Scenes from Early Life

Philip Hensher

“I was a baby during the war. We stayed inside for months. All my aunts took turns in feeding me. I couldn’t be heard to cry. You see, there were soldiers in the streets. They would have known what a crying baby meant. So I had to be kept silent. No, not everyone came out of the war alive.” One family’s life, and a nation – Bangladesh – are uniquely created through conversation, sacrifice, songs, bonds, blood, bravery and jokes. Narrated by a young boy born into a savage civil war, ‘Scenes from Early Life’ is a heartbreaking, funny and gripping novel by one of our finest writers.

Reviews of Scenes from Early Life

    • ‘An unostentatious tour de force, combining a tender and richly affectionate family memoir with a vividly evoked portrait of town and country life and the story of the birth of a nation. It is full of surprises’ Margaret Drabble
    • ‘Beautifully packed with detail … does for Bangladesh what Salmon Rushdie did for India with Midnight’s Children … It is a remarkable re-creation of a land that most of us know little about’ Sunday Times
    • ‘This is his most purely pleasurable novel to date’ Daily Mail
    • ‘Highly impressive … for all Hensher’s accomplished ventriloquism – his ability to inhabit the voice of a Muslim child and a history teacher at the same time – his own voice is not lost … heart-breaking’ Guardian
    • ‘A deeply interesting book … The joins are seamless … It is inventive, clever and loving; a Booker candidate, I would have thought.’ Spectator
    • ‘…this delightful book shows for the first time what Hensher has largely concealed in the past: his heart’ Amanda Craig, Independent on Sunday