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.