cover image The Good Muslim

The Good Muslim

Tahmima Anam. Harper, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-147876-5

Repercussions from the Bangladeshi war of independence ricochet through the Haque family in this gripping and beautifully written sophomore novel from Anam (A Golden Age). On his way back to Dhaka after the war in 1971, Sohail Haque stops at a barracks recently occupied by the retreating army, where he opens a door onto a horrible scene. When he arrives home transformed, his mother, Rehana, is alarmed by the change in her once carefree son and begins reading to him from the Koran. Maya, his sister, struggles to understand her brother's trauma, even as her work performing abortions for the Bangladeshi women who were raped by soldiers shows her another aspect of the war's aftermath. Sohail becomes an increasingly devout Muslim, while Maya starts a clinic in a distant village where, after delivering an imperfect baby, she is driven away. She returns to find that her brother's son, Zaid, is unkempt and poorly educated, old friends have grown affluent and complacent, and her mother has ovarian cancer. Maya begins writing increasingly inflammatory political articles and attempting to educate her nephew while her mother's health worsens and her brother withdraws further into his religion. From historical, political, and social tragedy, Anam has fashioned a mesmerizing story capturing a culture and a time, while showing that despite the worst, people go on to live their lives. (Aug.)