Vol. 4 Num 21 Wed. June 18, 2003  
Front Page

Monica still seeks visa to Dhaka

The government is yet to show any reason for refusing visa to Monica Ali, the acclaimed Bangladeshi-born young novelist, by the Bangladesh High Commission in the UK.

But Monica has not lost hope. She is still "hoping to go to the country which she left at the age of three."

Monica Ali has been voted as UK's best young novelist in the Granta list and is being hailed in literary circles as the new Zadie Smith. This half-Bangladeshi, half-British is denied a visa simply because she wrote 'writer' on her visa form, according to The Hindustan Times.

Daughter of a Bangladeshi father and a British mother, Monica's debut novel, Brick Lane, was picked up by the publishers, Doubelday, on the basis of the first two chapters. Immediately this mother of two became the talk of Britain's book trade.

Brick Lane is the story of a Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen, who, after her marriage to a man twice her age, moves to London from rural Bangladesh and discovers the city on her own.

On the other hand is her younger sister, Hasina who runs away from home for love. The book traces the stories of these two sisters. Autobiographical, per se, it is not, but yes, Monica has drawn on her various experiences.

"The inter-generational conflict between first and second generation immigrants is a good example of this. The dreams of 'home' which run through the novel hold deep resonance for me. I also drew on my father's story telling," says the writer who lives with her management consultant husband in South London.

Monica would not like to call her novel a "multi-cultural melting pot sort of affair," because her whole purpose behind the book was to look at one small section of the Muslim and Asian community in Britain and explore it in detail."

Now that has been accomplished in Brick Lane, she is working on her second novel, about which she is hesitant to say anything. Hopefully, by the time she completes that, her status as a writer would help her find a way to Bangladesh.

Monica Ali