Reviews of Blame

Daily Star – Dhaka

Whose blame is it anyway?

Review by Shamsad Mortuza

“This new book Blame by the important Bangladeshi/Swedish novelist Dilruba Z. Ara, is a triumph of good, sophisticated writing. Indeed the novel is far better than her previous one – “A List of Offences”, a brilliant novel in its own right. The pacing is much better, the build up of tension tighter and, needless to say, as always with her novels, short stories and poetry, the language flowers.

Blame is set against the backdrop of Bangladesh’s war of independence when it took on the might of the Pakistani army, only to be rescued when it was on the brink of defeat by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s decision to send in the Indian army.

The story at first unfolds at a gentle pace. But it gathers speed quickly when Laila, the protagonist, leaves for Dacca and the imminent war envelops the characters one by one. It is not for me to reveal the plot except to say that once the reader is at this point it is difficult to put the book down.

At least every couple of months I am reading a new novel from the sub-continent. The standard is very high – frequently on a level with serious British and US novelists. This book joins that exclusive club.”

Jonathan Power. Journalist/Columnist The International Herald Tribune The author of Conundrums of Humanity
Jonathan Power (biographical details) – cosmos

“Blame, the second novel by Dilruba Z. Ara, is much more action filled than her first book, A List of Offences. It deals with the Civil War in Pakistan that ends with the creation of the free state of Bangladesh. The story revolves around some individual destinies in these troublesome times. In the centre is a young woman, Laila, who has to deal with the political, cultural and emotional turmoil she is stuck in. It feels both as a witness story and a more general portrayal of a woman’s plight in sorting out her emotions towards parents, lovers, oppressing cultural and religious circumstances. It’s not as painstaking in its delineation of the details of psychological conflicts as A list of Offences but has instead a heightened pulse that makes it impossible to put it down. This is another very strong piece of literature by Dilruba Ara.”

Prof Claes-Göran Holmberg
Comparative Literature/ Creative Writing Lund University

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