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Brick Lane by Monica Ali
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Brick Lane (2003)

by Monica Ali

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,8251211,559 (3.44)257
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.… (more)
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    Small Island by Andrea Levy (whymaggiemay)
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    The Road Home by Rose Tremain (bergs47)
    bergs47: Immigration and assimilation in England, from the view of the immigrant although one is from Eastern Europe and the other from Asia
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    The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton by Sathnam Sanghera (KayCliff)
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» See also 257 mentions

English (116)  French (3)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (121)
Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
Nazneen is uprooted from Bangladesh to London, surrendering to that fate. The novel’s opening scenes entrench this idea of her with little sense of agency: her unexpected survival as a newborn is credited, in her family’s lore, to fate. And as she progresses through the immigrant experience in dowdy Britain, her own motivations are not well filled out. The novel’s other characters are more clear. But not very likeable; Ali’s wry, usually disapproving, detachment is the undertone. The parallel story of the sister back in Bangladesh has more heart, but doesn’t fully fit with the wider novel, and is a little hard to follow. That said, the book’s scenes and experiences are recognisable, so it doubtless does convey contemporary truths, and there are some great descriptions. Best of all, the East End butchers shop (page 419 of the paperback), with random cuts of meat in cluttered array, and the servers’ coats "decently" smeared with blood. ( )
  eglinton | May 28, 2019 |
This novel covers about fifteen years in the life of a contemporary Bangladeshi woman who marries young and moves to London. Her story is engaging despite the sadness of her isolation and the heartbreaking letters from her sister who is still in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, about 2/3 through, the story bogs down, then speeds up to finish. ( May 27, 2006) ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
Very well written and enjoyable novel; as uneducated Bangladeshi Nazneen arrives in London for an arranged marriage with an older man, the story meanders slowly forward, and with it, Nazneen's sense of self and ownership of her new life. From the early days, with nervous walks about the inner city estate, where exchanging a smile with a neighbour is an achievement, through to motherhood, starting work, making her own friends...
Ali does a brilliant job at portraying just why the flat feels like a temporary stop-off and not a home; from the overcrammed furniture to the impossible..and yet not bad...husband Chanu. Intelligent yet forever a failure, his grandiose plans ever turning to dust, always requiring his wife to trim his nasal hair and pare his corns...
Nazneen observes the Bangladeshi community about her, the squabbles and fractures, the increasing tensions with local right wing gangs, the westernization of the young people as they turn to drugs and music. And she begins to fall in love with the dashing (if limited) young man who delivers the piece work to her flat...
Meanwhile she continues to correspond with her sister back in Dhaka, where life is still more precarious, but where choices must still be made.
Keeps you reading up till the end, unsure of what is going to happen. Perhaps a rather too-perfect ending, but very good indeed (went straight off to check what other novels Ms Ali has written.) ( )
  starbox | May 3, 2019 |
My second serious attempt at reading this book after abandoning it many years ago and a few half-hearted attempts along the way. I find myself enjoying it more the second time. To me, the book wasn't so much about the lives of immigrants in Britain, but more of how Nazleen decided not to leave things to fate but that she could have a say too. Nazleen decided to break off with Karim, not go back to Pakistan with Chanu and stand up to Mrs. Islam. When Nazleen stood up to Mrs. Islam and refused to pay more than they should, that was one of the most delightful scenes in the book. ( )
  siok | Dec 22, 2018 |
This was the first book I’d read in a while that made me feel motivated to read, and I love Ali’s way with words. It reminds me a little of another book I read a few years ago called Brixton Beach by Roma Tearne, about a young girl whose life is picked up from Sri Lanka and dropped into 80’s London. I really love reading books set in other cultures, it’s a great way to learn more about countries I may never be lucky enough to visit. And it gives me an insight what it is like to be a woman in such cultures, and what the immigrant experience is like. ( )
  SadieBabie | Jun 23, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Monica Aliprimary authorall editionscalculated
Watanabe, KyokoDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
'Sternly, remorselessly, fate guides each of us; only at the beginning, when we're absorbed in details, in all sorts of nonsense, in ourselves, are we unaware of its harsh hand.' - Ivan Turgenev
'A man's character is his fate.' - Heraclitus
Dedication
For Abba, with love
First words
An hour and forty-five minutes before Nazneen's life began - began as it would proceed for quite some time, that is to say uncertainly - her mother Rupban felt an iron fist squeeze her belly.
Quotations
Chanu stopped and looked in a shop window.'Seventy five pounds for that little bag. You couldn't fit even one book into it.'
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HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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HighBridge

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

» Publisher information page

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