In the Kitchen by Monica Ali

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Monica Ali, nominated for the Man Booker Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, has written a follow-up to Brick Lane that will further establish her as one of England's most compelling and original voices.

Gabriel L ightfoot is an enterprising man from a northern E ngland mill town, making good in London. As executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial H otel, he is trying to run a tight kitchen. But his integrity, to say nothing of his sanity, is under constant challenge from the competing demands of an exuberant multinational staff, a gimlet-eyed hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning a move to a restaurant of his own. D espite the pressures, all his hard work looks set to pay off.

Until a worker is found dead in the kitchen's basement. It is a small death, a lonely death -- but it is enough to disturb the tenuous balance of Gabe's life.

Elsewhere, Gabriel faces other complications. His father is dying of cancer, his girlfriend wants more from their relationship, and the restaurant manager appears to be running an illegal business under Gabe's nose.

Enter L ena, an eerily attractive young woman with mysterious ties to the dead man. U nder her spell, Gabe makes a decision, the consequences of which strip him naked and change the course of the life he knows -- and the future he thought he wanted.

Readers and reviewers have been stunned by the breadth of humanity in Monica Ali's fiction. S he is compared to D ickens and called one of three British novelists who are "the voice of a generation" by Time magazine. In the Kitchen is utterly contemporary yet has all the drama and heartbreak of a great nineteenth-century novel. Ali is sheer pleasure to read, a truly magnificent writer.

About Monica Ali

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Monica Ali was born October 20, 1967. She is a British writer of Bangladeshi origin. She is the author of Brick Lane, her debut novel, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2003.
Published June 16, 2009 by Scribner. 449 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for In the Kitchen

Kirkus Reviews

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The turbulent, multicultural London backdrop is the same, but the dutiful Muslim wife in transition, who drove the action of Ali's brilliant debut (Brick Lane, 2003, etc.), has been replaced by a very different kind of protagonist: a talented chef in midlife crisis.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

The New York Times

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Monica Ali’s third novel takes on multicultural postmodern Britain.

Aug 09 2009 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

The Guardian

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Though Ali's prose is often beautiful and there are flashes of Brick Lane's buoyant comedy, Gabe's disintegration never quite engages the reader, who is left feeling better informed but oddly unaffected.

May 02 2009 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

The Guardian

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Ali has done her homework on restaurant kitchens and weaving, and uses both as sustained metaphors for contrasting visions of society: the cohesive social fabric nostalgically remembered by Gabe's father and his peers, and the melting pot of Gabe's kitchen in the contemporary world of deregulated...

Apr 17 2009 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

The Wall Street Journal

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A typical example is Gabriel’s long, pedantic explanation of the chemistry of custard to his Jamaican executive sous chef, Oona, his “right-hand woman,” who has a gold tooth and “cheeks as fat as ripe black figs.” She has told him that Suleiman, the short, bow-legged Indian who “looks like a loss...

Jun 13 2009 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

The Independent

Gabe loves his red-haired jazz singer girlfriend, but he has not told her about the mysterious Lena, an escaped sex slave and seriously damaged waif with whom he's having obsessive, guilty sex in the guise of protection.

May 01 2009 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

After all, much of Gabe’s neurosis and guilt stems from his Englishness, his ho-hum middle-class worries about tea and football and cancer in the face of Lena’s concerns about human trafficking, poverty and horrific violence.

Aug 18 2017 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

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May 07 2009 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

There is one central point that the talented English author, Monica Ali, makes with her new novel, In the Kitchen: Whether it’s London or an industrial town called Blantwistle, commerce has changed Great Britain.

Aug 24 2009 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

Bookmarks Magazine

Her second novel, Alentejo Blue ( 3 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2006), centers on the lives of British expats living in a small Portuguese village.

Apr 19 2009 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

Book Forum

In describing the intricate hierarchy that prevails in the restaurant of the Imperial Hotel, the complex choreography it takes to pull off an evening’s dinner service, and the intensity of the personal interactions that underlie the professional.

Aug 18 2017 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

California Literary Review

Gabe sleeping with Lena and neglecting to tell his girlfriend – and soft-shoe polemic.

Aug 13 2009 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

The Kitchn

She leads tours, teaches hands-on cooking classes, blogs and is the author of a charming book called Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen.

Aug 05 2009 | Read Full Review of In the Kitchen

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