Shame

Taslima Nasrin, Author, Kankabati Datta, Translator, Tasalima Nasarina, Author
Taslima Nasrin, Author, Kankabati Datta, Translator, Tasalima Nasarina, Author Prometheus Books $35.98 (303p) ISBN 978-1-57392-165-7
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In the introduction to this fiercely felt political novel of Bangladesh (which was a black market bestseller in India), Nasrin cites the opinions of certain friendly Bengali critics who said that it was ""no work of literature. . . an important testament [that] still fell short."" American readers may agree. Set in Bangladesh in 1992, just after the destruction of the 450-year-old Babri Mosque, in India, by Hindu fundamentalists, Nasrin's fevered plot revolves around a Hindu family and its struggles in the face of retaliatory Muslim fanaticism. The main characters are an idealistic veteran of the Liberation War, his wife and his children, a disaffected intellectual son and a 21-year-old daughter who is abducted by Muslim street toughs. But the story hardly belongs to these imaginary characters, since Nasrin peppers their tribulations with her own polemics and reportage and, in the guise of conversation, introduces page-long litanies of the horrors suffered by real-life Bengali Hindus: thousands of women raped, countless property destroyed, children burned alive. Herself a Muslim, Nasrin has been called an agent for Indian Hindu fundamentalists and has been charged with ""hurting the religious feelings of the people."" Since a fatwa was issued against her, she has gone into hiding in Europe. The criminal cases against her are still pending in Bangladesh. (Oct.)
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