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The buddha of suburbia

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The buddha of suburbia The title of this book may ring bells with some people who haven't read it, as it was made into a BBC drama series in 1993. More importantly it won the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel in 1990. Hanif Kureishi (HK from now on) is probably better known for his 2 excellent films, My Beautiful Launderette, and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid. Well, I think so anyway, because I've seen them, and I didn't see The Buddha of Suburbia. Subjective stuff, I know, but what the heck, it's Thursday, an anniversary of sorts for me as coincidentally it's the day I was born on. This is HKs' debut novel, and it is sublime, well worthy of winning prizes, which is why I mustered up the energy to try and write about it. It's the sort of book that should be thrust upon people, I'm going to buy all my relatives a copy for Christmas. ...read more.


This ranges from having sly and not so sly pops at the temperamental luvvies, through to ragging the politico types such as Terry, the Communist actor whom Karim repeatedly tries to seduce purely for the amusement of seeing him squirm. Karim has one asset to counter his idle nature, charm. He loves sex, with either boys or girls, ranging from Charlie, Eva's soon-to-be pop star son, to Jamila. Haroon catches Karim with his hands on Charlie's assets, and approves not, "A bumbanger! My own son - How did it transpire?" Karim, in his usual fashion, just blackmails his Father into leaving him alone. Casual sex partner Jamila is the daughter of Anwar, Haroons best friend, and his wife, Princess Jeeta, who run a grocery store. Being a devotee of women's rights and the daughter of a Muslim make for one of the books major conflicts, but she has sex regularly with Karim in toilets, building sites, or wherever the opportunity rises. ...read more.


Creamy takes a lead, he also disrupts the lives of Jean and Ted, his wife's sibling and in-law, with his strange utterances, which we don't really hear much of, just the fallout from them. Ted and Jean are the real suburbanites here, and are lampooned by HK in a fashion that is subtle enough to ensure that if their contemporaries read the book, they would probably fail to notice the irony of it all. I've tried to convey the flavour of this book without giving too much of the plot away, but I guess it's one of those novels it's just too hard to do justice. Get it from your library, buy it, borrow it, or anything. This is a book not to be missed. As a parting comment, here's one of the cover quotes "It is a wonderful novel. I doubt I will read a funnier one, or one with more heart, this year, possibly this decade" Angela Carter, Guardian. Maybe a bit over effusive, but she's not far off the mark. ...read more.

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