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Posted August 22, 2009
A complex and bewitching novel written in elegant, flawless prose
In "Brick Lane", Monica Ali showed great promise of a talented writer with formidable narrative skill. The novel was short-listed for the Booker prize. In her new novel "In the Kitchen", her second novel and third book ("Alentejo Blue", a collection of stories, was her second book), Monica Ali has proven that she is quite capable of writing a follow up worthy of praise.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
The novel starts rather slowly, but the pace gains speed and the narration gains momentum, as the novel progresses. The second half of the novel is extraordinary, with many bewitching passages, and here the reader gets glimpses of an astonishing and magical writer.
This book could be considered as three stories weaved into a lively novel, or three strands of a story braided as if to create a lovely plait. Gabriel Lightfoot, the protagonist, is executive chef at London's Imperial Hotel. The first story is Gabriel's relationship with his long time girlfriend, Charlie, an attractive, red-haired singer at a club. The second story is Gabriel's affair and fascination with a beautiful and rather mysterious woman from Belarus, an escaped sex slave named Lena. The third story is Gabriel's relationship with his father, who has been diagnosed with cancer. And all three stories revolve around the central incident of the novel: a porter - an illegal immigrant from Ukraine, is found murdered in the basement of the Imperial Hotel.
Through realistic descriptions of a busy kitchen of a fancy restaurant, and uncontrived, smooth flowing dialogues, vivid descriptions, gripping passages, and the magic of her pen, Monica Ali has created an absorbing and entertaining novel. And I think "In the Kitchen" will enhance her reputation as one of the important English writers, and a master of English prose.
Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