A mess in the kitchen

Over at The National, Ed Lake reviews Monica Ali's latest, "In the Kitchen," and is not impressed. 
In the Kitchen is a sort of state-of-the-nation gothic, an indigestible bolus of earnest social commentary wrapped in multiple sugar coatings, all borrowed from the BBC at its pandering worst. There are would-be celebrity chefs, blunt-talking entrepreneurs, and Hotel Babylon-style peeks at the dirty laundry of the hospitality business. The plot never strays far from last year’s talking points: the hubris of credit-fuelled hedonism, the problem of tracking immigrants, the Very Real and Legitimate Concerns of Britain’s White Working Class. A character in an Anthony Powell novel once complained that reading WH Auden was like paging through back issues of New Statesman; In The Kitchen is a bit like getting stuck in an interminable rerun of What the Papers Say.

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.