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Meet the Author

Meet the Author: Monica Ali

Monica Ali

Image (c) Yolande de Vries

Monica Ali is a bestselling writer whose work has been translated into 26 languages. She is the author of five books including Brick Lane, Alentejo Blue, In the Kitchen, Untold Story and, most recently, Love Marriage.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2003 was named as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. She was nominated for, amongst others, the Booker Prize, The George Orwell Prize, The Commonwealth Writers' Prize and in the US has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

You can find Monica's books on our catalogue.

  1. Who were your heroes as you were growing up and when did you first start to write?

If you’d told me, when I was a child, that it was possible that one day I would be a published author I’d have thought you were mad. I grew up poor. We didn’t have money to buy books. I borrowed books from the library and I was always escaping into novels. But I didn’t think people like me could write them and get them published. So I look back with a sense of awe and a little pride.

  1. You first came to prominence on the legendary 2003 Granta list of 20 of the Best Young British Novelists. What was it like to be chosen for that accolade and how do you feel about that experience looking back?

I wish I’d been able to enjoy the whole publication process more more. My children were very young at the time and though I felt very lucky that the book was published in so many countries, it often took me away from them. That was tough. I was thrilled, of course, that the book found its way to so many readers, but at the same time I was a little overwhelmed.

  1. Can you tell Suffolk readers a little about Love Marriage?

Yasmin Ghorami and Joe Sangster, both junior doctors, are engaged. He’s handsome, sensitive and kind (and rich too), but he cheats on her. Yasmin, shocks herself (she’s always been so good) by embarking on revenge sex with a colleague. She feels awful: at least Joe confessed, but she can’t bring herself to tell him what she’s done. What she doesn’t know is that Joe is a sex addict. He’s in therapy to try to understand this compulsion that fills him with self-loathing.

Then there’s all the complications of their two very different families coming together… What I want most is for people to enjoy the book, to find it humorous and entertaining and, above all, a good old-fashioned propulsive read.

  1. You have spoken in interviews about the hard graft of writing and the constant need for application. How do you know when you are on the right lines?

You don’t always know. Sometimes you have to keep pushing through. Sometimes the joy of writing a single decent sentence is enough.

  1. Do you have any ideas or manuscripts stashed away that may come to light in time? Is it true that writers should never throw anything away?

No, I think you have to be prepared to throw things away. Not every idea is a good idea.

  1. Is there anything you can share with us about your latest project?

I’m adapting Love Marriage for television with New Pictures. And absolutely loving the process.

  1. One book, piece of music or work of art that everyone should experience?

A House for Mr Biswas by V.S. Naipaul because it is the best tragi-comedy ever written. It’s also a sideways look at colonialism, race, and religion. And the story one man’s struggle to carve out, against the odds, his own place in the world. I first read it in my teens, and I still love it now.

  1. What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

I try to end each writing day before I run out of juice. It can be a long day or a short day. The point is to finish at a point where I think I know what I want to write next, so that I don’t come to the desk ‘cold’. But I don’t always manage that. It’s very tempting to keep going when you’re on a roll.

  1. Can you tell us one thing about yourself that your readers may not know?

I practice Transcendental Meditation.