Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Tuesday, September 09, 2003  

"Nazneen's marriage is at the heart of this book, and Chanu, her husband, is its other leading character. He is a Biswas figure--earnest, probably more self-educated than formally schooled (he has a degree, or so he says, from Dhaka University), restless, yearning, and vulnerable, desperate to escape but tied to his destiny by the modesty of his ticket....

"Since the fine comic-pathetic lineage of Biswas sits so obviously behind Chanu, he can at times seem only a recognizable type, even a somewhat literary one; and Ali does not really deepen him as the novel progresses. Just as Mr. Biswas corresponded with something called the Edgware School of Journalism, so Chanu keeps framed certificates on his wall, including one from Morley College, where he attended evening classes on nineteenth-century thought--though, as he explains to Nazneen, the college did not actually give him a diploma: 'it's just directions to the school, but that's all they gave out. No certificates.' "

-- James Wood, making comparisons between VS Naipaul's A House For Mr Biswas and Monica Ali's Brick Lane in a review of Brick Lane in The New Republic.

posted by Jonathan | 11:56 AM 0 comments


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