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02 June 2009

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Kelly Leavitt

Overall, I really enjoyed the novel. Tahmima Anam’s writing is very fluid and personal, making it quite approachable. By reading the book I learned a great deal about Bangladeshi culture and history (possibly even a few Bengali words!), whereas before my reading I knew little about the topic. Isn't this one of the sole reasons we turn to books-to explore and learn about places we haven't yet been or known? For that reason, I think it was a great choice to kick off the club.

In response to a question above, the three moral choices that Rehana faces in the novel define the text’s central theme and underlying story. Although the novel is obviously about political struggles that are very specific to the Bangladeshi War of Independence in the 1970s, the novel is ultimately about a much more universal topic—a mother’s love for her children. I imagine any mother could relate to the book, which again makes it appealing worldwide.

What I also find interesting is the role/theme of language in the novel. In the English text, she often does not translate Bengali words or phrases. In addition, Rehana's fluency in Urdu plays a large part in saving her son. I think her choice not to translate the certain phrases is clever as the politics of language reflect the political backdrop of the novel. I am curious if Anam felt ambivalent at all by writing such a personal and national story in English and not Bengali. Perhaps it was translated into Bengali?

I'd love to hear other thoughts.

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