Monica Ali biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Monica Ali

Monica Ali

Monica Ali Biography

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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Interview

Monica Ali discusses her third novel, In The Kitchen, which is set in the frenetic, almost pirate-ship-like world of the kitchen in a major urban restaurant (Q&A contains potential 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 the USA as well, we've become quite obsessed with chefs. And even though we see...

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Books by this Author

Books by Monica Ali at BookBrowse
Untold Story jacket In the Kitchen jacket Alentejo Blue jacket Brick Lane jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Monica Ali but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Leila Aboulela

    Leila Aboulela

    Leila Aboulela won the first Caine Prize for African Writing and is the author of many novels. Minaret was longlisted for the 2006 Orange Prize. The Translator was one of The New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year. ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Brick Lane

    Try:
    Minaret
    by Leila Aboulela

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. She is from Abba, in Anambra State, but grew up in the university town of Nsukka where she attended primary and secondary schools and briefly studied Medicine and ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Brick Lane

    Try:
    The Thing Around Your Neck
    by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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