Brick Lane: A Novel

Brick Lane: A Novel

Book - 2003
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Baker & Taylor
Carrying into her adult years a sense of fatalism instilled during her hardscrabble birth, Nazneen finds herself married off to a man twice her age and moved to London, where she begins to wonder if she has a say in her own destiny. A first novel. 75,000 first printing.

Blackwell North Amer
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.

Baker
& Taylor

Carrying into her adult years a sense of fatalism instilled during her hardscrabble birth, Nazneen finds herself married off to a man twice her age and moved to London, where she wonders if she has a say in her own destiny.

Simon and Schuster
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."



Publisher: New York : Scribner, c2003
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780743243308
0743243307
Characteristics: p :369 ; cm

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WVMLStaffPicks Jan 12, 2015

Nazneen is a young unspoiled Bangladeshi girl who enters into an arranged marriage with a much older Bangladeshi who lives in London. She finds herself cloistered in a small flat in a highrise block in the East End of London. She speaks no English and is dependent on other immigrant women and her two daughters. But Nazneen is a survivor and we rejoice with her in her eventual triumph over her dependency.

w
writermala
Jul 28, 2013

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.

WVMLBookClubTitles Jun 17, 2013

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.

j
joliebergman
Apr 17, 2013

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

s
snkattk
Jul 30, 2012

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.

c
coastalkate
Jun 26, 2012

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.

h
Huntsville1
Oct 21, 2009

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

a
AnamCara
Oct 27, 2007

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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