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.
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?