Title: The Good Muslim
Author: Tahmima Anam
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Books
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
PP: 304 pages
Price: Rs. 499
It isn’t easy to write a sequel, specially when the first book was a resounding success. Of course comparisons will be made and sides will be taken. How can the author not expect that? The fact is that Tahmima Anam doesn’t have to worry about that as The Good Muslim is as brilliantly written as A Good Muslim. One can read The Good Muslim in isolation as well, you don’t have to read the first book, however since the premise is that of a trilogy, it is best recommended that you do.
We meet the children again and their mother. We meet them after years and the Bangladeshi War of Independence contines. Rehana has regained her two children after years and that is where the story begins – from Rehana’s subconcious and what she feels while Sohail and Maya move in and out. Maya is now a surgeon. Sohail is a fundamentalist – well almost. The book is about Sohail and Maya surviving the war and living with the consequences of their actions. There is a depth to it told in deftly controlled prose. It is once again beautifully written and yet more devastating because it is sparse. There is no over-writing here. Anam deals with the consequences of war: the killings, the rapes, the fate of war babies, the shame and the injustices.
Maya does not know how to react to Sohail’s religion persona. She cannot recognize him anymore. How Sohail changed from a carefree brilliant student to a troubled soldier, scarred by his experiences and unable to help the woman he rescues and with whom he has fallen in love. Rehana on the other hand is older and happy that her family is back together, however not in the way she had imagined. It is a tale of fractured and broken lives and how sometimes one doesn’t know where to pick up the pieces and start again.
Anam’s tale is vividly told and yet though the book and subject is a tough one, she doesn’t let the book get heavy. There were times when I thought that may be the book was getting preachy, but I was wrong, as the next sentence immediately shook me up and that defines brilliant writing in my opinion. The Good Muslim is even better than the first book. A must read.