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Brick Lane: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, May 25, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
From the day of her birth, Nazneen is reminded how she is a puppet of fate. She dutifully leaves her small Bangladeshi village and goes to live in Brick Lane, the Bengali enclave of London, after her arranged marriage to Chanu, an educated but pompous and ineffectual man twice her age. She acts as a traditional, dutiful, and useful wife. After accepting whatever cards fate deals her, however, she casts a critical eye at the actions of her friends, her sister and her mother. She questions whether she can actually control her life. She starts to break free, first with small subtle acts of rebellion and then an affair. Finally, with the interests of her children in mind, she takes a giant step toward becoming her own woman. Interspersed throughout the story line are letters to Nazneen from her sister Hasina, who strikes out on her own in Bangladesh and, through good times and bad, forges a life of her own.
The writing style is colorful and descriptive. The reader can smell the spices wafting through the hallways, view the multicultural clutter of a shabby and overcrowded apartment, and share the confusion and outrage that simmer in Brick Lane due to cultural, religious, and racial prejudice. Each character is carefully crafted and brought to life. Ali peels back the surface layers of Chanu to reveal his inner doubts and disallusionment. The secondary characters such as the starchy Dr. Azad, the crafty hypochondriac Mrs. Islam, and the Britishized Razia, are depicted with a deft touch. There are only two points in the novel that could be improved upon.Read more ›
Following custom, Nazneen dutifully accepts marriage to the much older Chanu. Nazneen is an obedient wife, settled now in her London flat, her homesickness brightened by letters from Hasina, Nazneen's sister, who flaunts tradition by marrying for love. Over the years, the differences in their worlds are apparent, as the letters they exchange reflect their diverse paths. Through their letters, Nazneen examines her days as mother and wife, governed by minutiae, while Hasina is often at the mercy of changing circumstances.
Bengali lives are governed by strict traditions. While eyes watch and tongues wag with gossip, most of the women shun Westernization. Still, there is a profound cultural disturbance beneath the surface of the Bengali's world. It is nearly impossible to make a decent living; most are forced to work demeaning jobs to support their households, regardless of education and among the young people, there is a growing unrest. Some embrace the new lifestyle, while others are outraged by the implicit denial of Islamic tradition.
Nazneen is patient, wedded to her fate, but the couple's two daughters are a constant irritation to Chanu, especially the oldest, who exhibits the usual teenage angst.Read more ›
With warmth and sensitivity, author Ali draws us into Nazneen's world, showing it in all its earthy details. The reader sees her increasingly cluttered apartment, hears the constant excuses and boasts from Chanu, gets lost with her on a walk in the city, and feels Nazneen's confusion and frustration with the isolation of her life, as she continues to act the dutiful wife, cutting Chanu's corns and trimming his nose hair while planning mini-rebellions. Her sister, eventually alone in Dhaka, struggles to support herself, doing whatever she has to do to stay alive in a culture in which her life has no value. But, as their mother once said, "If God wanted us to ask questions, he would have made us men."
Speaking directly to the reader in unpretentious but vividly descriptive prose, Ali recreates the minutiae of Nazneen's life, showing how the seemingly unimportant decisions she begins to make acquire new meanings in her life.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this book freshman or sophomore year in college, and I remember that while I didn't always understand what the plot was detailing (blame my lack of historical knowledge), I... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This book is very forgettable and unnecessarily dense. The writing is mediocre and the characters are unlikable. Do not waste your time with this.Published 2 months ago by M. Mendez
Good book but a bit hard to read for a Scandinavian. Not always easy to understand reference's - to stuff that people from Bengal knows easilyPublished 5 months ago by KARL-ERIK JOHANSSON
It took me a long time to read this book. It was very easy to put it down and do something else.Published 8 months ago by Monica
By the end I felt I knew and loved these people. Wonderful story of co-mingling cultures and the "two kinds of love."Published 10 months ago by Amy Jo
Loved following the journey of a woman from her country of origin to a new life of her own choosing.Published 11 months ago by grammaj
A very good book dealing with contemporary issues. It is not strictly a highly unique story, but it is narrated well and is a good read. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Subhabrata Sanyal
Endearing portrait of a girl's journey into adulthood...lessons about loss, love and relationships.Published 13 months ago by G. M. Severs