(2012) #11 review: A Golden Age

A Golden Age


Tahmima ANAM

276 pages

Published by Harper in 2008

I read this book for the following Challenges:



I enjoy more and more doing this reading challenge which makes me visit so many different countries and read books I would probably never have read otherwise.

When I was  about 8, I met a young man who had just come back form Bangladesh with a little orphan he had found there. This was my only contact and knowledge with that country, apart from horrific images of famine and flood.

I enjoyed very much this book, set during the war of independence of Bangladesh. It was excellent at showing the love of the country of the characters, in particular in a mother who had also a very deep love for her 2 children. This deep love will lead her to do something very particular, very difficult for this good woman.
It is probably totally by chance, but I had just finished this novel on the Sunday when our Church was reading  Matthew 25:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

   37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

   40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

It struck me that Rehana DID all these things on the course of the novel. That sheds a particular light on the last act she had to do for the love of her children.

I’m using now questions proposed by another challenge: around the world in 12 countries – we had to read a book on Bangladesh in February:

What did you learn about the country’s culture, history etc. from reading this book?
Everything! There were a lot of daily life scenes that gave a good idea of the culture. and of course the historical situation with the independence from Pakistan was well explained, from different perspectives – civilians and military as well.

Any new insights, any shifts in your perception, or did it align with what you knew/understood already?
The country sounds much more beautiful than the hosts I had seen on tv or in magazines decades ago, at the time of the war.


How did land, geography, flora and fauna feature in the book? Did it have a distinct feel that helped you visualise and made you feel like you were there, or was the story more focused on plot?
Absolutely, you could see and smell the flowers, for instance


As young widow Rehana Haque awakes one March morning, she might be forgiven for feeling happy. Her children are almost grown, the city is buzzing with excitement after recent elections. Change is in the air.
But no one 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’s life is about to change forever.
Set against the backdrop of the Bangladesh War of Independence, ‘A Golden Age’ is a story of passion and revolution, of hope, faith, and unexpected heroism. In the chaos of this era, everyone must make choices. And as she struggles to keep her family safe, Rehana will be forced to face a heartbreaking dilemma. [goodreads]


Tahmima Anam was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1975. She was raised in Paris, New York City, and Bangkok.

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 the 2008 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book. It was translated into 22 languages.

Her writing has been published in Granta, The New York Times, and the Guardian.

She lives in London.


‘Tahmima Anam’s startlingly accomplished and gripping novel describes not only the tumult of a great historical event… but also the small but heroic struggles of individuals living in the shadow of revolution and war’  – Pankaj Mishra

“I couldn’t tear myself away from A Golden Age…the authenticity shines through Anam’s beautiful, simple prose.”  – Martha Kearney, Harper’s Bazaar

“There is a powerful feeling of tension as we wait to see how [the] story of domestic loss will work its way into the narrative of civil war, and when it does the result is heart-shattering.” – Kamila Shamsie, Guardian Review

Other reviews and material available on the author’s website.



February wrap-up

Ouch, February is already over, it didn’t make much of a difference of having an extra day, did it?

At the reading level, I managed to reach 9 books, which is not bad for me, BUT I have not reviewed yet any of these 9 books, AND I still need to review 1 book read in January… [I will add the links as I review these books].

That’s 1136 pages, with an average of 39.1 pages/day
and 25:13 hours, with an average of 52 mn/day for the audiobooks

The culprit is mainly the 157-page book I had to translate, that’s over 67,000 words, so that was a lot of writing! I probably also spent too much time reading other blogs through my Google reader, and recommendations and reviews on Goodreads, not mentioning a few Words with friends games…

So let’s look at it positively now, here are the 9 books.


Le dieu du carnage, by Yasmina Reza
      recommended and sent by a French student!
Death of Kings, by Bernard Cornwell
     I had been waiting to read the latest in the series of the Saxon Chronicles
A Golden Age, by Tahmina Anam
     historical novel on the Bangladesh war of independence, for my 52-countries challenge
Macbeth, by Shakespeare
for another challenge. That’s a re-read, I studied it at length decades ago.

3 of these fiction books were audiobooks:

Cleopatra’s Daughter, by Michelle Moran
I loved so much Madame Tussaud that I want now to read other books by Moran
Mrs Pollifax and The Whirling Dervish, by Dorothy Gilman
       A fun fun mystery set in Morocco, again for that international challenge
And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
My library is launching a city reads focusing on mysteries, and this will be part of a book club, and there are so many books by Agatha Christie I feel I should know about

Here are my favorite fiction for the month, on paper and audio
the 2 mysteries I listened to were really good.


Exploring The Inner Universe, by Archimandrite Roman Braga
        By this amazing Orthodox priest I know, who spent years in prison and under torture during the communist regime in Romania.
That’s an interview on his life and on important issues in his country

CliffsNortes on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, by Alex Went
very well done, with interesting categories for study.

My favorite non-fiction


Reading Challenges recap

Around the World in 52 books:  12/52
Around the world in 12 books: 2/12
European reading challenge: 5/5 – COMPLETED
I love Italy: 0/1-3
Dewey Decimal: 12/20
We want you to read French authors: 5/5 or 10 (ends in August)
Books in translation: 3/10-12
South Asia: 2/7
Middle East: 2/18
My own reading challenge: 0/5
What’s in a Name: 3/5
Ebook challenge: 3/10
Audiobook: 3/12
Support your library: 14/37
Finishing the series: 1/1 – COMPLETED
2nds challenge: 2/3
Foodies: 1/3
Japanese literature: 0/? (starts in June)
Historical novels: 4/7-10
New authors challenge: 11/15
A Shakespeare play a month: 2/12
Graham Green Challenge: 0/1


Blog recap

December 2011:    29 posts =  total views =  1,718  = 55/day
January 2012:        21 posts =  total views =  2,165  = 70/day
February 2012:     10 posts! = total views=   1,310  = 45/day

How was YOUR month of February?