Monica Ali Brick Lane

ISBN 13: 9781565118287

Brick Lane

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9781565118287: Brick Lane

Set in the gritty Tower Hamlets area of East London, Brick Laneis the story of Nazneen, an Asian immigrant girl and how she deals with issues of love, cultural differences and the human spirit. Nazneen is forced into an arranged marriage with a much older man whose expectations of life are miserably low. When they flee the oppression of their Bangladeshi village for a high-rise block in the East End, she finds herself cloistered and dependent on her husband. It soon becomes apparent that of the two, she is the real survivor and more able to deal with the ways of the world and the vagaries of human behavior. Through her friendship with another Asian girl, she begins to understand the unsettling ways of her new homeland.

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Review:

Wildly embraced by critics, readers, and contest judges (who put it on the short-list for the 2003 Man Booker Prize), Brick Lane is indeed a rare find: a book that lives up to its hype. Monica Ali's debut novel chronicles the life of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi girl so sickly at birth that the midwife at first declares her stillborn. At 18 her parents arrange a marriage to Chanu, a Bengali immigrant living in England. Although Chanu--who's twice Nazneen's age--turns out to be a foolish blowhard who "had a face like a frog," Nazneen accepts her fate, which seems to be the main life lesson taught by the women in her family. "If God wanted us to ask questions," her mother tells her, "he would have made us men." Over the next decade-and-a-half Nazneen grows into a strong, confident woman who doesn't defy fate so much as bend it to her will. The great delight to be had in Brick Lane lies with Ali's characters, from Chanu the kindly fool to Mrs. Islam the elderly loan shark to Karim the political rabblerouser, all living in a hothouse of Bengali immigrants. Brick Lane combines the wide scope of a social novel about the struggles of Islamic immigrants in pre- and post-9/11 England with the intimate story of Nazneen, one of the more memorable heroines to come along in a long time. If Dickens or Trollope were loosed upon contemporary London, this is exactly the sort of novel they would cook up. --Claire Dederer

About the Author:

ELIZABETH SASTRE has appeared in regional theater. She has a recurring role on As the World Turns and guest starred on Law & Order.

MONICA ALI was born in Dhaka in Bangladesh. Her family moved to England in 1971 when she was 3 years old. She was educated at Oxford and lives in London.

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Ali, Monica
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