Monday, 27 July 1998

Hanif Kureishi: The Buddha of Suburbia (1990)

Edition: Faber & Faber, 1998
The Buddha of Suburbia coverReview number: 37

The Buddha of Suburbia tells the story of the adolescence of Karim Amir, who considers himself "an Englishman born and bred - almost". He is growing up in south-east London during the seventies, son of a mixed Asian-English marriage. Through Karim, Kureishi explores his major theme of what it means to be Asian in Britain, and has a fertile ground for the subsidiary themes of divorce, sexuality and class membership.

His father is moving more towards an Asian heritage which is not really his own - he comes from a rich Hindu background, and he is exploring Buddhism and setting himself up as a New Age guru with the help of his (upper middle class English) lover Eva. He is the Buddha of the title. Karim is desperately infatuated with Eva's son, Charlie; he has the glamour of being a singer in a rock band, albeit only a minor one. As punk becomes fashionable, Charlie re-invents his sub-Roxy Music image and becomes famous; the Amir family disintegrates and Karim begins to grow up.

The Buddha of Suburbia is a knowingly trendy read, which I enjoyed quite a bit.

1 comment:

Hansi said...

This is one book that attempted to squash all that was interesting in the 70's into a dozen chapters or so. I really enjoyed reading it. Great sense of humor!