Review: Revenge by Taslima Nasrin
Author: Nasrin, Taslima
Translator: Moore, Honor
Length: 200 pages
Genre: Fiction, General
Publisher / Year: Feminist Press / 2010
Source: Borrowed from Carina
Why I Read It: I first heard about the book via Maphead, and requested a review copy but never received it. Carina offered to lend it to me a few weeks ago and I jumped at the chance to finally read it.
Date Read: 20/06/11
This book shows how jealousy and mistrust can drive a wedge into a relationship, and how expectations and assumptions don’t always turn out to be correct. Jhumur marries her sweetheart Haroon, excited after their fantastic courtship for more of the same. Instead she becomes an almost slave to the family, not allowed to leave the house, not allowed to stay in close contact with her friends and family, and forced to cover herself completely. When she becomes pregnant shortly after marriage her husband’s jealousy comes out full force and he refuses to believe the baby is his, forcing her into an abortion. The rest of the story follows her after this act, trying to live with the consequences and in some way get revenge on her husband for his mistrust of her.
Nasrin in this book does a really great job of highlighting the clash of cultures between the old and the new, and the ways in which culture shock can set in for those forced to adapt from one to the other. Jhumur is shocked to learn how she is expected to live and the myriad rules and restrictions placed upon her, especially given how she was raised and how Haroon treated her prior to the marriage. Her family is shocked to see her accept the role she is given in her new family and adapt to it.
The book also takes on jealousy and mistrust and the ways in which they can ruin a relationship and come between people, causing irreparable harm. Through this we see the ways in which Jhumur is damaged, the ways that the mistrust scars her and causes her to doubt herself, and to retaliate.
As I sat there in the bathroom, taking stock of the past few days, my mind throbbed with scattered, panicked thoughts. Everything was topsy-turvy. My life was being pulled down into a tornado, a gathering storm. I had managed pretty well, I’d always thought. But what I felt coming toward me was utterly unfamiliar, and I was too young to understand that my husband’s irrational behavior had nothing to do with me, that he was in the grip of a monstrous obsession of which not even he was conscious. I had never felt such confusion and fear. (page 68)
The story is subtitled A Fable and it really is in a way. It highlights the dangers of jumping into anything to please another. It highlights the danger of jealousy. It gives women options on how to take revenge. Highly recommended as a really great and thought-provoking book about the place of women and what can happen when a strong, independent woman is treated poorly.