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Ali, Monica

nanzeen story husband love

(British, 1967– )

Monica Ali was born in former E.Pakistan (now Bangladesh), and grew up in Bolton. Brick Lane (2003, Booker shortlisted) tells the story of Muslim Nanzeen, who arrives in London in 1985 via an arranged marriage to an older man who has a low-grade clerical job. Nanzeen uncomplainingly meets her husband's demands and makes the best of her isolation in Britain. Gradually, as she makes friends, has children, and takes on sewing work, she begins to understand the politics of race in the community she lives in. She falls in love, and moves towards a point where she can reject her earlier passivity. Letters from her sister back home in Bangladesh, who has made a love match and whose life descends into social disgrace and poverty, counterpoint Nanzeen's story. The generosity, humour, and humanity of this novel allow us to sympathize with a range of characters including Nanzeen's self-important husband; and to see a much bigger political story in Nanzeen's personal odyssey.

V. S. Naipaul, Zadie Smith, Anita Desai  JR

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