”A Golden Age” by “Tahmima Anam” presents a plot constructed on the background of Bangladesh War of Independence 1971. The plot is plagued by numerous obvious effects of war of independence like loss of the dear ones, personality transformation of the affected ones, traumas and struggles of individuals in the shadow of war and revolution etc. The story is framed around the life of Rehana (protagonist of the story) and her family which is affected by the war. The narration is full of transformation in personalities of the characters of the story.
The story begins with a widowed women “Rehana” losing a court case thereby losing her daughter and son to her in-laws in Pakistan. The instance of losing the case and losing her husband transforms Rehana to a mother whose sole aim is to get her son and daughter back. The story moves a bit faster till the point where the mother gets back her son and daughter and the country comes to the verge of war.
Maya (Rehana’s daughter) and Sohail (Rehana’s son) are highly involved in student politics and are enthusiastic about Bangladesh’s sovereignty. The environment of war enrages the spirit of patriotism in the two, but at the same mother is presented as a protectionist where her love for her children is greater than her love towards the nation. Her initial protectionist response is overcome and influenced by the love of her children towards the nation. The transformation of Rehana from a protectionist mother to a patriotic citizen of the nation has been depicted in the novel in a beautiful way and in a fashion which is very natural to the Indian Subcontinent context, which can be easily accepted and understood by Indian Sub-Continent Readers.
The novel also offers glimpses of the poverty and the situation of refugee camp during the times of war. The situation and backdrop of the plot is very similar to the older Indian cinemas in which poverty were the main theme. The novel also brings about the rift between the Muslim and Hindu during the war times subtly.
The book is a good read for individuals who want to gain insights into Indian SubContinent culture, family life and a glimpse into the war of independence of Bangladesh. The novel is unlike the novels written on backdrop of war of independences which present a deluge of historical facts and hence become boring to not very avid readers. The book has touched upon the historical facts and incidences meagerly. On the contrary, the author has focussed on presenting the environment of war in a much more interesting mode through the eyes of characters of the novel.