Sunday, February 02, 2014

Hanif Kureishi - The Buddha of Suburbia

The Buddha of SuburbiaThe Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this book up from the shelf of the Library with some trepidation. Will this novel turn out to be a series of self indulgent rantings by an intellectual author? My fears were un-founded.

The book is about Karim, growing up in the suburbs of London. His father, Haroon, is a muslim of Indian origin, now a civil servant in London. He is married to a British lady and has two sons, Karim and Allie. As the book starts, Haroon is all set to launch himself as the Buddha of Suburbia, going to private parties and giving a spiritual talk to people assembled there. He falls in love with the hostess of these parties, Eva. He leaves his wife and goes to live with Eva.

Karim, who goes to school with Eva's son, Charlie, chooses to accompany his father. He is in the last year of school and sees this break-up as an opportunity to expand his horizons.

Karim goes through many experiences as he tries to gain a foothold in the world, trying to establish himself as an actor.

I fell in love with Kureishi's language. Here is a sample as he describes the class differences in Britain. "For Eleanor's crowd hard words and sophisticated ideas were in the air they breathed from birth, and this language was currency that bought you the best of what the world could offer. But for us it could only ever be a second language, consciously acquired."

Towards the end of the book, as Karim grows older, he finds that the people who influenced him when he was young have shrunk, become inconsequential to him now.

The story flows along wonderfully, I was glued to the book for all of the week, intent on reading it through.

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