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 befriends a fellow Asian girl Razia, who helps her understand the strange ways of her adopted new British home.
Nazneen keeps in touch with her sister Hasina back in the village. But the rebellious Hasina has kicked against cultural tradition and run off in a 'love marriage' with the man of her dreams. When he suddenly turns violent, she is forced into the degrading job of garment girl in a cloth factory.
Confined in her flat by tradition and family duty, Nazneen also sews furiously for a living, shut away with her buttons and linings - until the radical Karim steps unexpectedly into her life. On a background of racial conflict and tension, they embark on a love affair that forces Nazneen finally to take control of her fate.
Strikingly imagined, gracious and funny, this novel is at once epic and intimate. Exploring the role of Fate in our lives - those who accept it; those who defy it - it traces the extraordinary transformation of an Asian girl, from cautious and shy to bold and dignified woman.
About the Author
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. Brick Lane was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the George Orwell Prize for political writing and the prestigious Commonwealth Writers' Prize. 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.
"'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'" * The Times *
"'I was totally gripped by Brick Lane. A brilliant evocation of sensuality which might occur anywhere'" * Daily Telegraph *
"'Written with a wisdom and skill that few authors attain in a lifetime'" * The Sunday Times *
"'Comedy and poignancy abound...Brick Lane is a wonderful debut'" * Sunday Telegraph *
"'Brick Lane has everything: richly complex characters, a gripping story and it's funny too'" * Observer *