Brick Lane

      Monica Ali
Brick Lane

The literary debut of a huge storytelling talent

Still in her teenage years, Nazneen finds herself in an arranged marriage with a disappointed man who is twenty years older. Away from the mud and heat of her Bangladeshi village, home is now a cramped flat in a high-rise block in London's East End. Nazneen knows not a word of English, and is forced to depend on her husband. But unlike him she is practical and wise, and befriends a fellow Asian girl Razia, who helps her understand the strange ways of her adopted new British home.

Nazneen keeps in touch with her sister Hasina back in the village. But the rebellious Hasina has kicked against cultural tradition and run off in a 'love marriage' with the man of her dreams. When he suddenly turns violent, she is forced into the degrading job of garment girl in a cloth factory.

Confined in her flat by tradition and family duty, Nazneen also sews furiously for a living, shut away with her buttons and linings - until the radical...

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    In the Kitchen

      Monica Ali
In the Kitchen

At the once-splendid Imperial Hotel, chef Gabriel Lightfoot is trying to run a tight kitchen. But his integrity and his sanity are under constant challenge from an exuberantly multinational staff, a gimlet-eyed hotel management, and business partners with whom he is planning a new venture. Despite the pressure, his hard work looks set to pay off.Until the discovery of a porter's dead body in the kitchen appears to tip the scales. It is a small death, a lonely death -- but it is enough to disturb the tenuous balance of Gabe's life. In The Kitchen is Monica Ali's stunning follow up to Brick Lane. It is both the portrait of a man pushed to the edge, and a wry and telling look into the melting pot which is our contemporary existence. It confirms Monica Ali not only as a great modern storyteller but also an acute observer of the dramas of modern life.

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    Alentejo Blue

      Monica Ali
Alentejo Blue

An evocative tale of belonging and exile by one of Britain's best young novelists.

Alentejo Blue is the story of the Portuguese village of Mamarrosa told through the lives of those who live there and those who are passing through - men and women, children and old people, locals, tourists and expatriates.

For some, such as Teresa, a beautiful, dreamy village girl, it is a place from which to escape; for others - the dysfunctional Potts family - it is a way of running from trouble (but not eluding it). Vasco, a café owner who has never recovered from the death of his American wife, clings to a notion that his years in America make him superior to the other villagers. One English tourist makes Mamarrosa the subject of her fantasy of a new life, while for her compatriots, a young engaged couple, Mamarrosa is where their dreams finally fall apart.

At the book's opening an old man reflects on his long and troubled life in this beautiful and seemingly tranquil setting,...

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