Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Monica Ali's Brick Lane. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Brick Lane: Introduction
Brick Lane: Plot Summary
Brick Lane: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Brick Lane: Themes
Brick Lane: Quotes
Brick Lane: Characters
Brick Lane: Terms
Brick Lane: Symbols
Brick Lane: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Monica Ali
Historical Context of Brick Lane
Other Books Related to Brick Lane
- Full Title: Brick Lane
- When Written: 2003
- Where Written: London, England
- When Published: June 2, 2004
- Literary Period: Contemporary Literature, Migrant Literature
- Genre: Novel
- Setting: East Pakistan, late 1960s; Dhaka, Bangladesh, early nineties to early 2000s; London, early 90s to early 2000s
- Climax: Nazneen finishes paying the debt she and her husband, Chanu, owe to the corrupt and cruel Mrs. Islam, refusing, despite intimidation from the woman’s two thuggish sons, to hand over any more money in interest. This act of defiance gives Nazneen the courage to end her relationship with her lover, Karim, and tell Chanu that she will not return to Bangladesh with him but will, instead, be making a life for herself and her daughters in London.
- Point of View: Third-person limited following Nazneen, and first-person letters from the point of view of Hasina
Extra Credit for Brick Lane
The Bard of Bengal. As a self-proclaimed “educated man,” Chanu is always trying to instill in his daughters a love of Bangladesh and Bengali culture. With the pro-West Shahana, a character Monica Ali admits is based on her young self, he fails miserably, but Bibi is more interested. At one point in the novel, Chanu prompts his daughters as they recite the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore, a poet and musician often referred to as “the bard of Bengal.” The first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, he wrote everything from dance-dramas to essays to political tracts. Chanu’s political leanings mirror those of Tagore, who passionately advocated for independence and often wrote and spoke out against British colonial rule.
Muslin or daka. It is no coincidence that Hasina works in a garment factory in Dhaka, or that Nazneen and Razia make their livings as freelance seamstresses. Bangladesh has been a textile industry leader since the 16th century, when the city produced a large portion of the world’s silk and muslin. The latter was even referred to as “daka” in many markets, in homage to the Dhaka’s preeminence as a muslin producer. When the British East India Company conquered Bengal in 1757, the British began plundering Bengali raw materials and using them in their own textile factories in England, then selling the resulting fabrics back to Bengalis at exorbitant prices. Many areas of Bengal suffered economic collapse as a result.