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Brick Lane

A Novel

Ali, Monica

(eBook - 2003)
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Brick Lane
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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." The Observer (London) Warm, shrewd, startling and hugely readable: the sort of book you race through greedily, dreading the last page. Amy Hempel author of Tumble Home and Reasons to Live Monica Ali's power as a storyteller, her wisdom and compassionate stance, make this remarkable novel a total-immersion experience. I was quickly taken over by the community, culture, and vision she presents so forcefully. Evening Standard (London) The joy of this book is its marriage of a wonderful writer with a fresh, rich and hidden world...written with love and compassion for every struggling character in its pages." The Sunday Times (London) A humanely forgiving story about love....Brick Lane may be Ali's first novel, but it is written with a wisdom and skill that few authors attain in a lifetime.
ISBN: 0743249712
9780743249713

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Jul 28, 2013
  • writermala rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This is the first book I have read about the Bangladeshi community in London and I loved it. Nazneen may be a woman from a village in Bangladesh married to an older educated man, a city man who lives in London, but she adjusts well. The book spins a tale around Nazneen, her family both in London and in Dhaka and how she deals with situations and people in London.
Not only is the tale fascinating and informative, it is philosophical too. For example when Nazneen fantasizes about wearing Western Clothes and feels that "for a glorious moment it was clothes, not fate, made her life."
Chanu on the other hand is always posing Philosophical questions like, "Is this true? It's a question I like very much. A student of philosophy must inquire all the time."
Even the casual conversations between the women can sometimes be very philosophical like when Hanufa and Razia are shooting the breeze about their children.
"He does not want to live the life I made for him."
"But that is our problem - making lives for our children. They want to make them for themselves.
"Yes. They will do that. Even if it kills them."
All in all a very well-written book. It is not surprising that it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Jun 17, 2013
  • WVMLBookClubTitles rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Up and coming British author Ali captures how a Muslim housewife might think and act and what her aspirations might be in this portrayal of a Bangladeshi woman who is transported to London at age eighteen to enter into an arranged marriage to a man old enough to be her father. Her daughters are the catalyst for her gradual transformation, love affair, and questioning of whether fate controls her or whether she has a hand in her own destiny.

Apr 17, 2013
  • joliebergman rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I liked this book - it was a great summer read. Very interesting perspective and it opened my eyes to the London Muslim community.

Jul 30, 2012
  • snkattk rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Engaging book of Bangladeshi immigrants straddling two cultures and the choices they are forced to make. Wonderful characters with unique perspecitves on their situations. Nazneen, mother, daughter, sister trapped between worlds of rigid culture and opportunity. Chanu gained my sympathy trying to uphold old country values in a London landscape with ever changing rules and opportunites. And beautiful Hasina seeing God and the best of humanity in the worst the world has to offer. So glad I found this book.

Jun 26, 2012
  • coastalkate rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Monica Ali deftly portrays the culture shock of immigrants as well as many of the issues facing immigrant families and their children born in the new countries. Really enjoyed this book, very well written and different to many other books.

Oct 24, 2009
  • Huntsville1 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Worth reading in order to acquire more information about the Immigrant Experience from this this Bangladeshi woman's experience.

Oct 27, 2007
  • AnamCara rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed this book very much and it was difficult to read at times because of the events in the woman's life. It covered continents with India and England as well as social mores and the social differences in the two countries.

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