New Ali

I’m very interested to read Monica Ali’s new novel, Alentejo Blue, which comes out in the United States next month. The Guardian already has a review, and the chief complaint seems to be that this book is not Brick Lane–not the same voice, not the same ‘colorful’ characters, not the same structure, etc.

All the characters bow off too hurriedly, little sketches that never get fleshed out, people glimpsed from a train that is moving too quickly through a strange landscape. Even if you enjoy the ride, you can’t help wishing that Monica Ali had chosen to write about somewhere she knew better, or wanted to know better.

As I was reading the piece, I kept waiting for the appearance of the word “inauthentic”–the word that seems to be the sole criterion by which Ali’s work is judged.