On My Bookshelf

Brick LaneIf you’ve ever participated in a book club discussion with me, or if you’ve stopped at any time just to chat about books, then you likely already know that my favorite stories are those that focus on some aspect of the human condition—be that aspect something that mankind usually celebrates, like a wedding; or something sad, like the passing of a loved one.  I look at it this way: for the most part, the things that we’ll all experience in life have already been captured in some gem that exists out there in the literary world, so why not take advantage of those gems and read about them?  

You should also know that when I start a new book, my greatest hope for that work is that it can open up my mind to some aspect of life that I’d never considered before, or—if it’s something really outrageous—that I couldn’t have imagined even in my wildest dreams.  Such is the case with Brick Lane, an awesome read by British author Monica Ali.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003, this gem shares the experiences of Nazneen, a young Bangladeshi woman who moves to London in order to marry Chanu—a much older man who, while a very loving and well-read man, leaves much to be desired in Nazneen’s eyes. Nazneen interacts with a host of other characters, including her own young daughters and a beloved sister that, due to circumstances beyond her control, has to communicate her love and admiration to Nazneen from thousands of miles away.   

I greatly appreciate the novel if for no other reason than its discussion of fate, and whether fate is something that we can alter versus something that is thrust upon us, whether we like it or not.  The fact that Ali approaches the topic with such grace, while keeping the text grounded in Nazneen’s day-to-day dealings (without getting too philosophical, as some reads do) is astounding.  I highly recommend it, especially for those of you that like a little emotional drama thrown into the mix—which Ali certainly does before the novel ends.  If you really like the title, then you can also check out the 2007 film of the same name, directed by Sarah Gavron and starring Tannishtha Chatterjee as Nazneen and Satish Kaushik as Chanu.  

Be sure to stop in and let me know what you think!  Oh, and if you like this, you’ll also love The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.)

'Til next month!