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In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen

A Novel

  • reading group guide
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.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416571698 | 
  • May 2010
List Price $16.00
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Video

Meet Booker Prize Winning Author Monica Ali

Booker Prize-shortlisted author Monica Ali's long-awaited second novel brings readers into the vivid world of a London restaurant kitchen.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for In the Kitchen includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Monica Ali. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Amid the fading glory of the Imperial Hotel, embattled Executive Chef Gabriel Lightfoot tries to maintain his culinary integrity in the hotel’s restaurant, while managing an unruly but talented group of immigrant cooks. He must please the management of the hotel, recently purchased by an international conglomerate.

When the dead body of a Ukrainian porter is discovered in the restaurant cellar, the tenuous balance in Gabe’s life begins to slip. Adding to his stress, Gabe’s plan to open his own restaurant with two wealthy investors is hitting a critical stage, his father is diagnosed with cancer, and his girlfriend starts talking about a new level in their relationship. Meanwhile, Gabe convinces himself that Gleeson, the restaurant’s shifty floor manager, is using hotel property to conduct some sort of nefarious business.

With all this on his mind, Gabe encounters a young immigrant named Lena, a girl mysteriously tied to the death of the porter, and he makes a decision, the consequences of whi see more

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About the Author

Monica Ali
Photo Credit: Liz Emerson

Monica Ali

Monica Ali has been named by Granta as one of the twenty best young British novelists. She is the author of In the Kitchen, Alentejo Blue, and Brick Lane, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

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