Bangladesh: Engaging Subject, Vague Execution

Taslima Nasrin’s Lajja: Shame is an provocative book in many ways. My expectations were high, but unfortunately the book did not live up to them. The setting in intriguing. There have been many books written about religious persecution, but not that many are set in Bangladesh. Persecution is always persecution, extremely degrading and harrowing.

The Duttas, a family of four, are Hindus and they’ve lived their whole lives in Bangladesh. Most of their family and friends have left the country because of the fundamental Muslims, who are terrorising the Hindus. Everything takes a turn for the worse when a mosque is demolished in India by Hindus in 1992. This actually happened, which means that the family and what happened to them is fiction, but the events in Bangladesh and India are factual.

There are some interesting elements to the story. I especially enjoy the friendship between the Muslims and Hindus, and the story of how they kept on being friends during these turbulent times. Unfortunately I did not warm up to any of the characters. They were distant and unrealistic. I tried to feel a connection to them, but it never happened.

I have rarely read a fictitious book filled with so much factual details. This made me less than happy. When I read fiction I don’t want to read page after page of events that occurred, or name after name listed, on too many pages to even count. Sometimes it felt like these events mentioned were just filling, because I can hardly see many readers interested in reading which temple was destroyed in repetition. If it were nonfiction it would be a different story. I would read it to learn about what occurred in real life.

The writing was boring as well. I do not see a point in constantly repeating how many Hindus lived in Bangladesh in year X and then again in year Y. Obviously the percentage was always included. In my opinion this should not be included in a fictitious book. It was terrible annoying, and made me want to quit reading the book.

The book had so much potential, since it is an interesting subject. I would love to read another book about how a family lived through the difficult time of being a Hindu in Bangladesh. Well, to be honest, I should write about this in present tense, since the Hindus are still being attacked, and only two days ago a temple was vandalised, not to mention the 10 temples vandalised a few weeks ago.

Nasrin’s writing have had at least one major impact, and she has hit an extremely sore point, because the fundamentalists in Bangladesh have issued a fatwa against her. Apparently she was too critical of how women are being treated under Islamic rule. Nasrin is a bold woman, and I hope she continues to write. Lajja: Shame was not to my liking, but I am interested in the subject, and I am happy to see women like Nasrin standing up in the name of human rights.

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