Brick Lane: A Novel

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Simon and Schuster, Mar 11, 2008 - Fiction - 428 pages
1375 Reviews
Monica Ali's gorgeous first novel is the deeply moving story of one woman, Nazneen, born in a Bangladeshi village and transported to London at age eighteen to enter into an arranged marriage. Already hailed by the London Observer as "one of the most significant British novelists of her generation," Ali has written a stunningly accomplished debut about one outsider's quest to find her voice.

What could not be changed must be borne. And since nothing could be changed, everything had to be borne. This principle ruled her life. It was mantra, fettle, and challenge.

Nazneen's inauspicious entry into the world, an apparent stillbirth on the hard mud floor of a village hut, imbues in her a sense of fatalism that she carries across continents when she is married off to Chanu, a man old enough to be her father. Nazneen moves to London and, for years, keeps house, cares for her husband, and bears children, just as a girl from the village is supposed to do. But gradually she is transformed by her experience, and begins to question whether fate controls her or whether she has a hand in her own destiny.

Motherhood is a catalyst -- Nazneen's daughters chafe against their father's traditions and pride -- and to her own amazement, Nazneen falls in love with a young man in the community. She discovers both the complexity that comes with free choice and the depth of her attachment to her husband, her daughters, and her new world.

While Nazneen journeys along her path of self-realization, her sister, Hasina, rushes headlong at her life, first making a "love marriage," then fleeing her violent husband. Woven through the novel, Hasina's letters from Dhaka recount a world of overwhelming adversity. Shaped, yet not bound, by their landscapes and memories, both sisters struggle to dream -- and live -- beyond the rules prescribed for them.

Vivid, profoundly humane, and beautifully rendered, Brick Lane captures a world at once unimaginable and achingly familiar. And it establishes Monica Ali as a thrilling new voice in fiction. As Kirkus Reviews said, "She is one of those dangerous writers who see everything."


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Review: Brick Lane

User Review  - Goodreads

I read to page 182 of this 415 page book before putting it aside. Although there are interesting insights into the life of a wife from Bangladesh who emigrated to London, it was just too slow moving to complete. Read full review

Review: Brick Lane

User Review  - Goodreads

Loved this book, though I understand it's not for everyone as it is full of rich feeling and observations that tend to pull you in and slow you down to the pace of the lives lived in the novel. Another feast of cultural discoveries. An unusual view of England. Most enjoyable. Read full review

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Selected pages


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 13
Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18
Section 19
Section 20

Section 9
Section 10
Section 11
Section 12
Section 21
Section 22
Section 23

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About the author (2008)

MONICA ALI  has been named by Granta as one of the twenty best young British novelists. She is the author of In the Kitchen, Alentejo Blue, and Brick Lane, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

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