My book highlights the personal costs of extremism: Author | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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My book highlights the personal costs of extremism: Author

mumbai Updated: Aug 01, 2011 01:45 IST
Aarefa Johari

Forty years after Bangladesh won its independence, the 1971 war still features prominently in the imagination of the nation's youth, says Dhaka-born author Tahmima Anam.

It's no surprise then that the war and its aftermath form the backdrop of Anam's new book, The Good Muslim.

"I wanted to show that debates on Islamic fundamentalism are not just held in the Western and Muslim worlds, but exist within Islam as well," said Anam, 36, who was in Mumbai for the release of The Good Muslim on Saturday.

Second in a trilogy about the personal and political struggles of a Bangladeshi family, the book is about the friction between a brother who turns to Islam after the traumatic war, and a sister with secularist ideals who cannot accept his conversion.

In the book, the protagonist believes in a progressive, secular society but is "fundamentalist" in her intolerance towards her brother's faith. A child suffers the consequences of the conflict between the siblings.

"I did not want to shy away from talking about the personal costs of extremism," said Anam, whose book leaves the question of who makes a good Muslim unanswered.

Although Anam grew up in Paris, New York and Bangkok and now lives in London, her parents who were former freedom fighters raised her on stories of the war and of Bangladesh's early post-independence years.

The war was a natural choice of subject when she started writing The Golden Age, her debut novel and the first part of the trilogy. "When I was growing up, I was fascinated by stories of the war, because it felt like a more hopeful time than the one we live in," said Anam.

The final book in Anam's trilogy will be themed on climate change and will feature the children of the estranged siblings of The Good Muslim. "If it happens, Bangladesh will be the first and biggest victim of climate change," she said.