The Read Around The World Book Club discussion

40 views

Comments Showing 1-25 of 25 (25 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
Final thoughts?


message 2: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
This was a really good read, I learnt something about Bangladesh that I had not known. I liked the characters and yes, sometimes they were a bit flat, but it did not really matter to me, because I was so drawn into the story and wanted to know what's going to happen. A quick and easy read and a good debut from this author. Certainly a bit of history that I feel I needed to know, the Bangladeshi conflict appeared in some other books about the Asian sub-continent that I read as a side note and it's usually called a "conflict" or a "struggle" or an "uprising", but that's the outsiders view, important to get a story told from an insider's perspective, despite the fact that author does not live in Bangladesh. Yep, this was a winner for me.


message 3: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (mlafaive) | 4 comments I agree that this was definitely a book worth reading. At around the halfway mark, the plot really seemed to gel and the narrative became very compelling. One thing that was very interesting to me was how before the civil war the Muslim and Hindu populations in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) seemed to coexist with a minimum of conflict, while the Muslims in the West were anxious to persecute the Hindu population. This was just one small way the book really opened my eyes to a history I knew little about.

I finished this book a few days ago and can't stop thinking about the denouement. I don't have children so I cannot really judge Rehana's decision, but the martyrdom of her lover continues to haunt me.


message 4: by Linda (new)

Linda (lindaleehall) | 30 comments I did like the book in the end even though I felt the characters could have been more rounded. Still, for a debut it was well constructed, informative and thematic. The ending was well constructed to bring the novel full circle with the dominant theme of family and motherhood.


message 5: by Britta (new)

Britta Böhler | 51 comments I've just finished reading the book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I especially liked the flow of the storytelling which I experienced as quite different from the way Western stories are constructed. And it was very interesting to read a book set during the Bangladesh independence war.


message 6: by Quilterin (new)

Quilterin | 6 comments I enjoyed reading this book, especially reading about a culture and political Events I know nothing about. It was an easy read, though some parts were harrowing to read about. This especially as such Events still take place in one way or another wherever there is war.
I loved reading about the small things, the "household" stuff, like caring for the clothes, the Food and rituals. I am seriously considering buying the second book too as I realised that this is part one of a trilogy.


message 7: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "I agree that this was definitely a book worth reading. At around the halfway mark, the plot really seemed to gel and the narrative became very compelling. One thing that was very interesting to me ..."

Yes that has been haunting me too


message 8: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "I did like the book in the end even though I felt the characters could have been more rounded. Still, for a debut it was well constructed, informative and thematic. The ending was well constructed ..."

Yes, I think you could tell it was a debut and not a major release, so probably not a lot of work with an editor either. So, considering this, really good.


message 9: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
Britta wrote: "I've just finished reading the book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I especially liked the flow of the storytelling which I experienced as quite different from the way Western stories are constructed...."

Definitely, I had hardly any knowledge of that, so I was glad to find out more.


message 10: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
Quilterin wrote: "I enjoyed reading this book, especially reading about a culture and political Events I know nothing about. It was an easy read, though some parts were harrowing to read about. This especially as su..."

I know, I loved how she cooked for everyone and how she took pride in people liking her food - something I can so relate too and I do cook in a crisis too....


message 11: by Kathrin (new)

Kathrin I enjoyed this in general and I am glad I read it. I just didn’t have much of an emotional connection to the story which I expected due to the subject matter.


message 12: by Jennie (new)

Jennie (jenniejohnston) | 11 comments I loved the story. In many ways I felt like I was there. I thought the author explained the complexities of living in war with so much depth and grace. There were also some lovely phrases and descriptions. The simple made beautiful.


message 13: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
Kathrin wrote: "I enjoyed this in general and I am glad I read it. I just didn’t have much of an emotional connection to the story which I expected due to the subject matter."

Interesting, why do you think that emotional connection did not happen?


message 14: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
Jen wrote: "I loved the story. In many ways I felt like I was there. I thought the author explained the complexities of living in war with so much depth and grace. There were also some lovely phrases and descr..."

So glad you liked it.


message 15: by Beatrizmallow (new)

Beatrizmallow | 36 comments Mod
I'm very glad that we read this book. It taught me about a historical moment I knew nothing about.


message 16: by Keriann (new)

Keriann (kad123) Finished, 3 stars overall from me, I thought the author did a good job of portraying war in a culture that is alien to us! I wanted to feel more of an emotional connection to the characters but I just couldn't. Rehana annoyed me all through the novel and I did feel like she let her children walk all over her, however not being a mother I don't think it's fair for me to judge the decisions she makes with regards to her children. I am a sucker for romance so I loved the romantic element to this book and was really rooting for the Major and Rehaana and I thought the way that story line went was perfect, I also enjoyed the ending.

All that being said, I did find this book a bit of a slog at times and there was a few occasions where my interest in the story waned and I wanted to DNF but glad I kept going.

:)


message 17: by Kathrin (new)

Kathrin Melanie wrote: "Kathrin wrote: "I enjoyed this in general and I am glad I read it. I just didn’t have much of an emotional connection to the story which I expected due to the subject matter."

Interesting, why do ..."


I think because Rehana seemed to be so stoic at times. That doesn't mean that some people don't react different than others to the same situation, but I don't think her as a character was cohesive in that regard, because she was driven to her actions/ inactions by her love to her children.


message 18: by Candace (new)

Candace | 53 comments I did not see the end coming at all but wow, what everyone sacrificed for war and for love. I am so glad we read this book! I was so disappointed in Silvi in the end but war impacts everyone differently I shouldn’t judge. What a gift the Major gave Rehana, still can’t get over it. Also I loved how Rehana grew as a person into someone so strong and involved in the war efforts.

