by Monica Ali
I dislike this book. I find it quite dull, and I don't get what all the fuss is all about. It's about the experiences of a Bangladeshi woman who moved to England to marry in an arranged marriage. And I sympathised with her, I really did, but I couldn't empathise, if you understand my point.
If this book was meant to make me culturally sensitive or aware, it did not succeed in making me believe in the actions of a patriarchal society in which women have the same role they did in Britain 200 years ago. I hated Chanu, and his willingness to blame everything wrong in his life on racism, his overwhelming desire to return home and his unwillingness to integrate into society. I hated the situation that Nazneen's sister, Hasina, was placed in and the way in which she was treated in Bangladesh. Overall, I hated the situation that Nazneen was in, without any control over her own life.
Despite this, I do believe that the book gave me a different perspective to the events surrounding and immediately following 9/11. As a child at the time (either 10 or 11) all I understood was that all the adults were very upset and scared, even in our little corner of Wales, and that something truly terrible had occurred. People were screaming and shouting on the news all day long and everyone was on the alert. However, in my area, the number of Muslims, or even people of Asian decent is about zero, and I don't think I had the awareness that others living in bigger towns or cities would have been aware of. In this, the book showed me a perspective that I would never receive through the news or local society.
It gave me an insight, but I found it difficult to get through. Not necessarily a bad thing, and I appreciated the discussions it provoked, as to when someone becomes English or British, and the difficulties or retaining or losing one's culture... This I honestly found a lot more interesting than the book, and if I'm honest, out of choice I wouldn't read it again.
So Catrin Says