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Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) by Hanif Kureishi

Book Review
The Buddha of Suburbia  (1990)
 by  Hanif Kureishi

   The Buddha of Suburbia is another example of the way familiar literary themes can be invigorated by the introduction of novel perspectives.  Here, the novel perspective is that of a mixed-race Indian/English narrator, a stand in for the author,  growing up in and around central London in the 1970's and 1980's.  The Buddha of Suburbia is not the narrator, but rather his India immigrant father, who augments his office work  with a mid-life crisis that involves him leaving his wife and the narrator's mother for a different English woman.

    Karim, narrator and protagonist, is a bright, vibrant fellow, not gay but certainly bi-sexual, who decides to make his way as an actor.  He has amusing adventures along the way.  Like many characters coming of age in contemporary fiction, the growth process can look suspiciously like non-growth, or arrested development, but it is impossible to pin that on Kureishi, who does a good job blending style and really gives insight into the mentality of a second generation London area immigrant.

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