters are really quite few and far between - with around about 30-50 pages between chapters, or sections (chapters aren't numbered as such, just labelled with words).

I found myself a little muddled about who the main character was at times, with different chapters/sections, moving the focus from one pe
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Cmorice
Son diplôme de paléontologie en poche, Zubaïda se prépare à quitter Harvard pour participer à une mission scientifique chargée de mettre au jour le squelette de la « baleine qui marchait », un fossile vieux de cinquante millions d’années susceptible de combler un chaînon manquant de l’évolution. Mais elle est tiraillée entre deux pays, deux cultures et surtout deux hommes : Rachid, son amour de jeunesse, et Elijah, un Bostonien dont elle tombe amoureuse. Il est le fils d’une famille américaine t ...more
Orrieux
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Son diplôme de paléontologie en poche, Zubaïda se prépare à quitter Harvard pour participer à une mission scientifique chargée de mettre au jour le squelette de la « baleine qui marchait », un fossile vieux de cinquante millions d’années susceptible de combler un chaînon manquant de l’évolution. Mais elle est tiraillée entre deux pays, deux cultures et surtout deux hommes : Rachid, son amour de jeunesse, et Elijah, un Bostonien dont elle tombe amoureuse. Il est le fils d’une famille américaine t ...more
Bonnie
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Bones of Grace is a modern love story that explores the problems of having to choose between an arranged marriage and a marriage for love. Grace is studying the species of the walking whale, the fossil that provides a missing link in our evolution. Zubaida Haque falls in love with Elijah Strong, a man she meets in a darkened concert hall in Boston. Their connection is immediate and intense despite the many differences between them. Elijah belongs to an American family while Zubaids is the ad ...more
Veronique
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars.
This book is very well written, easy to read and mostly interesting.
I am always attracted by stories that help me discover and understand other cultures.
There is a lot I loved in this book, the breaking and selling business of decommissioned ships was fascinating, the exploitation and suffering of the poor, the huge gap between classes, the condition of women were very well depicted.
But I had a serious issue with the main character who was simply a selfish, privileged, sheltered youn
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William
A meaningful and fulfilling conclusion to Anam's trilogy that would serve well as either a standalone novel or as the introduction to Aman's A Golden Age and The Good Muslim. The middle portion of the novel offers what appears a long segue, and it's unfortunate the value of that interlude is kept close until the end of the book, but this reader most enjoyed the struggle between dual worlds faced by narrator Zubaida Haque: it speaks to personal identity, cultural belonging, and to Western privile ...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

Other books in the series

Bangla Desh (3 books)
  • A Golden Age
  • The Good Muslim
“Diana accuses me of losing my sense of history. The hands that arrange her bones, that brush away the layers of earth that weighed heavy on her for fifty million years, those hands should be light and unattached, not heartsick, that embarrassing word, not longing for human touch, for the particular grooves of another person's lifetline, but something else entirely, a pair of moving parts mindful of all that is ancient, and endures. I bristle at her rebuke, knowing she is right.” 3 likes
“Bettina often joked that I was in the wrong department, but there was something pleasantly straightforward about scientists, and I found that I could live among them without giving much away, and in those days, hiding in plain sight was what I did best.” 0 likes
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