MEYEBELA: My Bengali Girlhood: A Memoir of Growing Up Female in a Muslim World

Taslima Nasrin, Author, Gopa Majumdar, Translator, Tasalima Nasarina, Author . Steerforth $26 (300p) ISBN 978-1-58642-051-2

Bangladeshi doctor-turned-writer Nasrin (Shame) has been living in exile since 1994, after Muslim clerics issued a fatwa against her for her criticism of Islam's repression of women. In this moving but uneven memoir, (seized when it was published in Bangladesh in 1999), Nasrin writes hauntingly of a childhood of confusion and pain. During the violent 1971 war that created Bangladesh, she and her family fled to the countryside, where she was introduced to the limits on her freedom that would only increase as she grew older. As a girl in a Muslim family, Nasrin was not allowed to go to the store to buy candy; she could not even play outside. The memoir shows the young Nasrin trying to make sense of taboos (why isn't her mother allowed to go to the movies?) and the mysteries of adulthood (why doesn't any grownup seem happy?). Married to a man who openly cheated on her, Nasrin's mother finds solace in religion: she visits a spiritual leader so revered that women fight over his partially chewed betel leaf, hoping his spittle will help them get into heaven. Nasrin's father beats her and her siblings to exhort them to do well at school. But Nasrin's tale—consistently heartbreaking and sometimes gorgeously written—grows disorganized as it progresses: the chronology becomes confusing, anecdotes get repeated, and the abrupt ending leaves many questions unanswered. (Sept. 1)

Reviewed on: 06/03/2002
Release date: 06/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
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