A Golden Age

Set in 1971, during the Bangladesh war of independence, Tahmima Anam’s earnest, slightly awkward first novel, A Golden Age follows the struggles of widow Rehana Haque to keep her family’s ”ordinary, unexceptional lives” on track. She fails, of course. Her children join the rebellion, friends are arrested or killed, and a darkly appealing fugitive takes shelter in Rehana’s home, introducing her to the music of Nina Simone and reawakening other, long-dormant appetites. The novel is eventful, exotic, intelligent, and romantic. What Anam lacks is the confident storytelling voice to bring all the pieces together into a compelling whole. B-

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