Not reading Brick Lane


Benwell B, Procter J & Robinson G (2011) Not reading Brick Lane. New Formations, 73, pp. 64-90.

When someone becomes or does not become a reader - and how we make a claim to or refuse these kinds of identity - clearly matters within globalised cultures, where the challenges of literary representation quickly become problems of cultural misrepresentation. Yet precisely because not reading would appear to amount to nothing, its significance remains unexplored. In order to trace the conjunctural and multiple meanings of not reading, this essay explores the embattled reception surrounding Monica Ali's novel Brick Lane (2003) and its adaptation into film (2007), and locates not reading within a longer history of book controversies that is overshadowed by the Rushdie Affair. Our paper argues that, far from mere negation, not reading is an intensely productive site of cross-cultural negotiation and conflict without which the contemporary significance of global readerships and reading acts makes only partial sense.

Not reading; book controversies; Monica Ali; Brick Lane; Rushdie Affair; hierarchies of reading

New Formations: Volume 73

Publication date31/12/2011
Publication date online2011
PublisherLawrence and Wishart
Publisher URL