Brick Lane
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Brick Lane

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  16,958 ratings  ·  1,207 reviews
Wildly embraced by critics, readers, and contest judges (who put it on the short-list for the 2003 Man Booker Prize), Brick Lane is indeed a rare find: a book that lives up to its hype. Monica Ali's debut novel chronicles the life of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi girl so sickly at birth that the midwife at first declares her stillborn. At 18 her parents arrange a marriage to Chan...more
Paperback, 413 pages
Published June 2nd 2003 by Transworld (first published 2003)
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Nancy
Jul 30, 2007 Nancy rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: somebody who wants to read it
Could it take me longer to read a book? I made myself read this book everyday so I could be done with it and properly hate it.

Look at what the NY Review of Books said:

"Ali succeeds brilliantly in presenting the besieged humanity of people living hard, little-known lives on the margins of a rich, self-absorbed society."

WHO IS THIS CRAZY NUT? You need to read a book like Brick Lane to understand "besieged humanity" or what it's like to live a "hard, little-known" life?

The protaganist moves around...more
Paul
I don't know why they do it but they do it a lot - on the title page it says

Brick Lane : A Novel

And there I was expecting this oblong of printed material to be

Brick Lane : A New Kind of Vacuum Cleaner

Anyway. Other reviews would have you believe that this book is terrifically boring, beaten only for tediousness by Some Variations in the Major Groups of Plankton of the Kamchatka Peninsula Littoral by R.K. Litkynshovskaya and P.I. Podgorna-Bialaczczka. So why did I really enjoy this novel? Could...more
Shovelmonkey1
Jul 12, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with microscopes
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: i like brightly coloured book covers
This is not what I was expecting. Don’t ask me what I was expecting because it is not a definable quantity and defies explanation but when I bought this book on a whim because I liked the juxtaposition of white background and colourful printed letters, this was not it.

Ali has created a book for those who love the microscopic and want a very detailed picture of a very limited section of space and time. Hold on you might say, this book moves from 1985 and Nazneen’s arrival in England all the way u...more
Nitya Sivasubramanian
I desperately wanted to like this book. Having lived the immigrant, foreigner, displaced person lifestyle for so long, I wanted this book to capture everything that it means to have lost links with my own personal history in the effort to fit into the culture that's welcomed me into it's monied bosom.

But Nazneen is not me. She's a village girl without education and more importantly, the confidence education brings to a traveller navigating a foreign world.

I snacked with her in the dead of night...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Nazneen is the eldest of two girls, growing up in a village in Bangladesh. Her younger sister Hasina runs away to marry the young man she is in love with, and not long after that, when she is eighteen, Nazneen is married to a man twenty years older than her and sent to live with him in London.

Her husband, Chanu, is kind and very talkative. They live in a dingy flat on an estate where she makes friends with some other Bangladeshi women. Her world is narrow and small, consisting of the flat and Br...more
Paul
I did enjoy this novel; it goes at a good pace and there is a warmth about it that I appreciated. The structure of the novel is interesting. Nazneen is born in a village in Bangladesh; when old enough she is married to Chanu, a much older man who lives in England. She goes to England as a bride in her teens in 1985. The story follows her over the next years (until 2002) as she has children and mixes with the Bangladeshi community around Brick Lane. The novel also cuts to her sister Hasina back i...more
Zaki
Monica Ali's writing is like a curry with too many cardamom seeds.
Fatima
$9.99 kindle
My favorite quotes from "Brick Lane" by Monica Ali

Amma said to her daughters: "If God wanted us to ask questions, he would have made us men" (53).

"Razia waved the lollipop in front of Raqib's [the toddler's:] face. He watched it devotedly. He became its disciple. For its sake, he would sacrifice everything" (65).

Hasina on corruption in Bangladeshi education: "University is also close down. All students hold protest. They rallying for right to cheat. In my heart I support. Some who af...more
Chris
I hated this book. I found it impossible to get through and this at a time when I was utterly obsessed with novels based in and around women from India. I couldn't finish it and am continually surprised to see it so favorably reviewed and praised. Usually I'm in agreement about a great book, but this one I just don't share the feelings on.
Although i see that other Good Reads readers felt similiarly, which somehow makes me feel better.
Lena
Nazneen is a Bangladeshi village girl who has just come of age when her marriage is arranged to an older man living in the distant fantasy of London. Brick Lane chronicles the story of her marriage, her children, the public housing complex she lives in, and her struggle to make sense of her role in a world very different from the one she was raised in.

