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Brick Lane
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Book Discussions > Brick Lane by Monica Ali | Book Discussion

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Jean Menzies (jeanmenzies) | 115 comments This is the thread to chat all about our May/June 2018 Brick Lane

You can start sharing your thoughts and feelings on the book at any point in your reading experience. If you are including specific details about the plot beyond the blurb please use this text to keep any spoilers hidden unless expressly opened by another member to read - you can let everyone know what point in the book the spoilers pertain to beforehand: <*spoiler*>This is the text that will be hidden.<*/spoiler*> (remove the asterixes*)

It'll be good to read some more feminist fiction and this one has so much praise that I'm really excited! I hope you are too.


message 2: by Maria Hill (new)

Maria Hill AKA MH Books (mariahilldublin) I just picked up a copy in a secondhand book shop. However I have a busy schedule so it will be about a month before I get to it.


message 3: by Benthe (new) - added it

Benthe van Wanrooij (benthevanwanrooij) | 1 comments I'm waiting for it to arrive at my doorstep. I am very curious to read it, as the reviews on Goodreads are so mixed, and looking forward to forming my own opinion.


Nicole (nicolejlefevre) | 1 comments I had to read it for my second year of university, and I really liked it! Can’t wait to see what everybody thinks of it!


Cendaquenta I'm a bit over 100pages in, finding it interesting so far.


The LoreMaster's Daughter (theloredaughter) | 1 comments I’m only 15 pages in and longing for a glossary. I love learning new words from books! There’s just been a good dozen already.

The prose also makes me think of oral folktales, so that’s been interesting.


Lauren Wade (readsanddaydreams) | 15 comments Hello! How’s everyone getting on with Brick Lane so far? I have not had the chance to pick it up yet in May, so this is most definitely going to be a June read for me 😊
Can’t wait to hear all of your thoughts xx


message 8: by Ket (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ket | 7 comments I finished Brick Lane last night, late, since it was a checkout from the library for me and I was going to lose it off my kindle tomorrow.

What I realized was that the reason I'd struggled so heavily to become engaged with the narrative is because Nazneen, whose story is supposedly central here, is strictly self-denying as a character, and the story is framed to reflect the way in which she has no engagement in her own life. And it's written to that intention so well that for me personally, I felt almost actively rejected by every page. Whenever I wanted something to happen, Nazneen would not let the thing happening have any portentousness. Everything was thrown back to fate, leaving Nazneen and I passive receptacles of other characters' experiences. Really brilliantly done, but kind of torturous to sit through; if I hadn't had this one on kindle where I was making highlights of key sentences to review every now and then and keep in mind, I'm not sure I would have made it.

I wrote more on this and other thoughts in my review (link because it's long, but there are spoiler tags on plot elements, although I do talk about the ending of the book outside of spoiler tags in this so be forewarned): Brick Lane review.

The crisis point of the novel was stunning to me! I hadn't heard anything about the book before so I had no idea Ali would go that hard. I won't say any more on that.

Very happy this was a pick, even though I struggled so much with finding a way to stay invested. It didn't help that Hasina's portions, in letter format, grated on my nerves - I suck at reading epistolary-style narratives, letters, diaries, I usually just put them down, bored to hell. I don't talk much in my review about Hasina, and that's mostly because, while I understood the importance of her story, I have to steamroll through letters in fiction or I'll put the book down and never pick it up again. It'd probably be good for me to reflect more on her story, and on the memories of the village, and the dreams. I'd also love to talk more about Karim, and the kind of person he is, and what it meant for Nazneen to know Karim at the time in his life, and in her life, that she knew him. You know, for my top complaint while reading being 'if something doesn't happen in twenty pages I'm going to scream,' there is a lot to unpack in this book, a ton that goes on, and some really complex relationships - some presented in pretty drastic caricature, and others very understated.


message 9: by Ella (new) - added it

Ella (ellamc) I'm not reading the thread yet because I literally just got my hands on my copy yesterday, so I' hope to clear my plate & get to it Monday or so.


message 10: by Jess (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jess Penhallow | 2 comments So I finished this today and this is my review https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I agree with Ket that Nazneen's passivity made her really difficult to relate to and when she did act towards the end of the book it seemed to be with no forewarning, The other characters in the book are so colourful in comparison.

Something else that I touch on in my review but want to talk more about is what a great character Chanu is. I was expecting him to be written as a one note oppressor of Nazneen but I really sympathised with him and his struggle to make something for himself and to be 'educated' whilst still clinging to his role as the patriarch as something that was solid whilst the rest of his world was so uncertain. His total obliviousness was quite endearing.


Evelyn Jones | 3 comments Overall, I really enjoyed this book and feel I learnt a lot from it. The character of Razia was my personal favourite as a quiet and understated heroin. I also agree with other reviews stating that Chanu is a fantastic character who is just striving to make a better life for himself and his family but is deep down terribly unhappy with himself and his environment.

As I was going along reading I found so many phrases I wanted to highlight for a number of reasons, particularly I found in the dialogue between Nazneen and Mrs Islam.

Reading this book in the context of 2018 was fascinating as well given the backdrop of the period of time it was written and set.

All in all I found some parts a little difficult to follow (particularly her sister's letters and story line) but a fascinating read and I'm glad it was included on the reading list.


Claire (cmargerison) | 5 comments I finished this book this morning after reading it in big chunks on coffee breaks and train journeys. I think, without those concentrated sessions reading, it would have taken me a bit longer.

I think, like others have said here, Ali beautifully crafts a narrative the constantly rejects (a sense of self, autonomy, choice) - set against the backdrop of the late 90s / early 2000s, made the idea of 'turning points' even more poignant.

I came to feel really invested in Nazeen's character and the world she existed in and I'm glad I pushed through to the end!


message 13: by Jean (last edited Jun 29, 2018 06:50AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jean Menzies (jeanmenzies) | 115 comments I think I'm in a similar position to lots of other people here. Although I valued some of the content of this book I felt very disconnected as a reader and rarely compelled to carry on reading it, which is a shame. I think some interesting points have been made that this is due to the experiences of the protagonist and I think that's fair and I think the author was highlighting important issues I just wish I'd been more engaged.

Then again timing can be so important to a reading experience and it may just have bee the wrong time for me as all I'm craving at the moment is escapist fantasy aha. Glad I finally gave it a shot at least.


message 14: by Julie (new)

Julie | 11 comments I couldn’t finish the book. I honestly just couldn’t get into it. I don’t know if it was the writing style or that the characters seemed rather two dimensional to me or that it was just plain boring. I tried. I gave up. I just couldn’t get emotionally invested into the story and had too many better things to read during the time.


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