Claustrophobia in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane: Negotiating the Past with the Present


  • Humaira Riaz
  • Asfandyar Shah



Claustrophobia, diaspora, migration, exile, identity, displacement


This article reworks the notion of “claustrophobia,” symbolically in relevance to expatriate fiction writing. Claustrophobia is an individual’s fear of being confined in an enclosed space. Qualitative in nature, this paper critically investigates Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (2003) that delineates a constant fear in the immigrant characters alienated from their host country. Globalisation owes much to provide rationale for the current study. Within the larger context of Diaspora, Sarup’s notion of migration, with both negative and positive implications, is used as a theoretical framework to study the juncture of expatriate desire of home and examine how exile causes an irrational fear entrapping immigrants in the wake of socio-cultural and economic differences. The present study refers to it as a state of “being ambivalent” and concludes that exile (forced or by choice) though deadening, regenerates life for those who exercise their energies to combat their existing situations. For others, it proves fatal. The study significantly provides an insight into South Asian culture and norms in comparison to British culture and through Ali’s work challenges the allegation against women’s writings being limited in experience, non-scientific and “womanly.