Brick Lane

Brick Lane

by Monica Ali
3.4 56

Hardcover(Large Print)

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Brick Lane by Monica Ali

“A book you won’t be able to put down. A Bangladeshi immigrant in London is torn between the kind, tedious older husband with whom she has an arranged marriage (and children) and the fiery political activist she lusts after. A novel that’s multi-continental, richly detailed and elegantly crafted.” —Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Sisterland

After an arranged marriage to Chanu, a man twenty years older, Nazneen is taken to London, leaving her home and heart in the Bangladeshi village where she was born. Her new world is full of mysteries. How can she cross the road without being hit by a car (an operation akin to dodging raindrops in the monsoon)? What is the secret of her bullying neighbor Mrs. Islam? What is a Hell's Angel? And how must she comfort the naïve and disillusioned Chanu?

As a good Muslim girl, Nazneen struggles to not question why things happen. She submits, as she must, to Fate and devotes herself to her husband and daughters. Yet to her amazement, she begins an affair with a handsome young radical, and her erotic awakening throws her old certainties into chaos.

Monica Ali’s splendid novel is about journeys both external and internal, where the marvelous and the terrifying spiral together.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786260188
Publisher: Gale Group
Publication date: 12/12/2003
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 676
Product dimensions: 5.46(w) x 8.84(h) x 1.38(d)

About the Author

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.


London, England

Date of Birth:

October 20, 1967

Place of Birth:

