Making it Big
Six books by Bangladeshi authors have made it big in the last decade
A Golden Age
288pp, John Murray, £14.99
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--from student leaders protesters to the country's leaders, from rickshaw-wallahs to the army's soldiers--must make choices. And as she struggles to keep her family safe, Rehana will find herself faced with a heartbreaking dilemma.
362pp, Fourth Estate, $27.95
Masud, who has lived in Australia for 30 years, returns to Bangladesh to bid farewell to his dying father. As he reacquaints himself with his family, he realises how little he really knows them and is surprised by their complex, shifting attitudes. He also discovers some family secrets. Most disturbing of all are the secrets of his young nephew.
320pp, Peepal Tree Press, £9.99
Tapan Ali falls in love with England and a student life of pot-smoking and philosophy. When the money to keep him runs out there seems no option but to return to Bangladesh until Adela, a fellow student, offers to marry him. But this marriage of convenience collapses and Tapan finds himself thrust into another England, the East London of Bangladeshi settlement and National Front violence. Tapan has to become a mole, able to smell danger and feel his way through the dark passageways and safe houses where the Bangladeshi community has mapped its own secret city. He must evade the informers like Poltu Khan, the 'rat' who sells illegals to the Immigration. But being a mole has its costs, and Tapan cannot burrow forever -- at some moment he must emerge into the light. But how can a mole fly?
389pp, Doubleday, £12.99
With its gritty Tower Hamlets setting, this sharply observed contemporary novel about the life of an Asian immigrant girl deals cogently with issues of love, cultural difference and the human spirit. Nazneen is a teenager forced into an arranged marriage with a man considerably older than her--a man whose expectations of life are so low that misery seems to stretch ahead for her. Fearfully leaving the sultry oppression of her Bangladeshi village, Nazneen finds herself cloistered in a small flat in a high-rise block in the East End of London. Because she speaks no English, she is obliged to depend totally on her husband. But it becomes apparent that, of the two, she is the real survivor: more able to deal with the ways of the world, and a better judge of the vagaries of human behaviour. She makes friends with another Asian girl, Razia, who is the conduit to her understanding of the unsettling ways of her new homeland.
The New Anthem
Edited by: Ahmede Hussain
Tranquebar Press, Rs 350
From Mohsin Hamid, Kamila Shamsie and Raj Kamal Jha to Amit Choudhuri, Altaf Tyrewala, Padma Viswanathan and Tabish Khair, this book anthologises twenty-two major writers of fiction who, with their original narrative styles, have reinterpreted the region's turbulent history at both personal and national levels. The New Anthem confirms that many of the most brilliant storytellers of world literature were born in the Indian subcontinent.
Like a Diamond in the Sky
264 pp, Penguin India, Rs 200
From Maria, a chemically imbalanced diva, to a rickshaw-walla who reflects on the importance of positive energy, to a group of fakirs who sing about love, and a detective who has his own take on addiction, the characters in Shazia Omar's debut novel crackle with life. They represent the despair, hopes and aspirations of a generation struggling to survive in the harsh realities of life in modern Dhaka.
Killing the Water
Each of these stories says something revealing and memorable about the effects of war, migration and displacement, as new lives play out against altered worlds 'back home.’
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