Monica Ali - In the Kitchen (2 stars)

Monica Ali - In the Kitchen



This third novel from Monica Brick Lane Ali ticks plenty zeitgeist boxes: multiculturalism in today’s Britain, the seedy business of human trafficking and the apparently exciting world of top-class chefs. But despite some nice writing, In the Kitchen is riddled with problems, both structurally and in terms of character.

Gabe Lightfoot is executive chef at the Imperial Hotel in London, with a beautiful girlfriend, his own restaurant in the pipeline and everything peachy, until a porter turns up dead in the hotel kitchen’s basement, and Gabe becomes obsessed with a mysterious Eastern European girl he sees at the scene. The unravelling of Gabe’s life is handled clumsily and remains utterly unbelievable to the end, while the forays of the plot into the forced labour and prostitution of many immigrants to Britain feel overworked and force-fed. Well-intentioned but preachy and, unforgivably for Ali, full of stereotypes. This is a seriously flawed novel.

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