Brick Lane is the first novel by Monica Ali. Despite being the work of an unknown writer, the novel was hotly anticipated. She earned a book deal with a significant advance based on some preliminary chapters. In January 2003, before the novel had...
Monica Ali was born on October 20, 1967 in Dhaka, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Her father was a Bangladeshi man who worked as a teacher, and her mother was English and worked as a counselor. The interracial marriage between Ali's parents was controversial. In 1971, civil war erupted in East Pakistan. Ali was 3 years old when her family moved to England in 1971. They settled in Bolton (near Manchester), where Ali attended school. She went on study at Oxford, where she graduated from Wadham College. Ali completed a degree in an interdisciplinary program combining philosophy, politics, and economics.
After graduating, Ali began to work in the marketing department of a small publishing house. She would go on to subsequent jobs as a sales and marketing manager at the publishing house Verso, and at a branding agency. Ali married Simon Torrance, a consultant, and their first child was born in 1999. After the birth of this child, a son named Felix, Ali did not return to work, and began to experiment with writing fiction for the first time. She was initially interested in short fiction, but found the short length constrained the stories she wanted to tell.
In 2001, Ali gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Shumi. Shortly after Shumi's birth, Ali's father died. The loss prompted her to reflect on family, history, and the need to not postpone living one's dreams. She began writing the manuscript of Brick Lane. As a first-time novelist, Ali was curious about feedback, so she showed some chapters to a friend in the publishing industry. The reception was very positive, and Ali was offered a book deal within days. She spent most of 2002 working on the rest of her manuscript, and Brick Lane was published in May 2003.
After the success of Brick Lane, Ali continued her writing career. Her other published books are Alentejo Blue (2006), In the Kitchen (2009), and Untold Story (2011). She lives in London with her family.