A Golden Age: a Novel, by Tahmima Anam (New York: Harper, 2007)
Set during the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence, A Golden Age follows the wartime experiences of Rehana Haque, widow and mother of two, 17-year-old Maya and 19-year-old Soheil. At first oblivious to the political unrest and only interested in protecting her children from danger, Rehana finds herself gradually pulled into the rebellion that has claimed her children’s passion and patriotism.
The sky over Bengal is empty. No mountains interrupt it; no valleys, no hills, no dimples in the landscape. It is flat, like a swamp, or a river that has nowhere to go. The eye longs for some blister on the horizon, some marker of distance, but finds none. Occasionally there are clouds; often there is rain, but these are only colours: the laundry-white of the cumulus, the black mantle of the monsoon.
Beyond the city there are no beautiful buildings that might sink in the heat or wilt under generations of rain. The promise of the land is not in the cities – their sky touching glamour, the tragedy of their run – but in the vast unfolding plains, this empty sky, this stretching horizon. Every year the land will turn to sea as it disappears under the spell of water, and then prevail again, as if by magic, and this refrain, this looping repetition, is the archive of its long, flood-turned history. – from A Golden Age, by Tahmima Anam