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In the Kitchen

A Novel

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Description

Monica Ali, nominated for the Man Booker Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, has written a follow-up to Brick Lane that will further establish her as one of England's most compelling and original voices.

Gabriel L ightfoot is an enterprising man from a northern E ngland mill town, making good in London. As executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial H otel, he is trying to run a tight kitchen. But his integrity, to say nothing of his sanity, is under constant challenge from the competing demands of an exuberant multinational staff, a gimlet-eyed hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning a move to a restaurant of his own. D espite the pressures, all his hard work looks set to pay off.

Until a worker is found dead in the kitchen's basement. It is a small death, a lonely death -- but it is enough to disturb the tenuous balance of Gabe's life.

Elsewhere, Gabriel faces other complications. His father is dying of cancer, his girlfriend wants more from their relationship, and the restaurant manager appears to be running an illegal business under Gabe's nose.

Enter L ena, an eerily attractive young woman with mysterious ties to the dead man. U nder her spell, Gabe makes a decision, the consequences of which strip him naked and change the course of the life he knows -- and the future he thought he wanted.

Readers and reviewers have been stunned by the breadth of humanity in Monica Ali's fiction. S he is compared to D ickens and called one of three British novelists who are "the voice of a generation" by Time magazine. In the Kitchen is utterly contemporary yet has all the drama and heartbreak of a great nineteenth-century novel. Ali is sheer pleasure to read, a truly magnificent writer.

Publishers Weekly Review

27 April 2009 – SignatureReviewed by Patricia VolkArestaurant kitchen is a functional substitute for hell. Flames leap, plates fly—knives and fingers, too. They're also the default place immigrants, legal and otherwise, find work. At London's Imperial Hotel, the setting for Monica Ali's In the Kitchen, nobody speaks the same language and everybody is underpaid. Ali, acclaimed author of Brick Lane, nails the killer heat, killer fights and lethal grease buildup, all of it supervised by a “simmering culinary Heathcliff,” Gabriel Lightfoot, executive chef.Lightfoot dropped out of school at 16 to begin paying his kitchen dues, working crazy hours with crazy people while studying food chemistry and Brillat-Savarin. Along the way, he picked up scarred hands and a ravaged psyche. At 24, given his own restaurant, it went straight up his nose. Now, almost 20 years later, two wealthy Londoners have agreed to back Gabriel in a new restaurant, Lightfoot's, where he'll serve “Classic French, precisely executed. Rognons de veau dijonnaise, poussin en cocotte Bonne Femme, tripes à la mode de Caen.” In postmodern balsamic-drenched London, Gabriel is confident traditional French is poised for a comeback. Then the naked corpse of a Ukrainian night porter is discovered in the Imperial's basement, his head in a pool of blood. There is no one to claim the body. The ripple-free effect of a human death unhinges Gabriel. He develops a voluptuous need to self-sabotage. Visual manifestations include a Dr. Strangelove arm tic, shaking limbs and violent bald-spot scratching. Gabriel cheats on his fiancée and lies to his lover. The story is told in the third person, but through Gabriel's point of view. Intimacy juggles distance: “After a certain point, he could not stop himself. His desire was a foul creature that climbed on his back and wrapped its long arms around his neck.”Ali is brilliant at showing loss and adaptation in a polyglot culture. Her descriptions of the changing peoplescape are fresh. But inside Gabriel's head is not the most compelling place to be. A tragic nonhero, he thinks with his “one-eyed implacable foe.” It does not help that a recurring dream crumbles him, and since Gabriel doesn't understand the dream, neither does the reader. It assumes an unsustainable importance. You can play Freud or you can turn the page.Ali is not plot-averse: she provides a mysterious death, a hotel sex-trade scam, a slave-labor scheme, missing money and a dying parent. Yet Lightfoot is a character in search of a motive. It's a tribute to Ali that we care. Here is a true bastard, ravaged and out of control. In the Kitchen has the thud and knock of life—inexplicable, impenetrable, not sewn up at all. As Gabriel's lover is fond of saying: “Tchh.” Patricia Volk is the author, most recently, of the memoir Stuffed and the novel To My Dearest Friends(both from Knopf).
In the Kitchen
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  • 12,99 €
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: 16 June 2009
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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