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by Taslima Nasrin
Translated by Honor Moore
Reviewed by Caitlin Fehir

Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold. But is it revenge if the act stays forever secret? Can the avenger ever find satisfaction knowing she must spend the rest of her life married to her wrongdoer? For Jhumur, the highly educated, once independent woman of Taslima Nasrin's Revenge, silent vengeance is the only option.

Set in Bangladesh, Revenge is the story of Jhumur and her husband Haroon, a couple whose courtship seems to stray from the cultural norm. Haroon delights in his brilliant, modern girlfriend, and Jhumur is certain her married life will continue in the same pattern. However, the role of a wife is very different from the role of a female physics student, and soon Jhumur's days are filled with cooking, cleaning, and constantly searching for the approval of her in-laws. As the daughter-in-law, it is Jhumur's job to serve.

The day Jhumur discovers she is pregnant is the catalyst to her silent revenge. Haroon assumes the worst—that this child is not his, for how can Jhumur have become pregnant so soon? A forced visit to the doctor rids Haroon of his worries and the couple of their baby, and a furious Jhumur vows to become the cheating wife she was accused of being.

Enter Afzal, the downstairs neighbour who is conveniently gorgeous and conveniently single. Jhumur plots, flirts, and exacts her revenge.

Nasrin skilfully portrays the suffocation of the life of Bengali women. Jhumur is confined to the house, rarely allowed to visit her own family. Trips down the stairs to Afzal's take planning and a lot of luck, for women in her position do nothing alone. Divorce is scandalous, and so Jhumur's revenge does not let her leave Haroon, but helps her to gain a shred of independence in her very dependent life. At first, Nasrin's restraint with her character was frustrating—why couldn't Jhumur have done something more drastic, more permanent, than merely having a secret affair? Reading Revenge, seeing Jhumur continue to live in silence, is difficult to do. But for many women around the world, lasting marriage is a reality, and learning to live within society's constraints is how life becomes more than bearable. For Jhumur, revenge is not a public act, but instead a personal promise to keep her independent spirit alive.