After an arranged marriage to Chanu, a man twenty years older, Nazneen is taken to London, leaving her home and heart in the Bangladeshi village where she was born. Her new world is full of mysteries. How can she cross the road without being hit by a car (an operation akin to dodging raindrops in the monsoon)? What is the secret of her bullying neighbor Mrs. Islam? What is a Hell’s Angel? And how must she comfort the naïve and disillusioned Chanu?
As a good Muslim girl, Nazneen struggles to not question why things happen. She submits, as she must, to Fate and devotes herself to her husband and daughters. Yet to her amazement, she begins an affair with a handsome young radical, and her erotic awakening throws her old certainties into chaos.
Monica Ali’s splendid novel is about journeys both external and internal, where the marvellous and the terrifying spiral together.
This was the first book that I read by Ms. Ali and she instantly became one of my favorite authors. From her descriptive prose, I have been able to create an image of Bangladesh, which was not hard for me as I have vivited Bangladesh (and later London) – one that feels very real, including the sights, smells, dusty roads, etc.. As the characters developed, we were given glimpses into Bangladeshi and Muslim beliefs along with the Bengali people.
This is an interesting story with a good perspective, told from the female protagonists point of view. Characters are well developed and the plot flows well…to the western culture , it can spark a lot of conversation regarding arranged weddings, the submissive role of women in some cultures, etc but to me it is quiet natural … I personally had an arranged marriage and no I am not submissive but yes the culture I come from .. women are still in the rural areas and in some cases urban too, plays a very submissive role.. The overall plot is also very much known to me as I am a bengali , though not Muslim, but Muslim or Hindu, Bengalis share a culture that she describes to perfection. She opens a window onto the world of the deracinated and, as a counterpoint, onto the life of those left behind in an impoverished, Islamic homeland. Neither life is easy. In fact sometimes it is downright unbearable. And yet it must be lived.
The story of immigrants encompasses almost all of human history. Success lies in assimilation: making new homes, settling into new territories, and adapting to new cultures. Failure lies in isolation and segregation. But sticking with people of your own kind in an unfamiliar environment is a survival technique and makes perfect sense.
Brick Lane is a book to be savoured and read st leisure and then shared with friends..
This review is part of “2010 South ASian Author challenge 2010” & “2010 Support Your local Library Reading Challenge”