The Good Muslim

The Good Muslim is a novel by Tahmima Anam. This novel is a sequel to her debut novel A Golden Age and spans the year from 1984 to 1985, with occasional flashbacks to the aftermath of the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. It is a story about faith and family shadowed by a war. The family that has taken active part in the war of independence has now to face the challenges of peace, within and outside.

The Good Muslim
The Good Muslim book cover.jpg
The cover image of The Good Muslim (HarperCollins edition)
AuthorTahmima Anam
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreHistorical novel, Romance novel, Domestic fiction
Publication date
August 2, 2011
Media typePrint (Hardcover, Paperback)
Preceded byA Golden Age 
Followed byThe Bones of Grace 

Plot summaryEdit

The central characters of the novel are Maya and Sohail. While A Golden Age tells their story before and during the liberation war of Bangladesh, The Good Muslim tells their story a decade after the war.

In 1984, Maya returns home after almost a decade of absence and finds her beloved brother Sohail completely transformed. She still has the same revolutionary zeal, but Sohail has resorted to religiosity in its puritanical form and has become a charismatic religious leader, reflective of Bangladesh under the regime of General Hussain Muhammad Ershad, the President and dictator of Bangladesh who has promoted Islam over secularism. The ideological difference between Sohail and his sister creates a deep-seated schism in their minds. This difference is the central conflict in The Good Muslim. They have charted their own ways, opposite to each other's, of moving forward in the shadow of the tortuous history. Maya is a liberal-minded ‘village doctor’ who helps women victims of war. She performs abortions so that the women who had conceived as a result of rape do not have to carry the stigma. Thus she witnesses misery all the time, everywhere. Sohail's way of being a good Muslim is altogether different from his sister's. He has embraced an extreme version of Islam as defined by the Tablighi Jamaat, which shuns the joyful life filled with music, friends and liberal values. Sohail wants to send his son to a madrasa and, as a result, a conflict ensues between them and comes to a devastating climax.[1]

Critical receptionEdit

Initial reviews for the Good Muslim are mostly positive. Valerie Miner of the Los Angeles Times said "The Good Muslim brims with gripping narrative, absorbing history and Shakespearean moral conundrums ... a timely drama about the unpredictable effects of religious zealotry and political violence as well as a keen examination of survival and forgiveness."[2] Praising the novel, The Guardian said "Powerful and ambitious, The Good Muslim more than fulfills the promises of Tahmima Anam's celebrated debut, A Golden Age".[3] In a starred review Publishers Weekly said praising the narrative technique of Anam that in a "gripping and beautifully written" novel, "from historical, political, and social tragedy, Anam has fashioned a mesmerizing story capturing a culture and a time".[4] According to Ophelia Field of The Daily Telegraph, this second part of Anam's "projected trilogy" which begins with A Golden Age "confirms Anam as one of our most important novelists."[5]

A reviewer in a review that appeared in the e-journal Transnational Literature published from the Flinders University, Australia comments:

″Anam has successfully handled a grim theme with consummate skill. The novel is full of strong emotional undercurrents and intense passions. At times, it is too real and looks like a memoir rather than work of fiction. However, it will find a pride of place in any discussion on how individuals’ reactions to war and violence may differ in an attempt to find solace and reconcile with the self. It also offers a case study of one who has turned into a fundamentalist, or allegedly so, which is significant especially at a time when the world has been witnessing a rise in fundamentalism of various hues in many countries doomed to be war zones.″[6]

It was shortlisted for the 2013 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.[7]


  1. ^ Saleem, Mohammad (1 May 2012). "Review of The Good Muslim". Transnational Literature. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  2. ^ Miner, Valerie (14 August 2011). "Book review: 'The Good Muslim' by Tahmima Anam". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  3. ^ Hussein, Aamer (28 May 2011). "The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  4. ^ "The Good Muslim". Publishers Weekly. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  5. ^ Field, Ophelia (11 May 2011). "The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam: review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Tahmima Anam, The Good Muslim (Harper Collins, 2011)" (PDF). Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  7. ^ Supriya Nair (November 21, 2012). "DSC Prize 2013 shortlist announced". Mint. Retrieved November 21, 2012.