Brick Lane, by Monica Ali, tells the story of a woman named Nazneen, who comes from a Bangladeshi village. She was born premature and her mother did not take her to a doctor, preferring to let Allah decide whether she would live or die. This story was told to her throughout her childhood in Bangladesh. This attitude was imprinted on Nazneen at a young age and the story revolves around her escaping this mental straitjacket. Obeying the traditions of her culture, Nazneen at the age of 18 betrothed to a Bengali man named Chanu that her parents choose for her and is forced to move to London with him. In London, Nazneen feels out of place and lonely, until she meets a man with whom she falls madly in love with. She decides to push fate aside and take control of her own life, by making the choice to start a relationship with this man behind her family's back. Nazneen finally begins to discover the attachment she feels toward her family and the hardships this sense of freedom brings to her. The book nicely displays Nazeen's development and shows how she grows as a character. In the beginning of the novel Nazneen is very shy, naive, and over powered, but towards the end she becomes much stronger and much more in-charge of her live. In the background of the story is the pre and post 9/11 lives of Muslim immigrants in the west provided from Nazneen's perspective.
From the moment I began to read this novel, I was absorbed into the life of Nazneen. Ali's descriptive writing makes one feel as if they alongside the character, going through her struggles and feeling her pain. I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy moving love stories, learning about new cultures, and experiencing the emotions of life. I very much enjoyed Monica Ali's cunning sense of metaphors, and her play on ideas. Monica has the power to make her audience physically sense her writing. I could smell the spices and feel Nazneen's disgust when observing Chanu's sloppiness. I had a difficult time putting it down, BUT there were parts that were somewhat dry, specially the letters :o( I loved how the details of London street-life are colored by Nazneen's lack of experience with the modern world. Brick Lane didn't wrap me up like some books do but the food descriptions made me very hungry, I rummaged through my freezer quite a few times and devoured samosas while reading this book :)
The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies are good books by Jhumpa Lahiri , very touching and quite true to the reality that immigrants and children of immigrants from any nationality have to face.