So, again, this was definitely a book that I chose because the title grabbed me by the metaphoric balls. The good Muslim? Did they mean “good” in quotes? If so, why? Was this a book preaching that all Muslims are bad? Because I wasn’t sure I wanted to read that book šŸ˜¦ I had to know what was going on!

And thus: to Bangladesh, and The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam:

This book touches on several big subjects: rape, abortion, religious fanaticism, political freedom, and the struggle to adjust that too many soldiers have when the return home. It’s actually the second in a series, and someday I will read the rest of the series…when I have time… *sighs wistfully*

wistful sigh

So, the first thing you should know is that Bangladesh, like so many other places in the world, has pretty much been ripped apart by war. The main part of this story takes place after the Bangladesh Liberation War that won Bangladesh it’s independence from Pakistan…but also devastated the country in many, many ways. The story focuses onĀ a young doctor, Maya, and her relationship with her brother, Sohail, who fought as a soldier during the war. Sohail has never been the same since the war, and now spends his time as a deeply dedicated Muslim holy man.

What struck me the most about this novel were the similarities between super strict MuslimsĀ and super strict Christians. Like, at one point Maya is trying to convince Sohail to let his son go to school. The kid is more than old enough to have learned how to read and write by now, but instead he barely knows how to spell out his own name, and Sohail refuses to send him to school because “he can learn at home.” Ugh! It just reminds me of those hardcore Evangelical Christian parents who home school their kids and then their kids go off to college or to get a job and they’re like “Wtf. I know nothing.” Because parents are NOT better than teachers at teaching!Ā What are you so afraid of your child learning – that you don’t know everything?! Or that there are other ideas out there besides yours?! Grrrrr. End rant.

The book isn’t really talking about the violent kind of fanaticism – more like the very, very frustrating kind. Not the scary, violent kind. Although it comes close sometimes, I admit. For example, at one point Sohail burns all of his books, because they’re “too worldly.” As a librarian, that scares the shit out of me – and it should scare the shit out of you, too! Book burning will lead you nowhere good, guys! Some very famous bad people have burned books! Famous good people do not burn books!

The ending is what really got me, though. There may or may not have been tears. Anam really does a good job of bringing several different characters and events together to form a satisfying ending.

What you have read from Bangladesh?