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Brick Lane

3.37  ·  Rating Details ·  22,071 Ratings  ·  1,478 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, 416 pages
Published June 2003 by Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group (first published 2003)
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Jul 30, 2007 Nancy rated it did not like it  ·  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
Nitya Sivasubramanian
Aug 08, 2007 Nitya Sivasubramanian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1star
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
Jan 03, 2008 Suhaila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Bryant
Feb 06, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, india
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
Jan 03, 2008 Chris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
$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
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Mar 22, 2008 Shannon (Giraffe Days) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2008
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
Jun 09, 2008 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 16, 2008 Annaliese rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 13, 2008 Sara rated it liked it  ·  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
Jul 26, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2009 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 20, 2009 F.R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 06, 2015 Zaki rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Monica Ali's prose is the literary equivalent of a curry with too many cardamom seeds.
Nov 26, 2010 Andy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prize-winners, 2010
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
Dec 18, 2011 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 12, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it
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
Nov 03, 2012 Lena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Oct 17, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: multiculture
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
Dec 31, 2013 Alesa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Yasmin Nessa
Jul 30, 2015 Yasmin Nessa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 11, 2014 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-told story about Bangladeshi immigrants to England, told from the point of view of a woman, Nazneen, who entered into an arranged marriage with an older man who had been in London for a while. Three lines in the book captures the sense of belonging or lack of belonging, that is the main takeaway: And most of all she thought of what he (Karim, a politically active young man, son of Bangladeshi immigrants) had that she and Hasina (her sister back in Bangladesh) and Chanu (Nazneen's ...more
Zoe Carney
May 12, 2015 Zoe Carney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rich, detailed novel with an interesting range of varied and fully-developed characters. If I found myself wishing the protagonist was less passive, I at least understood exactly why she was the way she was, which is more than I've managed with some books.

Covering an ambitious span of years - from Nazneen's youth in Bangladesh to early middle-age in the East End of London - Ali's style is absorbing enough that it never feels rushed. The only thing stopping me giving this a 5 is that I felt lik
Zainab Tayyaba
Is this true?

It's a question I like very much. A student of philosophy must enquire all the time: is this the real nature of the world? But so must a student of physics, of history, of literature even and art... Whenever we are told something, before we receive it into our minds and hearts, we must put it to the test. We open a book, we turn a newspaper page, we allow the television and the radio to come into our homes. All the things we are told every day – are they true?

When the imam speaks, i
Nov 07, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, ebook
I thought this book was really interesting as it gave an insight into being an immigrant in England and it also gave insights into life in Bangladesh. Of course, Monica Ali has been scrutinised because she doesn't speak fluent Bangladeshi etc and I know nothing about the being an immigrant myself but I felt like the representation she gave felt really authentic.

I thought the characters were brilliant. They were really interesting and I felt like nearly every one of them added to the story. They
Farhana Faruq
Jan 30, 2016 Farhana Faruq rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is about a Bangladeshi family in London and the struggles of immigrant life.

I really wanted to like this book but it's boring! It's like reading peoples facebook feeds.. "I made dhal and rice today," "I cheat on my husband but it's okay, it's my fate," "Papers and dust cover my entire house but I'm to lazy to do anything about it"....blah, blah.

I also didn't really like how it was written. The letters her sister writes her from Dhaka are terrible, to a point where some don't even make sense
Diane S ☔
I would have to force myself to finish reading this book and quite frankly I don't want to. Neither like nor care what happens to these characters.
Apr 05, 2016 LeAnne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm writing a review this many years later because it has popped up on others' statuses. This immigrant story was exceptionally well written and gave me a view into the options that many Bangladeshi girls have for marriage and therefore the arc of their lives. Certainly there are those today who choose not to marry but to follow a career path, or marry for love with a happy ending - but at least in Monica Ali's tale, that was not the case.

It seems a little shocking that today, in the year 2016,
Mohd Antar
Aug 10, 2016 Mohd Antar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
روايه جيده تحكي عن المجتمع البينغالي الاسيوي في بريطانيا, وتملك الكاتبه الجرأه والخبره لتسرد لنا باقتدار عن هذا المجتمع وتناقضاته بين الانعزال التام عن المجتمع الانجليزي او الانخراط فيه وفقدان الهويه, حكايات مشوقه عن الشباب وعن النساء من اجيال مختلفه, ونجحت الكاتبه في رسم صور حيه لشخوصها متفاعله او منعزله مع المكان الذي تم توصيفه ورسمه جيدا. اصول الكاتبه البنغاليه والانجليزيه ساعدت كثيرا في انجاح هذا العمل الجيد.
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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 about Monica Ali...

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“The thing about getting older is that you don't need everything to be possible any more, you just need things to be certain.” 1771 likes
“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” 55 likes
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