The story starts with Rehana at her husband Iqbal's grave saying that she has lost the children. It was a peculiar twist and for a moment I thought the children had died but very soon we learn that Iqbal's brother through a court order has obtained legal custody of Rehana's two children. Rehana is heart broken because she feels that she was given an opportunity of speaking up in court and she did not do so. Now it is upto her to find a way to get her children back.
The story of Rehana and Maya and Sohail( whom Rehana gets back within an year) is one part of the story. The other is the period in history in Bangladesh where the great partition took place, where Pakistan and Bangladesh were divided, over a million people died, hundreds of thousands of families became refugees on both sides of the border, and where war and brutality affected the ordinary man. Ordinary women like Rehana who was just a middle class widow trying to bring up her two teenaged children.
How the beginning of the war destroys life as it was for Rehana, the growth of urban terrorism and Sohail himself being a guerilla, how Maya turned her talent for writing towards propaganda for the cause of Bangladesh's freedom is the story of The Golden Age. It is also about Rehana hoping and praying that life could go back to what it was before the war. This can of course never be - life never ever goes back to what it was before.
This book was awarded a prize in 2008 and is a very comfortable read. My first read of a Bangladeshi author and now I must look for The Good Muslim the sequel to this. This book is part of my contribution towards the South Asian Challenge 2011 conducted by S. Krishna.