Among the more interesting parts of the book were the outlines of the cultural challenges of Bangladeshis living in England. I learned a lot about...more
Annaliese
It's a bit draconian to give a book that sells so well only one star, but that's my rating for a book I don't make it through. I read a full third of this book waiting for the protagonist (Nanzeen) to be interesting and it didn't happen. The one highlight was the small window into Bengali/Pakistani culture (before chapter 2 moves to Britain). It's a book about fate and how one acts as a follower in life. And the exceedingly slow learning process Nanzeen goes through when she starts to discover s...more
Chris
Brick Lane is an interesting book. The central character, Nazneen is totally passive, almost too passive. It should be noted, however, that Monica Ali does a good job of setting up that passivity. From the very first page of the book, the reader is shown and told that Nazneen is passive, that she was raised to leave things to fate.

The problem with the passiveness of the central character is that it can make the book insufferable, you want her to do. It is here that I have to give Ali points. Th...more
Dale
This book impressed me because of its immersiveness. Not only in terms of time and place, although that was very well handled, but mostly in terms of character. There are few modern human experiences that could be farther from my own than those of a woman born and raised in Bangladesh relocating to London after an arranged marriage to a man already living there. But I found the main character of Brick Lane, Nazneen, to be very relatable, to the point where I ended up totally immersed in her stor...more
F.R.
What I liked most about this book was the view it offered into a whole other culture. I have been to Brick Lane and Tower Hamlets many times, and have actually spent some months in Bangladesh, but I obviously don’t have any real understanding what it is to be part of the Bangladeshi community, or indeed an immigrant to these shores. The main strength of this book for me, was bringing that world alive.

Spanning the eighties to the start of the 21st century (building up, inevitably, to 9/11) this c...more
Sara
Jun 13, 2008 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Suckers for South Asian fiction in English
Our humble heroine, Nazneen, moves from her childhood rural village in Bangladesh to London for an arranged marriage and learns to love Western-style freedom among the misfits in her predominantly south-Asian housing estate. Or something like that. What makes the book a comfortable companion in the hour before bed is not so much our heroine's emergence into self-actualization (which begins rather late in the book, and feels like it was tacked on so that the author could sell the story to Hollywo...more
Suhaila
As young Obi Wan asked "more pathetic lifeforms?". Zadie Smith in "White Teeth" writes about the immigrant experience with more absurdity, and with a whole lot more life than this author. Brick Lane is a domestic drama from an immigrant's experience. The letters from the protagonist's wayward long-suffering sister were probably meant to act as a counterpoint to our heroines struggle against the oppressive shackles of her life. Instead I found the heroine a letdown and her sister a fool. Without...more
Emily
This was less satisfying than I expected, and several days after finishing it, I still can't quite believe that it made the Booker short-list. The novel concerns a young Bangladeshi woman called Nazneen, who moves to a council flat in London in the mid-1980s after an arranged marriage to an older man named Chanu, who I think is meant to be sympathetic in a nebbishy sort of way, but who becomes loathsome to the reader by the time Ali gets to her second description of Nazneen cutting his corns. (A...more
Andrew
Not sure what to write about this. I enjoyed the story and it was well-written, but to me nothing special. Hated the ending – don’t worry, I won’t give it away, but the last line just sounded so corny I was quite shocked. The book as a whole is not simplistic, but the ending made it seem that way.

I think maybe this is one of those cases where the hype was so massive that the reality is bound to disappoint. It was an interesting depiction of a woman who moves to England in an arranged marriage an...more
Elaine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andy
I've never felt much compulsion to read Brick Lane but found it on a recent second-hand shop search and picked it up cheap. Widely praised on publication I can understand why but it didn't do much for me. This may be as I read it while flying from Costa Rica to New Zealand (finishing it in LAX) so brain wasn't entirely working at full power. I found it difficult to keep my concentration on the story.

