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Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Brick Lane tells the story of Hazneen, who came to England from Bangladesh at the age of 18 for an arranged marriage to Chanu, who is both pompous and ineffectual. When she arrives, she can speak only two words of English, but falls into the role of dutiful wife and mother. Not only is she always an outsider, an immigrant to a foreign land, but her Bangladeshi roots keep her in a subserviant role in her marriage and family. Yet there is always that pull from the homeland. In Bangladesh, her sister, Hasina, had eloped with her lover, spurning her arranged marriage. This only resulted in heartbreak and tragedy. Monica Ali's debut novel delves into the landscape of love, family, and the yearning for a sense of belonging. Receiving mostly positive reviews, The Observer says of Brick Lane, "This highly evolved, accomplished book is a reminder of how exhilarating novels can be: it opened up a world whose contours I could recognise, but which I needed Monica Ali to make me understand." Brick Lane was a short list nominee for the 2003 Man Booker Prize.