In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen

A Novel

Book - 2009
Average Rating:
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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 further establishes her as one of England's most compelling and original voices.

Gabriel Lightfoot, an enterprising man from a northern English mill town, is making good in London. As executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial Hotel, he aims to run a tight kitchen. Though he's under constant challenge from the competing demands of an exuberantly multinational staff, a gimlet-eyed hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning a move to a restaurant of his own, all Gabe's hard work looks set to pay off.

Until, that is, 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.

Enter Lena, an eerily attractive young woman with mysterious ties to the dead man. Under 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.

With prose that "crackles with verve and vivacity" ( Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ) and "a truly Dickensian cast of characters" ( The Buffalo News ), Ali's "portrait of a middle-aged Holden Caulfield wandering the streets" ( The Plain Dealer ) is a sheer pleasure to read.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2009
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781416571698
9781416571681
141657168X
Branch Call Number: F ALI

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m
maipenrai
Jul 07, 2013

*** stars. Gabriel Lightfoot is an man from a northern England mill town, who has climbed to the position of executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial Hotel. Much of the beginning of the book involves the efforts of Gabe to run a successful kitchen. But his integrity, to say nothing of his sanity, is under constant challenge from the competing demands of a multinational staff, frustrating hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning a move to a restaurant of his own. Despite 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 seemingly "insignificant" death of a foreign worker - but it is enough to disturb the tenuous balance of Gabe's life. Outside of work, Gabriel faces other complications. His father is dying of cancer, his girlfriend wants more from their relationship, and there appears to an illegal business taking place in the hotel. Enter Lena, an attractive young emigrant woman with mysterious ties to the dead man and an horrendous history. Under her spell, Gabe makes a decision, the consequences of which change the course of the life he knows - and the future he thought he wanted. Throughout the book I kept wanting to interrupt Gabe and tell him to think about what he was doing. He makes so many poor choices and manages his priorities so badly, you want to wring his neck. Perhaps, however, this is precisely the goal of the author - to engage the reader to this degree of involvement in the progression of Gabe's life. To have you wonder, will he ever act wisely and find what is truly important for his life? recommend.

u
uncommonreader
Jul 27, 2012

This book is about the insanity of modern life featuring the multinational staff of a London kitchen. Good, but a little uneven.

e
emvokspl
Jul 24, 2012

Although I had difficulty getting through the third quarter of this story, I did enjoy the book. I spent about one hundred pages in the third quarter wondering where in the world the author was going regarding the decent into insanity, but the last 100 pages wraps up all the previous plot work. The ruined love relationship is even given an optimistic end in the last pages. This is not a story about the restaurant industry. A main element of the story deals with illegal immigrant labor and exploitation. Relationships also get explored as the chef comes to terms with his troubled relationships with his parents and sister. Going crazy and coming out the other side gives the chef perspective to better appreciate people around him, and, despite the limited result, act positively to stop the exploitation of undocumented immigrants.

wendybird Sep 29, 2010

Now that I've discovered her, I've got to read more by Ali. Though I was picking up just a fictional "cheftemonial", but this is so much more : part murder mystery, part family dynamics, part love ' n lust tale. Whatever the components, the author vividly & seemingly authentically sets up chef Gabriel Lightfoot's interior & exterior worlds, and wonderfully.

e
epiccolo
Mar 01, 2010

Neither the sytle not plot live up to the reputation of its author. Nor does it capture the world of restaurant kitchen's very vividly.

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