In the summer of 2001, young British Asians took to the streets of Oldham and Burnley in the North of England to protest against perceived racial inequality in their neighbourhoods. In the popular British press, these events were reported as illustrative of the disconnection of young British Asians from wider British society, driven by outside ‘foreign’ influences. For Ash Amin, however, the protests by young British Muslims mark the emergence of a subcultural force refusing to remain hidden. Importantly, they do not mark distance from Britishness, alienation or confusion, but are, rather, evidence of the very secure sense of citizenship held by this British-born/raised generation. Monica Ali's first novel, Brick Lane, is imbued with this spirit of defiance. Like Nadeem Aslam, Ali seems to straddle worlds of postcolonial fiction and contemporary British Asian literature. Her second novel, Alentejo Blue (2004), can be read as a conscious attempt to refuse to allow simplistic associations between ethnic authors and particular subject matter. For Ali, the possible politics behind such a departure needs to be contextualised within the reception of Brick Lane.
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