on 5 June 2013
Lifelines is a terrific collection of new voices from a place one doesn't hear enough from, at least not in the literary form. The voices, all Bangladeshi women and writing in English, have a real freshness of perspective and tone. There are stories about the kind of repression one expects to hear of in a conservative society, but there are also pieces full of unexpected verve and imaginative daring. Ali's story about a New York cab driver is a fine example of that newness. Even Nawaz's story about an under-age servant girl's sexual initiation may be a familiar enough topic for this region, but the prose is sharp and the story evokes the microcosm of a household with a kind of richness that is absorbing. It is heartening to see such a diversity of voices from a new place; Bangladesh, judging by this book, is clearly on the brink of a literary breakthrough.