Christine's Reviews > Brick Lane

Brick Lane by Monica Ali
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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. The bulk of the novel is told though the eyes of Nazneen and when it is not Nazneen we are hearing, it is her sister. Because of these characters and how they were raised, the reader must puzzle things out because the woman are silent on such issues. For instance, what exactly happened to Hasina when she left her first husband. Hasina never directly tells us, but an attentive reader knows. The same is true about Nazneen. It seems that though a good portion of the book Nazneen is heavily depressed. In fact, Ali does a very good job of conveying this, from the state of the house to the state of the food to relationships. This book thrives on the main characters not saying things, and having small details speak. Its interesting, and something I did not find annoying. In many ways, the book is about what takes place in silence.

Ali could also make Nazneen's husband Chanu into a brute of a man, but she doesn't. In fact, Chanu is a sympathetic and believable character. When Nazneen hurts him, we feel his pain even though we can understand why Nazneen chose to do what she did.

I'm not sure how accurately the book captures the London immigrant's experience, but it does display a good sense of time and space.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 25, 2009 – Shelved
October 30, 2016 – Shelved as: literature-english
October 30, 2016 – Shelved as: poc-on-cover
June 8, 2017 – Shelved as: race-issues
February 3, 2018 – Shelved as: poc-unclear-hero-or-heroine
June 21, 2018 – Shelved as: literature-bangladesh
July 23, 2018 – Shelved as: poc-author-artist
May 23, 2019 – Shelved as: women-writers

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