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WoWasis book review: ‘Short Takes: Stories from Bangladesh’ by Tanvir Malik

Written By: herbrunbridge - Apr• 28•13

ShortTakesMalikLike a cranky Bangladeshi locomotive, author Tanvir Malik’s Short Takes: Stories from Bangladesh (2010, ISBN 978-93-80154-40-4) takes a while to get started and gain momentum. Here at WoWasis, we found that this collection of eighteen stories over 136 pages doesn’t get its sea legs until the fourth story, Veil Over Eyes, takes hold on page 23. And from there on, the book has a number of compelling stories.

Veil Over Eyes is a magnificent story revolving around a man’s fetishizing over women in burkhas. He becomes increasingly attracted to the forbidden, enthusing over women plucked eyebrows and eye makeup. He’s somewhat confused, as his branch of Islam promotes covering a woman as a means of removing male interest in her. Finally, he goes to the mosque, seeking an explanation of his confusion from the imam, who’s flabbergasted. “This is not a place to crack jokes,” says the holy man, incredulous.

Perhaps the most poignant tale is Murky Motive, regarding a religious figure turned politician, who manufactures a tragedy to gain sympathy and political clout.

Overall, Malik’s book gives the reader a real sense of Bangladesh, and especially the traffic, heat, noise, and confusion of the capital of Dhaka. The book is also an important reminder that in Islamic countries like Bangladesh, there are writers like Tanvir Malik, unafraid to expose religious charlatans and hypocrisies. Buy the book here at the WoWasis eStore.

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