So did Anam write this book directly in English? It looks like she went to Harvard. I thought the writing was beautiful.


message 19: by Candace (new)

Candace | 53 comments That last line should say - the writing was beautiful.


message 20: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
Candace wrote: "That last line should say - the writing was beautiful."

Glad you liked the book


message 21: by Asha (last edited Jan 21, 2018 11:09AM) (new)

Asha Jyothi | 4 comments I liked the book in general. It had some beautifully descriptive writing, of the place and of the climate, as well as of the more homely things, as others have said earlier, but I felt like she skims the surface on the war front. She could have plunged into it a bit more and made it more historically rounded even with the plot mainly revolving around Rehana's unconditional love for her family, and for her country.

Rehana as a character reminds me of my mom in some ways-especially in her deep empathy for, and simultaneous 'disinterest' (for want of a better way to describe it) in the refugee situation, and in her dedication to her children. I'm a sucker for good romance in novels myself but I actually thought the love angle was a little forced and not very well explored in this case and only paved the way for the final sacrifice. We see her children primarily through her eyes again , which is fine, but they seem sketchy at times.

From a historical and subcontinental viewpoint, the case of Bangladesh is very interesting, given how it was first formed on religious grounds as East Pakistan in the throes of the Partition in 1947, and then won its independence from Pakistan, with India fighting its cause, on the strength of linguistic and cultural sentiment, and difference. Anam's narration of the gradual changes seeping into the more liberal practice of Islam in the country was interesting so much so that I ironically can't imagine Sheikh Hasina without the sari covering her head today. Especially interesting for me was the brief depiction of the Bihari, therefore Urdu speaking, butcher who belongs to a sidelined community in a country that prides itself on its Bangla heritage, and who voluntarily or reluctantly allies with the Pakistani army to Rehana's disdain. There is a particular hierarchy of power organized along sociolinguistic lines within the region itself, with the Muslim, and then, Hindu natives of Bengal being closer to the top. The Pakistani administration, and subsequent military intervention, both inverts and extends this paradigm by heightening religious intolerance and suppressing linguistic identity, which then allows the Muslim, Urdu speaking Bihari to briefly emerge as the privileged citizen. The question of a 'legitimate' form of nationalism and national identity is also complicated in that sense. It also resonates with the way Biharis and Bengalis are perceived in India, with cultural identity overshadowing religion in determining status between the two communities in general. Religion does play a role in determining power within and between linguistic communities as well-the upper caste Bengali Hindu is still more privileged than a Bengali Muslim etc.(the Bihari Muslim again being closer to the bottom, all other things being equal!)- but the significance of a particular marker of identity is also determined by specific crises or contexts and intersects with other hierarchies.

Want to add that my Hindu Bengali friend, whose family was earlier in Bangladesh, was curious to read this book just to compare her own understanding of the war and of Bangladesh with Anam's, given that the author has mostly grown up in the West and has only heard about these events from her parents and later, presumably, from other families in the course of her research. That should make for an interesting project as long as the issue of authenticity isn't foregrounded insofar as a universal experience of an event, and even trauma, is improbable in any case.

I may check out the next book in the trilogy as well and would like to read more about the liberation and about independent Bangladesh. Found this book with a controversial, and seemingly unpopular, take on Mujibur Rahman: The Black Coat


message 22: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
Asha wrote: "I liked the book in general. It had some beautifully descriptive writing, of the place and of the climate, as well as of the more homely things, as others have said earlier, but I felt like she ski..."

Wow, Asha, that was super interesting. I agree that the situation and conflicts are so complicated and it depends on the individuals background and viewpoint on how they see a situation. I think "authenticity" as a whole is a difficult matter for that reason. Yes a person can be authentic to themselves, but to a complicated situation? Not so sure about that.

I shall check the other book out, thank you!


message 23: by Asha (new)

Asha Jyothi | 4 comments Sorry, if I understood correctly, you're saying that it is difficult to evaluate authenticity when it comes to complex situations... I'd agree with that.


message 24: by Emmy B (new)

Emmy B | 8 comments I have really liked this book and will be continuing with the series.

Also, I'm glad I read this with all of you. Your comments really make me think of things I haven't been thinking about while I was reading this book.


message 25: by Marguerite (new)

Marguerite  (maggiechatsbooks) | 14 comments Finished the book today and have so many thoughts about it.
Writing - The writing was beautiful. It was so easy to be pulled into the story.

Characters - The character of Rehana rather complex. In the beginning of the book you understand that her family is everything. When she loses her children, Rehana is rather scarred and you see throughout the book where she makes choices that she would normally not make for the protection of her family.
The other characters were only represented through Rehana's eyes so I didn't feel like I knew much about them or their motivations for making the choices they did.

Story - I thought this would be more about the war for independence than is was. This wasn't a bad thing but it did make me want to read more about Bangladesh and its history.

I really liked this book in how it dealt with being a mother without a husband in a society where women are expected to be married. Also liked how it didn't make Rehana a saint. She did things that were controversial to protect her family and she regretted them but would probably do it again if needed.

The story did bog down for me a bit in the middle and I felt like we were rehashing a bit but it picked up and I am glad I read it to the end.


back to top

214339

The Read Around The World Book Club

unread topics | mark unread


Books mentioned in this topic

The Black Coat (other topics)