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Library Journal
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This latest from Bangladeshi-born, UK-raised Ali, a Granta Best of Young British Novelists, features 26-year-old medical student Yasmin Ghorami, who's engaged to posh Joe Sangster. To Yasmin's relief, Joe's elegant mother quickly embraces her own not-as-polished mom, but family complications—and Joe's less-than-devoted ways—quickly threaten the romance. With a 125,000-copy first printing.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Two London families—one Bengali, one White—collide spectacularly when their two eldest children decide to marry. Yasmin Ghorami is a people-pleaser. At 26, doing what others expect is so ingrained in her that when her younger brother, Arif, asks her what she hoped to do before she became a doctor like their father, she can’t even remember if she ever had separate dreams of her own. She follows the rules of her family and her faith. She still lives with her parents and Arif in London, but not for long: She’s about to be married to Joe Sangster, a fellow doctor. Her parents, both Muslims with differing degrees of religiosity, thwarted tradition and married for love, and Yasmin is convinced that marrying Joe is her own romantic destiny. As the wedding plans coalesce, Yasmin has to deal with her future mother-in-law, Harriet, a Gloria Steinem–esque figure who is one of the leading feminist writers and thinkers in England. Harriet’s urbane, liberal fetishizing of Yasmin’s family—especially her homemaker mother—is a destabilizing influence, as is Harriet’s possessive relationship with Joe. Then there’s Arif’s aimlessness and his increasing awareness of the racism, both blatant and microaggressive, in his and Yasmin’s daily lives. Yasmin looks to Joe for stability, but he’s got secrets of his own. Before long, Yasmin is forced to reexamine the foundations of her whole life before the cracks threaten to bring everything she knows crumbling down. Ali’s immersive novel, skipping deftly between several points of view, might be termed a comedy of manners of Britain’s urban middle class, but the comedy here has teeth: Though the book treats its characters with affection, the racial dynamics are conveyed with real, heart-rending bite. A keen look at London life, relationships (especially interracial ones)—and a return to Ali’s most celebrated territory. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The opening sentence from Anna Karenina might equally apply to the particular brand of dysfunction that Ali (Untold Story, 2011) explores in this colorful tale of strained relationships. The story opens in media res with doctor-in-training Yasmin Ghorami getting ready for her wedding to Joe Sangster, a fellow professional at a London hospital. But first the parents must meet. Yasmin worries that Joe’s mother, a sexually liberated firecracker of a feminist, is sure to upset the conservative Ghoramis. The cascading sequence of incidents from this first parental meet-and-greet steamrolls over both families and exposes decades-old secrets. Ali’s strength lies in exploring the many ways in which class complications manifest—Yasmin’s immigrant doctor father, Shoukat, worries about his own humble upbringing while frowning upon his son’s relationship with Lucy, a receptionist. The finale is rich, bawdy, and bold, a dramatization of the many ways we fail those closest to us and build lives on shifting sediments of buried feelings. And yet we live for love.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Two London familiesone Bengali, one Whitecollide spectacularly when their two eldest children decide to marry.Yasmin Ghorami is a people-pleaser. At 26, doing what others expect is so ingrained in her that when her younger brother, Arif, asks her what she hoped to do before she became a doctor like their father, she cant even remember if she ever had separate dreams of her own. She follows the rules of her family and her faith. She still lives with her parents and Arif in London, but not for long: Shes about to be married to Joe Sangster, a fellow doctor. Her parents, both Muslims with differing degrees of religiosity, thwarted tradition and married for love, and Yasmin is convinced that marrying Joe is her own romantic destiny. As the wedding plans coalesce, Yasmin has to deal with her future mother-in-law, Harriet, a Gloria Steinemesque figure who is one of the leading feminist writers and thinkers in England. Harriets urbane, liberal fetishizing of Yasmins familyespecially her homemaker motheris a destabilizing influence, as is Harriets possessive relationship with Joe. Then theres Arifs aimlessness and his increasing awareness of the racism, both blatant and microaggressive, in his and Yasmins daily lives. Yasmin looks to Joe for stability, but hes got secrets of his own. Before long, Yasmin is forced to reexamine the foundations of her whole life before the cracks threaten to bring everything she knows crumbling down. Alis immersive novel, skipping deftly between several points of view, might be termed a comedy of manners of Britains urban middle class, but the comedy here has teeth: Though the book treats its characters with affection, the racial dynamics are conveyed with real, heart-rending bite.A keen look at London life, relationships (especially interracial ones)and a return to Alis most celebrated territory. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
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Booker-nominated Ali (Brick Lane) returns with the complex yet breezy account of a 26-year-old London medical student who questions whether she really wants to be a doctor or if she’s merely carrying out her father’s wishes. Yasmin Ghorami’s family is Indian and Muslim, and she is engaged to white upper-class colleague Joe Sangster, whose mother, Harriet, is a famous feminist activist. As wedding planning commences with Harriet and Yasmin’s mother, Anisah, at the helm, tensions rise between the couple, but it turns out religious and cultural differences are the least of the roadblocks. The delicate web of familial relationships and drama is held up by a vibrant supporting cast: Yasmin’s underachieving brother and his girlfriend’s unplanned pregnancy; Anisah’s midlife awakening to her own power, and Yasmin’s father’s increasing alcohol use and isolation as he clings to his conservative religious beliefs. Everything leads toward the reveal of a dark secret held by the Ghoramis that threatens to undermine the engagement. The characters’ brisk discussions on politics, culture, and race skate over ideological divides, the substance of which emerges in dramatic irony and creates a textured portrayal of an immigrant family. This is sure to please Ali’s fans and win some new ones. (May)

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