Reader reviews and comments on Brick Lane, plus links to write your own review.

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Brick Lane

by Monica Ali

Brick Lane
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2003, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2004, 432 pages

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There are currently 6 reader reviews for Brick Lane
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Altaf (08/08/07)

Chanu is exploited by writer
I have known from the novel that Chanu is student of English at Dhaka University and a professor at London, who bears knowledge about philosophy, ethnicity, racism, class and so on. As an educated man why he does feel obstacle to enrich his career in the context of ''multicultural'' society in London. Is he disqualified? Haven't much ability of him to get promotion?

Ali didn't clear what has happened actually with Chanu. However, Chanu is represented as biological man, whose age is twice of his wife, Nazneen, but we have to think that mankind is not only a biological thing but also s/he is cultural and social being. Chanu is educated, and therefore he knows better than his daughters to how to treat British culture. Ali could have mentioned some significance comments of white people on Bangladeshi people as well as their culture. British ruled Indian Subcontinent, but I am afraid I didn't find the present talks from young generation in London. Chanu explained a few but Ali stopped him to continue his intellectuality. Finally, the book is good to guess about Bangladeshi migrant in London.
Rana Sinha (10/15/06)

Daring yet nonjudgemental exposition of Bangladeshi immigrant world in the UK.
In her first novel Monica Ali does in brilliant job in placing her characters in their larger context. Typically novels of this genre are very demanding on readers who do not have much insight of the other culture. Monica Ali manages to interpret the complexities of Bangladeshi culture, especially Bangladeshi immigrant culture and make them fairly approachable to western readers.

The author takes up the issue of women's position in Bangladesh and in the immigrant community in Britain without giving it obsessive importance. She shows very adeptly how the young Bangladeshi immigrants born in the UK are struggling with their identity and struggling between the lure of white affluent drug pushers and religious extremism. The visions of ‘home’ creeps up constantly like a ubiquitous spook.
The choice of the name of the novel and the characters is brilliant. She seems to suggest that all her characters, the kindly yet bloated and ineffectual Chanu, the perceptive yet uneducated Nazneen, Dr Azad with an English wife, the ruthless usurer Mrs Islam, the natural born leader and man of action Karim and Nazneen's sister Hasina back 'home' in Bangladesh are walking in their narrow lanes and facing brick walls on all sides. Hasina takes control of her fate, as does Nazneen in the end. Monica Ali exposes a lot of malaise in both societies yet Nazneen and Hasina, central to the two poles of the narrative never lose a sense of hope and wonderment. This is very poignant against the increasingly disillusioned resignation of Chanu.

Highly recommended as this book is at once perceptive yet innocent and compassionate.
Mona (01/14/05)

This novel, though a first one written by Monica Ali deserves all the praise it gets. This is because the book is so beautifully written and is even complicated in its simplicity. As opposed to what some people complain about, this novel is not about plot. If you want plot you might as well read Stephen King or something. This book is about how the vulnerable struggle for survival and strive for the truth. Its about how they are crushed by society and how this experience reforms them into something brand new. Its not a suspense-filled thriller but rather a subtle celebration of life. The bond between the protagonists grows stronger even when there lives are flooding up with disaster. And the most glorious thing about this book is that there is a sense of morality, a sense of assurance and a sense of being in control of fate. But, when a person brought up in the media-controlled, self-saturated and oblivious-to-the-world western society, he/she is not likely to absorb a word written in Brick Lane. But of course, there are people with exceptions, people who actually think beyond the Utopian junk that they're fed by the media around them. All in all, it is one of the most realistic and profound novels I've ever read.
mohita datta (06/07/04)

Brick Lane is like a ton of bricks falling on the shining reviews of well-known publications. It sounds so rehashed and cliched- right from the grubby interiors of the Bangladreshi-immigrants home & life to pompous and foolish husband. the story is neither inspirational nor compelling nor refreshing nor different nor....its a crashing bore.
You wonder what makes these good-sense publications give such fancy views. Have mercy on our time, money and sensibilities. Be truthful, for others sake.
And yes i did, what any sensible person would do, gift-wrapped it and presented it to my friend on her birthday, extolling the reviews....remember the story of the Emperor without clothes...and nobody wanting to tell him.
Craig (06/03/04)

This book may appeal to the trendy, hip professional woman who has heard of Brick Lane "The area" through their cool friends. This book presents a a dismal and disappointing look at life through the eyes of a Bangladeshi immigrant girl. This book does very well to portray the negative aspects of Bangladeshi's. We did not know about this before, but now thanks to Monica, it has got the exposure it deserves. I just wonder whether organisation such as the British National Party will use this opportunity to muddy the waters. Anyhow, I find it interesting to read about the Author who grew up in Bolton (250 miles away), educated in Oxford can draw comparisons and talk about characters she barely knows anything about. I have lived in Tower hamlets and there are a lot of similarities in the book which she refers. Most of the people in TH are from a region in Bangladesh called Sylhet. Sylhetis and Dhaka people have a sort of grudge against each other and this book just affirms it since Monica is originally from Dhaka. And Hence, I think this book does not deserve the praise it gets. The reasons it has got good reviews it because, it has been written by 1: A woman, 2: A muslim Woman, 3: A immigrant muslim woman 4: Possibly the only asian woman at the moment.

Intikhab Alam (01/10/04)

I buy Brick Lane novel by Monica Ali to read. Make big mistake. Novel not half as good as they write in phoren reviews.

   Plot not interesting at all. About one girl Nazneen who born in Bangladesh and come to London. She marry man very more old than her called Chanu. Chanu big fool. Always dreaming about becoming great man but doing nothing. Nazneen doing only house work, producing three children <<edited for potential plot spoiler content>> and getting bored. So she start dreaming about ice skating and begin having sex with young man Karim. Karim belonging to Bengal Tigers which is dangerous fanatic Muslim group always talking about September 11 and trying to make trouble with white people called Lion Hearts. Nazneen also having sister in Bangladesh called Hasina. Me liking Hasina. She having interesting life and writing letters to sister. Postage in Bangladesh really cheap because Hasina, even being very poor, writing lots of letters to sister in England. But Monica Ali not interested in Hasina story maybe because she don't knowing Bangladesh too well. Instead we learning all about pubs and bars in Tower Hamlets and touring around London. Chanu is being friends with one Dr. Azad who not knowing whether he liking or hating Chanu. Another character called Mrs. Islam always using heat spray and lending money on fleecing interest.

In parts novel becoming very slow slow. Me not understanding what need for this novel running into 500 pages. Even Monica Ali not knowing how to finish 500 pages. So she start writing about Amma and jinni and exorcism.

I reading Hasina letters and tearing my hair out. Her Bengali be worse than my English. Example: "Nothing here for making scared of". Yet she writing poetic things like "sun is red like hell and big like anything". I wondering also how Nazneen suddenly understanding and spouting English. Maybe Monica Ali forgetting she not Nazneen.

Western people who not knowing about Bangladeshis finding Monica Ali's Tower Hamlets very exotic. But for us this novel as damp as annual flood in our village. Now I waggle my head like Chanu and wonder why wasted my money.
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