Simply Reading : Brick Lane

I don’t know how I missed reading this novel when it was published in 2003, but I’m delighted to have found it now.  I’m thoroughly impressed with Monica Ali’s command of language, her thoughtfully created characters, and the way she perfectly expresses cultural dichotomies.  In addition to all that, Brick Lane is about a woman finding her true self in spite of what fate has handed her.

I loved the paragraphs describing the actual Brick Lane, and Nazneen’s first venture into her London neighborhood…like this one:

Outside, small patches of mist bearded the lampposts and a gang of pigeons turned weary circles on the grass like prisoners in an exercise yard. A woman hurried past with a small child in her arms. The client screamed and kicked its legs against the kidnapper. The woman produced a plastic rattle with which to gag her victim. Nazneen pulled the end of her sari over her hair. At the main road, she looked both ways, and then went left. Two men were dragging furniture out of a junk shop to display on the pavement. One of them went inside and came out again with a wheelchair. He tied a chain around it and padlocked it to an armchair as if arranging a three-legged furniture race. Nazneen changed her mind and turned around. She walked until she reached the big crossroads and waited at the curb while the traffic roared from one direction and then the next. Twice she stepped into the road and drew back again. To get to the other side of the street without being hit by a car was like walking out in the monsoon and hoping to dodge the raindrops. A space opened up before her. God is great, said Nazneen under her breath. She ran.


So tell me, have you ever happened across a marvelous read, long after everyone else has read it?


7 thoughts on “Simply Reading : Brick Lane

  1. I haven’t read this, but it sounds beautiful. I so look forward to the time when I can read book after book, without stopping. That would be heaven.

    The marvelous reads I have come across are both so old that generations have read them (when I discovered Wilkie Collins in my twenties, for example, and Trollope in my thirties I remember being so excited to know how many books there were!! Of course, I also knew they were dead, which meant that the books were finite.)

    Books from this century would include Midnight’s Children, which is wonderful and had been out for a long time before I read it. One of the reasons I read blogs is to find out what I’ve missed. And now I can add Brick Lane to that list!

    • I discovered Trollope in my 20’s (because of a Masterpiece Theater series), but I think I was too young to really appreciate him. However, I was smart enough to order the entire collection of Palliser novels, the companions to the series, and they are on my list to read when I have “time to read book after book without stopping.” And that will probably really be in heaven 🙂

  2. I am always coming across reads after everybody else has been there, done that…as evidenced by the fact that I missed this! Notably, and fluffily, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel OMG This Title Is So Long! I was raving about it for weeks after I read it, recommended it to everyone and they were all, DUDE WELCOME TO LAST YEAR.

  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I often do that. The fact that everybody’s reading something alienates me from wanting to because I have a contrary streak. I’m getting a bit mellower though as I get older.

    • I do sometimes shy away from books that are “over” popular, and then come back to them later and discover I’ve actually missed something. Guess I have the same contrary streak 😉

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