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Brick Lane

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  26,416 ratings  ·  1,756 reviews
Still in her teenage years, Nazneen finds herself in an arranged marriage with a disappointed man who is twenty years older. Away from the mud and heat of her Bangladeshi village, home is now a cramped flat in a high-rise block in London's East End. Nazneen knows not a word of English, and is forced to depend on her husband. But unlike him she is practical and wise, and be ...more
Paperback, 493 pages
Published 2004 by Black Swan (first published January 1st 2003)
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Tanz the Fluorescent Adolescent Generally, the British Bangladeshi population isn't huge but a large proportion of the London borough Tower Hamlets consists of Bangladeshis. There…moreGenerally, the British Bangladeshi population isn't huge but a large proportion of the London borough Tower Hamlets consists of Bangladeshis. There are also a lot of Bangladeshis in Newham and Hackney.(less)

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3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  26,416 ratings  ·  1,756 reviews

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Jul 11, 2007 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
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 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
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.
Oct 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, z2015, fiction
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
Dec 31, 2013 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
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  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
Nov 03, 2010 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.
Nitya Sivasubramanian
Aug 08, 2007 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
Richard Derus
Rating: 2* of five

A long succession of standard tropes, cliched dialogue, and stock characters made somehow new and fresh by the fact that they're all of Indian descent.

Frankly, I found it lazy and felt the decent author behind the blandness of the book should be given a "D"--not passing, not failing, not much of anything at all. I'll pass on this one's career. Returned to my facility's library shelves, with a slight twinge of guilt for not putting it in the little free library just down the boa
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, fiction
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
Oct 17, 2013 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
Apr 16, 2008 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
Abbie | ab_reads
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This book left me with quite mixed feelings to be honest. I wanted to love it, it’s been compared to White Teeth by Zadie Smith which is one of my all time faves, but I thought it lacked the vibrancy and liveliness of White Teeth, despite both of them portraying the lives of immigrants in London.
Brick Lane follows Nazneen, a Bangladeshi woman who moves to London for an arranged marriage. I think the slowness of the book comes from the passivity of Nazneen, as she doesn’t really do much for much
Inderjit Sanghera
Monica Ali is able to capture  the sense of discombobulation felt by both both first generation immigrants; whether it is the Shakespeare-loving Chanu, who on the one hand sees himself as a lover of English literature, a sensitive, educated and artistically minded man who missed his calling as the Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, but on the hand deeply feels the deep-seated prejudices he experiences in Britain and begins to hate the modernity taking over the country, a kind of walking co ...more
$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
Jan 03, 2008 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.
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
G. Lawrence
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. The author makes the everyday and often sorrowful events of this woman's life poetic. It is about ordinary life, struggles, hardships, conflicts of faith, duty and culture, and yet for all that it is also beautiful... Giving the details of the good in life which comes with the bad... Showing Nazneen's love for her children, her understanding of god and faith, her sister's search for the life she wants... and although it wasn't always easy to read, it was captivating. The world o ...more
Apr 01, 2008 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
Dec 03, 2014 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
Sep 16, 2012 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
Yasmin Nessa
Jun 20, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zoe Carney
Apr 26, 2015 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
Madalina G
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully written novel about the life of a Bangladeshi woman living as an immigrant in East London.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-books, mar-18
I really wanted to enjoy this novel but I didn't. However I read it for book club and we did have a wonderful discussion.
Nov 16, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Nov 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010, prize-winners
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
Beth Bonini
Oct 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
July 2010
I've been currently reading this since July . . . and even though I'm about to hit the climax of the novel (I hope), I don't know if I can be bothered. I can't understand why this book just doesn't grip me; but I keep putting it aside for other, more compelling, books.

July 2014
After four years, I picked this book up again. For some reason, I was able to imaginatively immerse myself in the world of the characters in a way that I hadn't on my first (incomplete) reading. Brilliant characte
LeAnne: GeezerMom
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,
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I was torn whether to give this book three or four stars, I liked the beginning and loved the final third, but there was a slightly tedious bit in the middle. Three for most of it and four for the last bit when Nazneem finds her voice.
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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
“The thing about getting older is that you don't need everything to be possible any more, you just need things to be certain.” 1727 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” 63 likes
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