Monica Ali

Monica Ali was born in Dhaka in 1967, and came with her parents to England when she was 3. Her mother is English and her father Bangladeshi. She grew up in Bolton but has spent most of her life in London. She attended Bolton Girls' School and Wadham College, Oxford. She is married to a management consultant. She worked in publishing and design Co. before having their two children. 

She started to write during the brief periods when her son and daughter were both asleep. She was named one of Granta's "Best Young British Novelists" in 2003. Her first novel, Brick Lane was published by Doubleday in the summer of 2003 which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2003.

The novel caused controversy within the Bangladeshi community in Britain because of what certain groups perceived as negative portrayal of people from the Sylhet region. Parts of the community were opposed to plans by Ruby Films to film parts of the novel in the Brick Lane area, and formed the "Campaign Against Monica Ali's Film Brick Lane". The film, starring well-known Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee, was successfully made and distributed both in the UK and internationally.

The campaign was allegedly supported by Germaine Greer, who wrote that: "As British people know little and care less about the Bangladeshi people in their midst, their first appearance as characters in an English novel had the force of a defining caricature ... Some of the Sylhetis of Brick Lane did not recognise themselves. Bengali Muslims smart under an Islamic prejudice that they are irreligious and disorderly, the impure among the pure, and here was a proto-Bengali writer with a Muslim name, portraying them as all of that and more." Greer's involvement has angered some within the British literary community. Salman Rushdie has called it "philistine, sanctimonious, and disgraceful, but ... not unexpected".
Activists told The Guardian they intended to burn copies of Ali's book during a rally to be held on July 30. But the demonstration was uneventful.

A review by Sukhdev Sandhu in the Guardian starts with an intriguing sentence, 'Bricklane used to be the home of the dead.' Full review is here.

Her new novel In the Garden is coming out soon. Our best wishes are with her.

By The Editor

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