Alentejo Blue is the story of the Portuguese village of Mamarrosa told through the lives of those who live there and those who are passing through men and women, children and old people, locals, tourists and expatriates. For some, such as Teresa, a beautiful, dreamy village girl, it is a place from which to escape; for others the dysfunctional Potts family it is a way of running from trouble (but not eluding it). Vasco, a cafe owner who has never recovered from the death of his American wife, clings to a notion that his years in America make him superior to the other villagers. One English tourist makes Mamarrosa the subject of her fantasy of a new life, while for her compatriots, a young engaged couple, Mamarrosa is where their dreams finally fall apart. At the book s opening an old man reflects on his long and troubled life in this beautiful and seemingly tranquil setting, and anticipates the return of Marco Afonso Rodrigues, the prodigal son of the village and a symbol of this now fast-changing world. The homecoming is the subject of continuing speculation, and when Marco Afonso Rodrigues does finally appear, villagers, tourists and expatriates are brought together and
Monica Ali is one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists of the decade, Newcomer of the Year at the 2004 British Book Awards and has been nominated for most of the major literary prizes in Britain. Her first novel, Brick Lane, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the George Orwell Prize for political writing and the prestigious Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Internationally there has been similar recognition, including, in the United States, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times 'First Fiction' Prize, for which the book was shortlisted. Monica Ali lives in London with her husband and two children, and is working on her next novel.