Authors: Monica Ali
Table of Contents
Monica Ali was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and grew up in England. She is one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists of the decade, Newcomer of the Year at the 2004 British Book Awards and has been nominated for most of the major literary prizes in Britain.
was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the George Orwell Prize for political writing and the prestigious Commonwealth Writers' Prize. It has been translated into 26 languages.
Internationally there has been similar recognition including, in the United States, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the
Los Angeles Times
'First Fiction' Prize where the book was shortlisted.
Monica Ali lives in London with her husband and two children, and is working on her next novel.
'Monica Ali has aroused high expectations for her debut novel – and they are not disappointed . . . Ali's book is a shining example of the rule that a writer should "show" rather than "tell". Her strength lies in minute observations. By delineating, with wit and gentle irony, her characters' physical quirks, habits, clothes or voices, she brings them alive . . . Brick Lane is a wonderful debut'
is as crisp and urgent as a headline . . . But the true pleasure of this wonderful novel comes from its timeless sense of wonder and affection for the haplessness of human nature'
'The joy of this book is its marriage of a wonderful writer with a fresh, rich and hidden world. Her achievement is huge. She has made
one of those all-encompassing reads that you put down reluctantly and rush back to as soon as you can. And all this rich observation of life is unfolded by a writer with a gorgeous and fertile gift for simile . . . there are no dull patches, no cut corners, no clichés in Monica Ali's writing'
'Splendid . . . Daring . . . Brilliant . . . Refreshing . . . Intensely gripping and involving . . . The power of Ali's book is the way in which it charts its heroine's slow accumulation of English, her gathering confidence as a mother and a wife, and the undulations of her marriage to a man whom she eventually learns to respect and perhaps even to love . . .
is a great achievement of the subtlest storytelling'
The New Republic
'The heart of the novel, and its most assured achievement, is Nazneen herself. Ali portrays her journey from submissive teenager to hesitantly independent mother with poetic intelligence . . . that Ali does this not with stylistic fireworks but with measured, exact prose, only makes her success more commendable'
The Times Literary Supplement
'A genuinely moving portrait. . .
manages to do many of the things that fiction does best'
Washington Post Book World
'Monica Ali is a fabulous writer, and Brick Lane is finely observed, deeply compassionate, wry and tender' Meera Syal
'Virtuosic . . . at once sophisticated and innocent, compassionate and entertaining'
Los Angeles Times
'A very special novel – I adored it. It gave me everything I crave in a novel, taking me into a life and culture I know so little about. . .entertaining, moving and fascinating' Margaret Forster
'Ali's novel is warm, shrewd, startling and hugely readable: the sort of book you race through greedily, dreading the last page . . . The themes are the big ones – identity, self-determination, the freight of family – and they are kept afloat by the buoyancy of Ali's characterisation, which occasionally verges on the Dickensian without every resorting to caricature. In Nazneen's world, everyone is convincingly governed by their own individual logic. Throughout, one is struck by Ali's ability to shift gracefully from comedy to tragedy and back again'
'Ali writes with a mixture of passion and restraint that is totally exhilarating'
'Entertaining and full of insight . . . talented, thoughtful and mature' Hilary Mantel
'Ali's ability to layer her narrative with ambiguities marks her as a major novelist'
Sydney Morning Herald
'Monica Ali's first novel,
exposes a hidden world and allows the reader a detailed and fascinating glimpse into British Bengali culture. Ian Jack noted, when he explained why the Granta panel had included Ali in their list of the 20 most promising young British novelists, that her prose brings us "news" about contemporary Britain in a way that only fiction can. I certainly feel more informed about the people who are my next-door neighbours that I did before I read this book'
'A novel that not only justifies the hype but effortlessly opens up a new and potentially rich seam in mainstream British fiction'
'A rich, panoramic sweep of a novel centred on the often harsh, sometimes unexpected and always compelling experiences of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi village girl sent to East London in an arranged marriage,
is beautifully conceived and wrought. Its emotionally literate story-telling is leavened with wry humour and informed by a politicised consciousness'
'Ali has an impressive command of her story, but her real gift is in the richness of the lives she has created, populating Nazneen's London with a very entertaining cast of comic characters. Her main target is pride, from Mrs Islam, a pompous but corrupt meddler, to Karim, a militant Islamic youth and adulterer, and, most of all, Chanu, whose self-delusion is made laughable but also sickening. Ali skewers presumption and prejudice at every turn'
'A début novel full of confidence and stylistic zip that announces a significant new voice in contemporary fiction . . .
invites the reader into a perfectly invented world and holds them there'
'Vibrant, innovative and amazingly assured. A respect for fate instilled by her mother means Nazneen must accept passively whatever life brings. As the least dynamic character in the novel, she becomes a tool for the author's powers of observation – and these are magnificent, placing Ali among Britain's greatest writers, never mind young or old'
'What's so remarkable about Brick Lane is its assurance: the writing is laudably unfussy, the tone incredibly tender'
'Monica Ali was a name to watch before this, her debut novel, was published thanks to her inclusion in the Granta list of best young British novelists.
– the story of a Bangladeshi woman stuck in the East End in an unhappy arranged marriage – will get a lot of attention. Deservedly so'
'Ali writes with the same raw power as Vikram Seth and Salman Rushdie . . . her story is a potent mix of bleak fortitude, conflicting cultures and wonderful lyrical passages. Highly recommended'
'The book fulfils all expectations. Ali is a consummate storyteller and has that rare ability to draw the reader into what is, for most, an unfamiliar world'
'Ali's well-rounded character, pithy observations and superb writing make fantastic entertainment'
Woman & Home