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No (Wo)man's Land - The Making of a Room of One's Own in Monica Ali's Brick Lane


  • Wallentin Richardsson

Summary, in English

In this essay, I uncover and examine a number of different strategies applied toward self-realization in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (2003). I filter Ali’s modern day bildungsroman through the lens of Virginia Woolf’s understanding of self-realization as a gendered process as well as through Homi K. Bhabha’s postcolonial theory. I argue that Nazneen, the protagonist of the novel, is subject to a binary understanding of gender that fuels a construction of women as inferior. Furthermore, the dominant Western culture pressures Nazneen to see herself through the eyes of the British. However, inside this skewed power structure, Nazneen actively seeks out activities in which to lose herself. By experiencing moments of life while not thinking about her sex or her ethnicity, she sporadically transcends the otherwise impeding social structure. Brick Lane is consequently a vivid portrait of self-discovery in the modern era containing an ‘other’ that is not only a victim, but also an agent, within a skewed power structure.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • The Self and Society/Emancipation/Gender/Hybridity/Androgyny/Woolf/Bhabha


  • Cian Duffy (Professor)