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The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

The Buddha of Suburbia (1990)

by Hanif Kureishi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
"I was looking for trouble, any kind of movement, action and sexual interest I could find"
By sally tarbox on 29 August 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
An entertaining tale of a young mixed-race Londoner - father a Muslim Indian, mother English- growing up in the 1970s. When his father is taken up by the artistic Eva, and becomes something of a local celebrity with his yoga seminars, our hero, Karim, sees a new and exciting world opening up, even as he pities his mother, left behind. The whole feel of the era is well-drawn - the craze for the new and exotic, the sex, drugs and music, but also the racism and political discontent.
There are some great characters here: the strong-minded Jamila, long-suffering immigrant Changez, and many pretentious types whom Karim encounters through the theatre.
Enjoyable read. ( )
  starbox | Aug 28, 2017 |
“Someone to whom jokes are never told soon contracts enthusiasm deficiency.”

In man respects this is a coming of age novel set mainly in 1970's London against a background of the emergence of Punk Rock and political turmoil leading to the rise to ascendancy of Margaret Thatcher. The ''Buddha'' of the title is Haroon, father of Karim, the narrator, who works as a mundane Government bureaucrat until he deserts his British wife, Margaret, and moves in with socially climbing Eva giving out advice in the evening like some mystic guru to largely other bored Londoners. However Haroon is a fairly peripheral figure in the book. He is not even the most memorable.

Rather the story centres on his son Karim. Karim is a sort of hybrid. He was born in England to Indian and English parents yet has never even visited India so regards himself to be English yet because of his colour is not treated as such. He is struggling to find his place in British society having feet in two separate camps. Moving from "suburbia" to London, with its promise of drugs, sex and excitement, Karim discovers a talent for acting which sets him on a path to the first of many disillusionments over love and politics.

Tucked within is a real gem of a secondary tale. This is the story of Jamila, a liberated, sexually free and politically radical British-born Muslim woman and Changez, the Indian groom chosen for her by her father. Changez is twice her age, physically repulsive and emotionally retarded. Yet Jamila and Changez eventually seem to come to an unusual but seemingly amicable arrangement.

There is no neat ending and at times reads autobiographical. Rather the novel is pointedly political and highly critical of British racism making it at times uncomfortable reading . On the whole I enjoyed the author's writing style and I often found myself reading it with a smile on my face despite not overly taking to any of the main characters. Yet how it portrays teenage life in 1970s London, confronting disturbing home truths about British attitudes towards immigrants, which still remain within a section of British society today, means that this book deserves to be more widely read. ( )
  PilgrimJess | May 22, 2017 |
Comic satire plus coming-of-age novel about Indian migrant families in Britain, and the challenges they face in being accepted and forging a meaningful life for themselves and their families. For my full review, please see: http://whisperinggums.com/2015/09/30/hanif-kureishi-the-buddha-of-suburbia-revie... ( )
  minerva2607 | Mar 14, 2016 |
A donw-to-earth novel related through the eyes of Karim Amir, the main protagonist. With an Indian father and English mother, Karim is brought up in south London's Beckenham, amid council estates and poverty. His family manage to keep themselves above water but for them and their friends the big issue is dealing with the racism around them. Well-written and thought-provoking, this gives an insight into what life was probably like in the late 70s / early 80s. The one character I disliked was Karim himself - he came across as selfish and thoughtless and pandering to the stereotype that others saw him as. In his desperation to get away from his roots, he shows a lack of consideration for those who love him. I enjoyed this. ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
I liked this book, chaotic, but with interesting characters. It gives a little peak of how life can be or feel to be (a child of) an immigrant. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Apr 21, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hanif Kureishiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cotroneo, IvanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My name is Karim Amir, and I am an Englishman born and bred, almost.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 014013168X, Paperback)

There's quite a bit of activity in Buddha of Suburbia. A bureaucrat becomes a suburban guru who marries a follower with a son who's a punk rocker named Charlie Hero. Consequently, the guru's son is propelled from his bland life into a series of erotic experiences in London. All the while, Hanif Kureishi keeps the tone lively with wry wit. On the description of suburban life: "We were proud of never learning anything except the names of footballers, the personnel of rock groups and the lyrics to 'I Am the Walrus.'" He also bends cultures, classes and genders while blasting the racism of British life in this 1990 Whitbread Prize winner.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:03 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi's first novel, is a tour de force of comic invention, a bizarre, often hilarious, and totally original picture of the life of a young Pakistani growing up in 1970s Britain. Karim lives with his Mum and Dad in a suburb of south London and dreams of making his escape to the bright lights of the big city. But his father is no ordinary Dad, he is 'the buddha of suburbia', a strange and compelling figure whose powers of meditation hold a circle of would-be mystics spellbound with the fascinations of the East. Among his disciples is the glamorous and ambitious Eva, and when 'the buddha of suburbia' runs off with her to a crumbling flat in Barons Court, Karim's life becomes changed in ways that even he had never dreamed of ...… (more)

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