Dhaka, Bangladesh


B.A. with Honors, Oxford, 1989

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Brick Lane 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Melissa_W More than 1 year ago
For those of us who grew up as part of a Western society and have never known anything else, Brick Lane tells the story of a woman who must reconcile living in Western society with her own cultural beliefs. Nazneen is not representative of a whole country, as some have protested, but she is representative of women who come from an isolated area and who learn to live in a culture that is very different from the one in which they grew up. Brick Lane is a story not just of Nazneen, who comes to London from Bangladesh with her husband, but also that of her sister Hasina, who remains in Bangladesh. The contrast between the women's lives highlights the role of Fate in Nazneen's decision-making process; Hasina is defiant, choosing her own path through life, while Nazneen accepts changes in her life as part of the path chosen for her. As the novel progresses, Nazneen comes to challenge this belief and it is Nazneen's growth as a woman, wife, and mother that drives this novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this entire book minus the last 20 pages approximately a year ago. It was probably the most dreadful thing to have lost the book completely when I was so engrossed in the plot... But after reading some of the other reviews, I felt the need to share my emotion and sentiments that I felt so strongly while reading this book that I still remember it a year later. The transformation that occurs in this book towards the ending was beautiful. The formation of the Bengal Tigers, the need for the community to come together, the debates and the social tension was so real. The conflict between identifying with your race and your religion and the country you were born in is true. This is the first book I have ever read that accurately portrays some of the many emotions that I felt as a South Asian Muslim Woman after Sept. 11th. And as a side note- a letter written in broken English from a woman who may not speak English and probably has little education does not detract from a plot line. It is more real than a letter written with perfect grammar.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm only halfway through this book but I am completely engrossed and unlikely to be let down because ... Monica Ali is a wonderful writer. So far what I've read about Nazhneen and her sister, husband, children, neighbours, relatives, and prospective lover, makes me think that the news tells us what happens in the world, history tells us how events happened, but novels like Brick Lane can show us WHY human beings do what they do within the constraints of their circumstance, and this is the most illuminating for understanding and appreciating others.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Filled with humor and pathos, lifts the veils we all hide behind. An unspoilt girl from the village, new bride Nazneen is brought to England to live in London’s tower blocks. She stares out now at a very different village, through windows soiled by grime. Her husband finds her “satisfactory” and no one asks what she thinks. Meanwhile Nazneen's sister has married for love back in India, and no one seems to care what she thinks or experiences either. Clipping nostril hair and corns for her spouse, cooking meals, learning to live with neighbors who each in their own very different way accommodate to a new world, Nazneen dreams of helping her sister and of staying true to herself. Meanwhile her husband dreams of riches and returning home in state, while he lives in unfulfilled failure. Under the skin, whether it be burned away by acid and fire or rendered transparent through the eyes of an author who sees what lies beneath, we’re all of us the same. Debates on Brick Lane as America’s towers fall aren’t so different from elsewhere in London, even if the debaters are mostly Muslim. Brick Lane’s defeats as drug money flows, Brick Lane’s lonely women at their sewing machines, and Brick Lane’s disaffected youth all come to life… The tattoo woman hides her skin under pictures till the weight is too great, and Nazneen hides her soul under images of Fate. When Nazneen finally wakes to a lover’s touch, will she be anything more than an unspoilt village girl after all these years? Filled with bitingly honest humor and searing pathos, Monica Ali’s Brick Lane describes not only the immigrant experience, but also the belated coming of age of individuals and society, the lies we hide behind like colored tattoos, and the many layers that make up truth. A long, powerful, enthralling novel with a pleasing strength in its ending, this is a tale of culture with as message of self-determination and a musical score that will keep you longing for more. Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from a friend during my visit to England.
CathyB More than 1 year ago
This was the first book that I read by Ms. Ali and she instantly became one of my favorite authors. I love to read and learn about different cultures and countries. Ms. Ali did not let me down. From her descriptive prose, I have been able to create an image of Bangladesh (and later London) - one that feels very real, including the sights, smells, dusty roads, etc.. As the characters developed, we were given glimpses into Bangladeshi and Muslim beliefs along with the Bengali people. It presented a nice introduction for the sheltered American. The story was simple: girl enters into arranged marriage, leaves her family behind, becomes the submissive partner, realizes her own self worth and finally stands on her own. Unlike some readers, I found the book to be a quick and enjoyable read. I recommend to those interested in immigrant life and those wishing to expose themselves to different cultures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the story had potential it lost my interest midway through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has a great story line. I enjoyed the way the characters developed and matured. I thought the author did an excellent job of sharing the lives of Bengali people, Muslims, and the immigrant experience. I disagree with the criticism that she made Bengali people 'look stupid', and I feel this is an extremely harsh and overly sensitive criticism. I was also not bothered by the fact that she chose to not have the letters written in standardized English. In fact, when you think about it, it makes sense. The sister clearly did not have a significant amount of formal education. I really enjoyed the plot, and I can understand why this book won a lot of awards. My criticism is that the book is too long. The author could have cut out a lot of unneccesary details. After awhile, I actually found myself skipping pages and speed reading. This book could have been cut by at least a quarter. The end of the book makes up for this flaw. I was very pleased with the character's growth and I feel she is an inspiration to all women. A part of womanhood is learning to find your voice, self realization, and learning to stand on your own. For this reason alone, I recommend this book so you can witness her journey. Good book, but it would have been great if the author had 'trimmed the fat'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is really well written, however that doesn't account for the storyline. This book is HIGHLY OVERRATED! I've been reading for sometime that a lot of Bangadeshi people were unhappy with the book because it made them out to be ignorant amongst other things. After reading the book I can see exactly where they are coming from. Honestly, I find the letters between the main character and her sister Hasina to be rather pointless to the development of the story. And a lot of the story could have been shortened by at least 100 pages. There is a lot of useless information in the book, that could have been thrown towards other character developments and storylines. The gist of the story and what it's really all about, whirls at you rather quickly in the last 50 pages if so much. That's almost 350 pages that were rather pointless and could have been snarked into 150-200 at the most. And YES, it does make the Bengali people out to be idiotic, snivilling, ignorant fools. But that's the same with all get them everywhere....just this book seems to emulate it for some reason. I wonder why, a person who is Bengali as Monica Ali is, would write a book, that seemingly denounces her heritage, culture and religion?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Considering the acclaim this book received, I expected alot from it. The story was interesting but lacked drive and I feel like certain characters behaved unlike themselves. There was no pull between Nazneed and Karim, no drive to pull them into an affair. Could've been a lot better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brick Lane is an amazing story of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi female immigrant who moved to a Bangladesh community in London as a young woman and wife of an old man. Through her, the author successfully captured the Bengali traditions and the clash their contradictions upon the Islamic religion. The misconceptions Bengalis and many other Islamic people have vis-à-vis their religion and culture incompatibilities is vividly portrayed in this book. Hindu practices, traditions and culture are intertwined with Islam to give it a different blend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i first started this book i thought i was about to read a true experience of a conservative immigrant family and the social,cultural and financial troubles they face in a foreign country.well that was properly portrayed by some characters in the book like chanu who was not appreciated by his family and society being framed as the stereotypical and simple bengali man . i also liked karim and shahana's search for their true identity shahana rejecting it dreading to go back to her home country and karim embracing it as evident by forming 'The bengal tigers' and an unexplained relationship with an ordinary older nazneen.But the book became boring in the middle and the idea of nazneen deciding her fate and choosing her path for the first time was superfical and sad.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was on page 220 and nothing of consequence had happened in this book. Repetive, the characters were not interesting or revealing. The story was predictable and I was hoping the whole time that something would surprise me. The writing is unspiring and standard, the story plods along. She describes the plot clearly the first 75 pages and then the story continues to unfold into boring details. I only finished it because I had book club.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is just inconceivable to me that the characters in Brick Lane are not living, breathing human beings out there, somewhere in the world. I can conjure up very vivid mental images of these charcters and by the end of the novel felt as though I knew them personally. What an interesting and elegantly simple story with colorful and unique characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brick Lane is a timely and captivating book. It's about two Muslim sisters. Nazneen, the main character, goes to London for a traditional, arranged marriage. Her sister, Hasina, stays in Bangladesh. Ali uses the sisters' lives to compare and contrast the different ways Muslim women are forced to live: The constraints are like an invisible burkah. Ali writes about 9/11 and its effect on Muslims. This broadens the reader and calls for compassion. Fiction can tell truth more than non-fiction, because it can get under your armor and make you feel empathy for people who live differently. During this post 9/11 period, when people are gripped by fear and judgment, war and terrorism, this is very important gift to embrace.
ummsalah More than 1 year ago
This is a good book. At first I found it as a slower starter, but once into the story it did hold my interest. I would recommend this book to anyone who can take a slow starter. It is really good.
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