Monica Ali is the daughter of English and Bangladeshi parents.
She came to England at the age of three, and her first home was Bolton in Greater Manchester. Ali later studied at Oxford University.
Her first novel, Brick Lane (2003), is an epic saga about a Bangladeshi family living in the UK and explores the British immigrant experience. It was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction and was made into a film that was released in 2007.
Her second novel, Alentejo Blue, set in Portugal, was published in 2006, and her third novel, In the Kitchen, was published in 2009. Her latest novel is Untold Story, which was published in 2011.
Ali, who was named one of the twenty "Best of Young British Novelists" in 2003 by Granta magazine, currently lives in London with her husband and two children.
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A Conversation with Monica Ali about In The Kitchen
Contains plot spoilers
In the Kitchen vividly thrusts the reader into the sweaty, frenetic, almost pirate-ship-like world of the kitchen in a major urban restaurant. Did you rely upon any first-hand experience to bring the kitchen scenes to life?
I spent a year researching the novel and several years before that thinking about it and reading around it. Part of my year of intensive research was in the north of England where sections of the novel are set but most of it was in London where I spent time in restaurant kitchens and in five big hotels, always on the understanding that I would never identify them. That gave me great access and once I had entered the world of hotels I knew that a hotel would be my main setting. Hotels are like microcosms of society. You get everything from the penthouse suite at the top to the porter in the basement compacting rubbish. But it was always the kitchens that I was particularly drawn to. Those places are like UN assemblies. You get every different nationality down there, so they are a very rich source of diverse stories.
What inspired you to write about the life of a chef?
In the UK, and perhaps in ...
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