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FRIDAY

When the first two siblings of Judeo-Christian tradition turned out to be murderer and murdered, one might have asked: Did fate—or sin—predetermine that Cain turn out evil? In Monica Ali’s debut novel, Brick Lane, Nazneen, an 18-year-old Muslim girl whose arranged marriage has sent her from a Bangladeshi village to East London, ponders similar questions concerning her younger sister, who has eloped: “If fate cannot be changed, no matter how you struggle against it, then perhaps Hasina was fated to run away….Oh, you think it would be simple, having made the decision long, long ago, to be at the beck and call of fate, but how to know which way it is calling you?” Were it simple for Nazneen to know her own destiny, Brick Lane would be far less richly textured and emotionally satisfying. Already a best-seller in England, Ali’s tale of sisters doing it for themselves despite cultural strictures is destined for success here, as well. Surrender to their story when Ali reads at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free. (202) 347-3686. (Pamela Murray Winters)