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Brick Lane

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  27,736 ratings  ·  1,834 reviews
A captivating read from a debut novelist, Brick Lane brings the immigrant milieu of East London to vibrant life. With great poignancy, Ali illuminates a foreign world; her well-developed characters pull readers along on a deeply psychological, almost spiritual journey. Through the eyes of two Bangladeshi sisters—the plain Nazneen and the prettier Hasina—we see the divergen ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 2nd 2004 by Scribner (first published May 31st 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 ar…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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Average rating 3.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  27,736 ratings  ·  1,834 reviews


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Nancy
Jul 11, 2007 rated it did not like it
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 Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Jan-Maat
That was not what I expected.

Not that I can define very well what I did expect. I am curious that Ali, after making a splash with this book and writing a few more novels has pretty much disappeared.

I supposed I imagined that this book would very strongly a novel of the New Labour era that by now would be well past it's best before date and that it would smell dated and stale. It is dated in that I could see a novelist tackling the same topic might be angrier and there would not be minor touches
...more
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.
Alesa
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sarah
Oct 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z2015, ebook, 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
...more
Shovelmonkey1
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
...more
Zaki
Nov 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
Monica Ali's prose is the literary equivalent of a curry with too many cardamom seeds.
Nitya Iyer
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
...more
Richard Derus
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Paul
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Abbie | ab_reads
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
...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Annaliese
Apr 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
robin friedman
Monica Ali's "Brick Lane"

This lengthy and ambitious first novel explores, with indifferent success, the lives of Bangladeshi immigrants to London and the growth in independence and modification of culture of a young Bangladeshi woman.

The heroine of the book is Nazneen who at the age of 20 enters an arranged marriage with Chanu, age 40, a Banladeshi struggling to establish himself in London. Chanu is striving for a promotion, is proud of his attempts to secure education, and is portrayed at the o
...more
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
Jan 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
Christine
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
G. Lawrence
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Dale
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mary
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Lena
Sep 16, 2012 rated it liked it
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
...more
Yasmin Nessa
Jun 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zoe Carney
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Alka Joshi
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I first picked up this book 10 years ago, I couldn't put it down. I wanted to tell the young wife to stop lusting after the young political firebrand ("You're married, for god sakes!"), but Monica Ali's excellent writing made me empathize with her protagonist, leaving me torn. Nazneen is much younger than her husband and is finding her footing in a new country (England), having been brought from Bangladesh after her arranged marriage. Docile and obedient, as she was trained to be by her cul ...more
Ruthiella
Apr 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
I thought the end was a little rushed and maybe clichéd (with the ice skating), but otherwise, I enjoyed the writing and was carried along by this slow, quiet story of a Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen, who moves to England in the 1980s as part of an arranged marriage. There is a parallel story of sorts with her younger sister, Hasina, who stays in Bangladesh, told through letters. But the main focus is Nazneen and her life as a wife, a mother, a lover and a breadwinner living in a council flat in a ...more
Wendy
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mar-18, 5000-books
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.
F.R.
Nov 16, 2009 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
...more
Sonali V
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a surprisingly interesting read. Before starting I read a few reviews and they were mostly bad. They were critical about the characters & plot etc. So I started without much hope, thinking I would just read it haphazardly.... But as I said, it was very interesting. Then I realised that the first few reviews were from way back & times have changed, people are more aware of other cultures, of the immigrant experiences. Also new ways of writing & expressions have come up.....I could unders ...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

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