I finished Brick Lane last night and my first impression is that it was a very descriptive book, which conjured up the image of an east London street, which has a history of multi-national immigrants living there. Today and in Ali's book, it is a Bangladeshi-Sylheti community, where racial and religious conflict are never far away. The older characters are well-fleshed out, not so much in regards to Nazneen and Karim, which is a disappointment. Maybe Ali decided that as they were centre stage, they didn't need as much character - I felt that they were a bit lifeless in comparison to the rest.
It is a good book, though I must admit I should have read it during the day when I am awake, rather than late at night when I am trying to read two chapters before I sleep. Therefore, I found it too protracted, especially as it is a large book. I also found that some of the plot was over described - maybe a little 'show' rather than 'tell' would have been better. Nevertheless, I think it is a book that I will come back to and I would like to see how it translated to the big screen.