Young Achievers - Monica Ali

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  • Updated: Nov 06, 2012 12:12 IST

Monica Ali is the daughter of English and Bangladeshi parents. She came to England aged three years, her first home being Bolton in Greater Manchester, and later studied at Oxford University. Her first novel, Brick Lane (2003), is an epic saga about a Bangladeshi family living in the UK, and explores the British immigrant experience. It has been shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

She studied politics, philosophy and economics at Wadham College, Oxford. She worked in publishing, design and branding before having children, and started to write whenever her son and daughter 'could be persuaded to synchronize their naps'. Her novel, Brick Lane, is published by Doubleday in the UK. Monica Ali lives in London and was named in 2003 by Granta magazine as one of twenty 'Best of Young British Novelists'.

Did you know?

VS Naipaul's classic A House for Mr Biswas is Monica Ali's all-time favourite read. She calls it "his masterpiece" and says, "I love the blend of comedy and tragedy, and every time I read it, I ache afresh for Biswas."


Date of Birth: October 20, 1967
Place of Birth: Dhaka, Bangaldesh
Nationality: British Asian
Parents: Syal's parents emigrated to Britain from New Delhi in 1961
Education: BA with Honors, Oxford, 1989
Profession: Writer
Achievements All awards for Brick Lane
2003: Brit Book Awards Literary Fiction Award
2003: Brit Book Awards Newcomer of Year
2003: WH Smith People's Choice Award

The other side

Family: Ali reportedly said how Iris Murdoch's The Bell had a big effect on her as a child. "I was ten years old, I think, when my mother took me to our local town library and, instead of leading me as usual to the children’s or ‘young adults’ sections, headed for the main fiction department and selected this for me. I felt as if I had been initiated."

Said What...

The Observer: "The publication of her debut novel is something of an event. But it has a lot to prove. Surely, Brick Lane can't be that good? Actually, it's better."

The Times: "Ali has an impressive command of her story, but her real gift is in the richness of the lives that she has created... very entertaining cast of comic characters."

Literary Review: "Enthralling. As a first novel, it is exceptional."


also read

Young Achievers - Sandip Verma

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