Immigration and alienation and a clash of cultures pervade as a young bride moves to England from...more
Sheila
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 o...more
Mac ECSCT Society
Brick Lane by Monica Ali. First studied in Modern British Literature 2I06, taught by Dr. S Brophy

There is a difference between loving a book because you relate to it in a universal manner, and loving it because it speaks to you on a personal level. The classes we spent on Brick Lane were dizzying, exciting, and incredibly nerve-wracking. South Asian culture, and the South Asian diaspora are not topics readily explored within the university, and to have that diversity addressed hands-on was refre...more
Jessica
Brick Lane is the story of a uneducated woman from a small village in Bangladesh who moves to Brick Lane in London with her new husband after an arranged marriage. Like many other immigrant novels, this book touches on themes of culture clash and the struggle to adapt to the new country. The main character in "Brick Lane" initially feels that it is her fate to be the dutiful wife, living in her husband's shadow. She slowly begins to realize that she can be her own person.

The descriptions of the...more
Dax
I thought this book was great. My favorite character was Chanu, I thought he was the perfect depiction of the "big man" immigrant who has the air of superiority over his own countrymen because he's an "educated man" in a "modern society", but ultimately has no accomplishments to support his self-image, just a maze of unfinished (never really started) projects and ideas. Nazneen, the main character, was sent off from Bangladesh to London in an arranged marriage with Chanu, and watching her slowly...more
Yasmin Nessa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennie - Daystarz Books
I read this as a group read and really liked it. I liked the characters. I even began to feel sorry for Chanu - "an educated man" yet so inept, lord of ideas that never come to fruition. It took me twice as long as usual to read a book of this size because of the detail but I didn't mind this as the depth of detail is one of the things I loved most about this book. I will be looking for more of this author.
Suzanne Demitrio
Brick Lane begins well. The characters are wittily drawn -- the protagonist's husband, Chanu, wouldn't be out of place in Dickens (and I'm afraid he'd take that as a compliment, poor fool). The structure is promising - the protagonist in London and her sister back home in Bangladesh tell their stories in counterpoint. We see how poverty and culture constrain their choices. Their lives unfold in a series of carefully explored scenes, from which we can infer the years between. *SPOILER ALERT* But...more
Alesa
There's a good reason that Brick Lane was short-listed for the Man Booker award, and was nominated for a whole slew of other prizes too. It is just brilliant. That doesn't mean that it is necessarily fun to read. (A 16 year old Bangladeshi girl is married off to a 40 year old guy in London, and goes there to start a new life in almost poverty. No, not exactly a "fun" topic…) However, the descriptions are brilliant, and the story itself is mesmerizing. The subplots are rich and believable. You re...more
Jumana
For me, the best part of the book was in the depiction of the friendship between the protagonist's husband (Chanu) and a certain Dr. Azad. Neither has gotten what he wanted, nor expected, out of life.

In the end, Dr. Azad says,

"What I did not know - I was a young man- is that there are two kinds of love. The kind that starts off big and slowly wears away...and the kind that you don't notice at first, but which adds a little bit to itself every day,like an oyster makes a pearl, grain by grain, a...more
Nick
In this, her first novel, Monica Ali tempted fate, setting up choice after choice for the heroine that could have drive home a point. A less careful and ambitious writer would have settled for one or more of them. Nazneen is plucked from her Bangladeshi village to marry a man who lives in the Bangladeshi expat community of London. Her sister runs away for love but is disillusioned over and over again. Nazneen's pompous but not unsympathetic husband mismanages his career, takes out usurious loans...more
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Monica Ali is a British writer of Bangladeshi origin. She is the author of Brick Lane, her debut novel, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2003. Ali was voted Granta's Best of Young British Novelists on the basis of the unpublished manuscript.

She lives in South London with her husband, Simon Torrance, a management consultant. They have two children, Felix (born 1999) and...more
More about Monica Ali...
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“Sometimes I look back and I am shocked. Everyday of my life I have prepared for success, worked for it, waited for it, and you don't notice how the days pass until nearly a lifetime is finished. Then it hits you--the thing you have been waiting for has already gone by. And it was going in the other direction. It's like I've been waiting on the wrong side of the road for a bus that was already full." p. 265” 34 likes
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