A child of the 1970s, new literary talent Tahmima Anam grew up surrounded by family memories of Bangladesh's bloody war of independence in which thousands were slaughtered by the Pakistan army.
Those memories inspired her much-praised debut novel A Golden Age just published in Bangladesh, which charts the impact of the bitter 1971 conflict on a widowed mother and her family.
For London-based Anam, 31, who heard about the independence struggle from her parents and grandparents, the legacy of the war is never far away in Bangladesh.
"William Faulkner said `the past is never dead, it's not even past' and it is very true about Bangladesh because there has never been a national reckoning about 1971," she said on a recent visit to Dhaka.
"In South Africa, they had a kind of national conversation. It was not perfect but it happened. Here there was no symbolic act of acknowledgement and all these wounds fester," she said.
It has never been established how many people were killed, raped and tortured during the war and according to Anam the years have done little to heal the wounds and divisions it left.
Freedom fighters are still feted as heroes while the Islamists' support for Pakistan -- in the name of Islamic unity -- remains a controversial subject blamed for the religious parties' failure to garner any significant votes in national elections.
The daughter of a leading Bangladeshi newspaper editor and granddaughter of a prominent satirist, Anam was born in Bangladesh but lived abroad for most of her childhood due to her father's early career as a UN official.
After studying social anthropology in the US she settled in London where she kickstarted her writing career by attending a creative writing course.
When she began her research, she was shocked to discover many war veterans had never discussed their experiences with their family.
"Some people were not ready [to talk]. Other people were very open. I think it was because they had a lot of pent-up emotions that they had not been able to express for many years," said Anam.
"One man told me I was the daughter he never had. But in fact he had a daughter, but she was not interested. I found out that a lot of children knew almost nothing of their parents' experiences."
A Golden Age opens in 1959 and follows the family of Rehana Haque as her sons grow up and join the independence movement and become freedom fighters.
For many ordinary Bangladeshis, says Anam, the war's horrors coexisted with an awareness that the conflict also marked a new beginning.
But she says those hopes were betrayed by a political elite whose corruption and misrule failed the country's hard-won democracy.
Since 1975 the impoverished country's history has been punctuated by coups, political assassinations and military dictatorship.
Democracy was restored in 1991 but successive governments succumbed to massive corruption. Those failures culminated in January in a state of emergency under a military-backed government.
The majority of Bangladeshis were so disillusioned with three decades of failed leadership they openly welcomed the suspension of democracy saying their politicians could simply not be trusted.
"I think these dreams have certainly been betrayed to a great extent," Anam said, adding, however, that she was not "totally despondent" about the future.
"The great resource of Bangladesh are the people who work so hard to keep the country developing despite the criminality of the leaders," she said.
She continues to be struck by the reaction to A Golden Age, which was published in London earlier this year to favorable reviews and has just hit bookstands in Dhaka.
"It has brought up so many feelings," she said. "It has become a vehicle through which people have started to remember the war."
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