A stunning literary novel of thrilling suspense by writer and filmmaker Gazi, and translated by Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Nadiya.
by Leesa Gazi and translated by Shabnam Nadiya
Amazon Crossing, December 2023
(via David Black Literary Agency)
For sisters Lovely and Beauty, home is a prison under the toxic watch of their controlling, abusive mother, Farida Khanam. The girls are each locked in their own rooms, their own gilded cages, and have never been allowed to leave the house by themselves. GOOD GIRLS opens and it’s Lovely’s 40th birthday, the day Farida will give Lovely the freedom to go to the Gausia Market alone. “Today was the day for everyone to be what they weren’t, or perhaps be what they were.” With a tragic foreboding, we know today is the day that will change everything.
Taking place over the span of a single day, GOOD GIRLS unfolds in page-turning slow-motion, as Lovely interacts with the outside world, as the secrets of their lives in captivity emerge, and as she battles the man inside her head. With masterful precision and lyrical prose, Gazi and Nadiya grab us from the opening pages with a sinister premise: what does a 40-year-old woman who has never been granted freedom for a few hours do? Farida’s tautly constructed world begins to unravel as temptations, demons and the past come to haunt each of them. Good Girls explores the emotional violence of the matriarchy as well as the patriarchy’s suffocating effort to keep women within four walls. Lovely and Beauty show us the cost of freedom.
GOOD GIRLS was originally published in Bengali in 2010 by Sucheepatra Publishers, under the title Hellfire. It was published in English in India by Eka/Westland Books (Sept 2020) and was shortlisted for the Kâpylä Translation Prize. Listed by Words Without Borders as One of the Best Translated Books of 2020.
Leesa Gazi is a Bangladeshi British author, theater practitioner, award-winning filmmaker, and joint artistic director of the London-based arts organization Komola Collective. She has dedicated her career to presenting stories from women’s perspectives. Multiple plays written and translated by Gazi toured nationally and internationally. She was the cowriter and performer of the play Birangona: Women of War, nominated for the Offies (UK), which she later developed into the documentary feature Rising Silence, which sheds light on the lives of sexual violence survivors in the aftermath of the Bangladesh Liberation War.