Brick Lane

Brick Lane

Book - 2003
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Keeping house and rearing children, Nazneen does what is expected of her. Into that fragile peace walks Karim, raising questions of longing and belonging that open her eyes to surprising truths. While Nazneen struggles in Tower Hamlets, her sister Hasina has her own dreams back home in Bangladesh.

Blackwell North Amer
Nazneen's inauspicious entry to the world, an apparent stillbirth on the hard mud floor of a Bangladeshi village hut, imbues in her a sense of fatalism that she carries across continents when she is married off to Chanu. Her life in London's Tower Hamlets is, on the surface, calm. For years, keeping house and rearing children, she does what is expected of her. Yet Nazneen walks a tightrope stretched between her daughters' embarrassment and her husband's resentments. Chanu calls his elder daughter the little memsahib. 'I didn't ask to be born here,' says Shahana, with regular finality.
Into that fragile peace walks Karim. He sets questions before her, of longing and belonging; he sparks in her a turmoil that reflects the community's own; he opens her eyes and directs her gaze - but what she sees, in the end, comes as a surprise to them both.
While Nazneen journeys along her path of self-realization, a way haunted by her mother's ghost, her sister Hasina, back in Bangladesh, rushes headlong at her life, first making a 'love marriage', then fleeing her violent husband. Woven through the novel, Hasina's letters from Dhaka recount a world of overwhelming adversity. Shaped - yet ultimately not bound - by their landscapes and memories, both sisters struggle to dream themselves out of the rules prescribed for them.

Publisher: London : Doubleday, 2003.
ISBN: 9780385604840
Characteristics: 412 p. ; 24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 12, 2015

Nazneen is a young unspoiled Bangladeshi girl who enters into an arranged marriage with a much older Bangladeshi who lives in London. She finds herself cloistered in a small flat in a highrise block in the East End of London. She speaks no English and is dependent on other immigrant women and her two daughters. But Nazneen is a survivor and we rejoice with her in her eventual triumph over her dependency.

Jul 28, 2013

This is the first book I have read about the Bangladeshi community in London and I loved it. Nazneen may be a woman from a village in Bangladesh married to an older educated man, a city man who lives in London, but she adjusts well. The book spins a tale around Nazneen, her family both in London and in Dhaka and how she deals with situations and people in London.
Not only is the tale fascinating and informative, it is philosophical too. For example when Nazneen fantasizes about wearing Western Clothes and feels that "for a glorious moment it was clothes, not fate, made her life."
Chanu on the other hand is always posing Philosophical questions like, "Is this true? It's a question I like very much. A student of philosophy must inquire all the time."
Even the casual conversations between the women can sometimes be very philosophical like when Hanufa and Razia are shooting the breeze about their children.
"He does not want to live the life I made for him."
"But that is our problem - making lives for our children. They want to make them for themselves.
"Yes. They will do that. Even if it kills them."
All in all a very well-written book. It is not surprising that it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

WVMLBookClubTitles Jun 17, 2013

Up and coming British author Ali captures how a Muslim housewife might think and act and what her aspirations might be in this portrayal of a Bangladeshi woman who is transported to London at age eighteen to enter into an arranged marriage to a man old enough to be her father. Her daughters are the catalyst for her gradual transformation, love affair, and questioning of whether fate controls her or whether she has a hand in her own destiny.

Apr 17, 2013

I liked this book - it was a great summer read. Very interesting perspective and it opened my eyes to the London Muslim community.

Jul 30, 2012

Engaging book of Bangladeshi immigrants straddling two cultures and the choices they are forced to make. Wonderful characters with unique perspecitves on their situations. Nazneen, mother, daughter, sister trapped between worlds of rigid culture and opportunity. Chanu gained my sympathy trying to uphold old country values in a London landscape with ever changing rules and opportunites. And beautiful Hasina seeing God and the best of humanity in the worst the world has to offer. So glad I found this book.

Jun 26, 2012

Monica Ali deftly portrays the culture shock of immigrants as well as many of the issues facing immigrant families and their children born in the new countries. Really enjoyed this book, very well written and different to many other books.

Oct 21, 2009

Worth reading in order to acquire more information about the Immigrant Experience from this this Bangladeshi woman's experience.

Oct 27, 2007

I enjoyed this book very much and it was difficult to read at times because of the events in the woman's life. It covered continents with India and England as well as social mores and the social differences in the two countries.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top