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Brick Lane by Monica Ali
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Jul 28, 11


This was an eminently readable novel. As I read it (on a long train journey that took me through London) I found myself transported into the lives of the characters, sympathizing with them and finding new understanding for the intricacies and intimacies involved in being an immigrant, torn between two cultures, a past and a present, memories, loyalties and comforts... It was a very enjoyable book and I have no real criticisms of it, I'd certainly recommend it. It was eye opening, but also very real and unpretentious, like it wasn't trying to BE anything in particular, it was just telling a story, in a way that sounded honest. There is plenty to the story, and I think that is the best thing about it, it's not simplified to fit a prescribed literary form with crescendos and tidy endings. Instead it shows the progression of life, the overlapping of past and present, the constant rewriting of history (herstory). If I've given it a low rating it's not because it's not a good book, because it is, but perhaps because it doesn't follow the usual literary format and therefore doesn't give you much beyond real life (although there are elements of philosophy in it, particularly in the 'leaving things to fate' aspect and the reliance on religion - however these fit into the sort of cultural examination that the novel makes rather than adding to the storyline). My rating therefore is a matter of personal preference, and due to my comparison with novels that I felt gave me more. More objectively, I do think it's a worthwhile read particularly for anyone with an interest in 'multiculturalism', immigration, different cultures and integration.
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