Edmund Gordon

What Was Left Behind

Scenes from Early Life

By

Fourth Estate 312pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

This is a strange book, written with considerable charm and plenty of gorgeous detail, but difficult in many ways to get a handle on. The life referred to in the title is not Philip Hensher’s own, but that of his husband, Zaved Mahmood, who was born in Dacca in 1970, when the city was still a regional capital in Pakistan. A few months after his birth, however, the country was torn apart by a brutal civil war, in the course of which up to three million people were killed. Eastern Pakistan seceded from the rest of the country, and emerged as Bangladesh.

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