A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

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 she was widowed, have grown up and are in university. She now feels secure and comfortable, she has kept her children safe. The country is in the brink of a civil war. East Pakistan is fighting for independence and her children, she realizes, are right in the middle of it all. Not for them, the everyday worries of safety and security. Her sense of security vanishes overnight.

The life that she carefully tried to preserve, carefully nurtured, is all in pieces. Political upheavals seem to be mirrored in personal upheavals. Things which they took for granted are suddenly questioned.

While the sequel was largely about Maya and Sohail. The Golden Age, I would say, is mainly about Rehana. It is her story. Her struggles, her choices, and her life. Even when her choices seem wrong, it is difficult to judge her because her circumstances seem so tough on her. The ties that bind a mother to her children, and the extents to which people are forced to go because of their circumstances. Rehana finds herself part of a war, an upheaval that she wanted no part of, but is powerless to do anything about it.

I particularly liked the way the author has woven political incidents and upheavals into the story. Rehana’s life in East Pakistan before it became Bangladesh is a window to life in East Pakistan and the way it all changed. Hindus who considered it their homeland, suddenly realized that they had to run for their lives. When suddenly everybody has to choose sides, and hope that they have chosen the right side. While the older generation struggles with the choices, the younger generation is the one with the spirit to fight for what they consider their right. I can’t imagine what it must be to live through a war like this, but can only guess, that despite the tremendous losses, what they gained must be so very precious. A tale of love, heart-break, strife and hope.

A wonderful book. A book which I would recommend to everybody who likes books set in political situations and history. I especially love books of this sort, as it gives me an insight to how everyday life gets changed irrevocably by political decisions and political situations.

Edited to add: Title corrected – all thanks to Saks πŸ™‚

22 thoughts on “A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

  1. What a coincidence!! I am reading the same book right now. I picked it up on a whim as someone had left it near the self checkout and I was short of time to browse through the aisles for books πŸ™„

    Btw I had to get my book to double check if I was reading the same because err It’s titled “A” Golden Age and not “The” :mrgreen:*Talk about a Grammar-less person like me trying to act like all those Grammar Nazis you find online these days* 😳


  2. You know your reviews are the ones that I follow to make my books’ shopping list Smiths… I highly bank on your reccos… and now that this blog has come up, I’m super glad to have assorted book reviews πŸ™‚ thanks !


  3. Hey Smits, I’ve just placed an order wth amazon for two books, actually 3- one for Namnu and 2 for self. One of them is this one which I zeroed in on after searching your blog for a good book. The other book is Secret Daughter which I stumbled upon Amazon while looking for Oleander Girl. I opted four Secret Daughter because I liked the summary given there. Then I looked for your review on the book on good reads and decided to go in for it..
    \I’m hoping I’ll like these books because I loved your reviews, especially of The Golden Age. Seems like a great book!

    Cant wait to have them delivered!

    Just thought would let you know, so dropped by πŸ™‚


      • Hey, Amazon has Oleander Girl, hardcover but. Not paperback. But you read on Kindle as well, no? There’s a Kindle version too available there, in case you want to check out πŸ™‚


        • Let me check it out. My problem with the kindle is that I don’t feel like reading it when I have regular books πŸ™‚ I keep putting away the kindle, even when I have just mediocre books on me. But this book might tempt me to pick up that Kindle after all:)


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