The Buddha of Suburbia – Hanif Kureishi

buddha of suburbiaREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Rachel

A satirical coming-of-age story set against a background of racial and social tensions in 1970s London

❚ “The Buddha of Suburbia is a satirical coming-of-age story that deals with issues of class, race, and identity. The protagonist, Karim, is a youth of two cultures, half Indian and half English looking for identity and fulfillment – and adventure and sex! – in 1970s London.

“Karim’s father, Haroon, is a first generation immigrant, stuck in an unhappy job and marriage. He begins a relationship with Eva, with whom he shares an interest in Buddhism and Eastern Philosophy. Eva encourages Haroon to share his outlook with others, turning him into the Buddha of Suburbia. Karim accompanies his father to the early meetings mostly because he has a crush on Eva’s son, Charlie. Herein starts Karim’s introduction to an adult world full of renegade theatre directors, punk rock stars, fancy parties, and all the sex a young man could desire.

“Against a backdrop of class and racial tension, Karim transitions from adolescence to adulthood, trying to discover who he is and what he wants while also discovering the true meaning of home and family.”

Maybe you never stop feeling like an eight-year-old in front of your parents. You resolve to be your mature self, to react in this considered way rather than that elemental way, to breathe evenly from the bottom of your stomach and to see your parents as equals, but within five minutes your intentions are blown to hell, and you’re babbling and screaming in rage like an angry child.

❚ “A contemporary story that strikes a chord on many levels. There is no great plot, or surprise ending but Kureishi does poignantly detail British attitudes towards foreigners, as well as strongly held opinions on race, politics and sexuality. As a non-Brit I enjoyed the ’70s UK education, especially the pop culture and politics. This story was a real journey.” – Rachel

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Published 1990
Faber & Faber
288 pages

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