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Good Muslim, The Paperback – August 2, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 297 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061478768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061478765
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,274,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Anam’s fluent prose and sharp insights are at their best when the narrative strays . . . into the surreal ways in which faith and love work-and sometimes fail.” (The New Yorker)

The Good Muslim brims with gripping narrative, absorbing history and Shakespearean moral conundrums. . . . A keen examination of survival and forgiveness.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Anam has an eye for culture, and for cultural dissonance. The writer’s gift is to make the unfamiliar understood. The Good Muslim succeeds in doing exactly that, and doing it well.” (Denver Post)

“Throughout the novel’s extremes of violence and tragedy, Anam always allows the ultimate humanity of the characters to shine through.” (Kirkus)

“Anam has a gift for tackling complex issues both personal and political.” (Library Journal)

“Gripping and beautifully written. . . . From historical, political, and social tragedy, Anam has fashioned a mesmerizing story capturing a culture and a time.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Anam seems to be a novelist not so much luxuriating in the act of writing as in total control of it, using the right words to create her stunning story.” (Arifa Akbar, The Independent)

“Anam tells a poignant, little-known story of a country often lost in the maze of global politics.” (Booklist)

From the Back Cover

From prizewinning Bangladeshi novelist Tahmima Anam comes her deeply moving second novel about the rise of Islamic radicalism in Bangladesh, seen through the intimate lens of a family.

Pankaj Mishra praised A Golden Age, Tahmima Anam's debut novel, as a "startlingly accomplished and gripping novel that 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." In her new novel, The Good Muslim, Anam again deftly weaves the personal and the political, evoking with great skill and urgency the lasting ravages of war and the competing loyalties of love and belief.

In the dying days of a brutal civil war, Sohail Haque stumbles upon an abandoned building. Inside he finds a young woman whose story will haunt him for a lifetime to come. . . . Almost a decade later, Sohail's sister, Maya, returns home after a long absence to find her beloved brother transformed. While Maya has stuck to her revolutionary ideals, Sohail has shunned his old life to become a charismatic religious leader. And when Sohail decides to send his son to a madrasa, the conflict between brother and sister comes to a devastating climax. Set in Bangladesh at a time when religious fundamentalism is on the rise, The Good Muslim is an epic story about faith, family, and the long shadow of war.

More About the Author

Tahmima Anam was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 1975. She attended Mount Holyoke College, and received a PhD in social anthropology from Harvard University. The Good Muslim is the second novel, following A Golden Age, in her Bengal Trilogy. She lives in London.

Customer Reviews

This is a fine example of good writing, and I am better off today from having read this book.
I was left with the feeling that I'd read a carefully constructed story, a story designed to pull emotions from me that I just didn't feel.
Sometimes I get hung up on poor dialogue or extraneous description, but Anam's flow is perfect, so I really lost myself in this book.
L. King

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Someone Else TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A Golden Age introduced the widow Rehana Haque and her two teenagers, Sohail and Maya, as they participated in the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence.
The Good Muslim is the second book in the Haque family trilogy. It begins in 1984, thirteen years after the war. Bangladeshis are not necessarily much better off than before the war. The country has had two presidents assassinated and is now living under the thumb of the Dictator. Martial law is in effect, war criminals still have not been prosecuted, and religious extremism is building.

Once inseparable, Sohail and his sister Maya were driven apart following the war. Sohail felt the need to atone for his part in the war by gradually falling into an extreme practice of Islam. Maya became a doctor and shunned religion. The two have had no contact since 1977, when Maya fled from Dhaka in anger at her brother's complete renunciation of all the worldly things he once treasured. She felt she had lost the brother she loved, her heart's companion.

Maya returns to Dhaka in 1984. She is distressed at her brother's continued religiosity, yet she is seduced by its promises when disease threatens her mother's life. She quickly forges a strong bond with her motherless nephew Zaid. Sohail has other plans for the boy, deepening the rift between brother and sister. Maya finds it impossible to connect with her brother. His religious devotion is so intense that he neglects his son's needs and turns his back on old friends. As in the old days, Maya can't help finding ways of getting herself in hot water. She's an intelligent, bold, outspoken woman in a country that favors female submission.

Tahmima Anam's strength lies in writing about the intricacies of familial love and loyalty.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By BrianB VINE VOICE on June 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In 1971 Pakistan split into two nations, present day Pakistan and Bangladesh, by means of a brutal civil war. In the aftermath of that war, citizens of Bangladesh celebrated their hard won independence, while trying to cope with the horrors that had been inflicted upon them, and the horrors that they had inflicted. Thousands of women had been raped, and many of them were pregnant. The new government called them heroes, but there was no heroes' welcome awaiting them at home, in a land where a raped woman can be put to death to preserve the honor of her family. Many soldiers had been through a brutal experience, and they were left to their own devices when the war was over. They did not find many therapists to help them with post traumatic stress.

Tahmima Anam has crafted a beautifully written story of a woman's life after war, a life constrained by custom and religion, lived with dependence and independence, beauty and sorrow, and the pervasive sense of loss. Within alternating chapters of past and present, we learn Maya's history, her fractured bonds to family, friends, and religion, her growing despair for her country, and the heavy price of a woman's freedom in a land of misogyny and fundamentalism.

Maya and her mother are real and fascinating characters. The author speaks from Maya's perspective, so we get to know her best. She is a complex bundle of contradictions. She has lost her beloved older brother, Sohail to a strict form of Islam that precludes just about every form of human activity. He rebuffs her attempts to reestablish their relationship. Sohail's son Zaid, ill clothed, underfed, and emotionally abandoned, is forbidden from attending school, until a suitably Islamic one can be found, where an even more heartbreaking fate awaits.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This was one of those "oh, well, why not" books for me - the kind I pick up thinking they might be interesting, although once I've got them sitting in the giant to-be-read pile on my floor, nothing about it shouted out "read me now". And when I eventually did pick it up and plunge into this narrative of life in the newly-independent nation of Bangladesh, I immediately found myself riveted by the struggles of the characters to make sense of the world that peace and independence had brought about -- and when I reluctantly reached the bottom of the final page, I immediately added Tahmima Anam's wonderful novel to my list of the best books I've read this year.

Although it's the second of two novels, the first of which presumably deals with the experiences of Maya, her brother Sohail and their friends during the war of independence in the early 1970s, this can be easily read on its own, as I did; the author gracefully introduces the background to us throughout the story without it ever feeling as if we're being debriefed. (That's not to say, of course, that this wouldn't have been a still richer experience had I read A Golden Age: A Novel (P.S.) first.) When the story opens, Maya is making her way home slowly across the country to Dhaka, which she had left years earlier. Her religious sister-in-law -- who had helped make her home no longer feel like home and helped, she is convinced, to turn her brother into an unrecognizably devout Muslim -- is now dead, Maya has encountered problems at the rural health clinic that she set up to help mothers and their babies, and so she returns to the city where her mother, brother and young nephew now live.
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