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 been published, Ali's name appeared on the 20 Best Young British Novelists Under 40 list, in the prestigious literary journal Granta. Once the novel was published in May 2003, it received very positive reviews. The novel was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker prize, but did not win the award.
Brick Lane was adapted into a film in 2007. The production company wanted to film the movie adaptation in the Brick Lane neighborhood of East London but this plan was opposed by some local Bangladeshi residents. Some individuals felt that the novel did not portray the community in a positive light, and criticized Ali due to her not having been part of that community. A campaign was started to block filming in the area. Ali did not comment on this campaign, but other writers and thinkers such as Germaine Greer and Salman Rushdie contributed to the argument. In the end, fears of potential violence led to the exterior scenes being filmed elsewhere.