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Brick Lane

Ali, Monica

23,599 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 038560484X / ISBN 13: 9780385604840
Published by Doubleday, London, 2003
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
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Monroe Street Books
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About this Item

413 pages. Hardcover. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. Clean,tight copy. Record # 456142. Bookseller Inventory # 456142

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Brick Lane

Publisher: Doubleday, London

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Nazneen's inauspicious entry to the world, an apparent stillbirth on the hard mud floor of a Bangladeshi village hut, imbues in her a sense of fatalism that she carries across continents when she is married off to Chanu. Her life in London's Tower Hamlets is, on the surface, calm. For years, keeping house and rearing children, she does what is expected of her. Yet Nazneen walks a tightrope stretched between her daughters' embarrassment and her husband's resentments. Chanu calls his elder daughter the little memsahib. 'I didn't ask to be born here,' says Shahana, with regular finality. Into that fragile peace walks Karim. He sets questions before her, of longing and belonging; he sparks in her a turmoil that reflects the community's own; he opens her eyes and directs her gaze - but what she sees, in the end, comes as a surprise to them both. While Nazneen journeys along her path of self-realization, a way haunted by her mother's ghost, her sister Hasina, back in Bangladesh, 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.

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

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