The Buddha of Suburbia – Hanif Kureishi

The Buddha of Suburbia was a book I chose for the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die reading project. The Buddha of Suburbia is Hanif Kureishi’s first novel, and it won the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel. It begins in the suburbs of London and ends in the city. While reading the very interesting life of a young man named Karim, the reader also takes a look at a certain period of England.


The Buddha of Suburbia - Hanif Kureishi

Unfortunately, The Buddha of Suburbia was not a novel that I enjoyed reading. I couldn’t warm up to the book because I couldn’t put Karim, a very confused young man on the way to adulthood, anywhere in my mind. I can’t say that I admire the author’s style either. Oh, and of course, there is the English humour that I still don’t understand. In most of the comments I read, people stated that they found this book funny; it is interesting.

I think there was only one character in the book that I found close to myself and read fondly: Eva. Unfortunately, she is a woman trying to destroy a home and build a new one. If we don’t consider that part, she was a colourful and enjoyable character. Other than that, unfortunately, I can’t say many nice things about The Buddha of Suburbia. But if you want to read about racism and youth issues in the UK, it can be more entertaining than an academic book.

Want to read a book set in England? Try Possession – A. S. Byatt.

The Buddha of Suburbia - Hanif Kureishi

The Buddha of Suburbia

“My name is Karim Amir, and I am an Englishman born and bred, almost…”

The Buddha of Suburbia: The hero of Hanif Kureishi’s debut novel is dreamy teenager Karim, desperate to escape suburban South London and experience the forbidden fruits which the 1970s seem to offer. When the unlikely opportunity of a life in the theatre announces itself, Karim starts to win the sort of attention he has been craving – albeit with some rude and raucous results.

With the publication of Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi landed into the literary landscape as a distinct new voice and a fearless taboo-breaking writer. The novel inspired a ground-breaking BBC series featuring a soundtrack by David Bowie.

Hanif Kureishi

Hanif Kureishi was born in Kent and read philosophy at King’s College, London. In 1981 he won the George Devine Award for his plays Outskirts and Borderline and the following year became writer in residence at the Royal Court Theatre, London.

His 1984 screenplay for the film My Beautiful Laundrette was nominated for an Oscar. He also wrote the screenplays of Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987) and London Kills Me (1991). His short story ‘My Son the Fanatic’ was adapted as a film in 1998. Kureishi’s screenplays for The Mother in 2003 and Venus (2006) were both directed by Roger Michell. A screenplay adapted from Kureishi’s novel The Black Album was published in 2009. 

The Buddha of Suburbia - Hanif Kureishi

The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) won the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel and was produced as a four-part drama for the BBC in 1993. His second novel was The Black Album (1995). The next, Intimacy (1998), was adapted as a film in 2001, winning the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film festival. Gabriel’s Gift was published in 2001, Something to Tell You in 2008 and The Last Word in 2014. 

His first collection of short stories, Love in a Blue Time, appeared in 1997, followed by Midnight All Day (1999) and The Body (2002). These all appear in his Collected Stories (2010), together with eight new stories. His collection of stories and essays Love + Hate was published by Faber & Faber in 2015. 

He has also written non-fiction, including the essay collections Dreaming and Scheming: Reflections on Writing and Politics (2002) and The Word and the Bomb (2005). The memoir My Ear at his Heart: Reading my Father appeared in 2004.

Hanif Kureishi was awarded the C.B.E. for his services to literature, and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts des Lettres in France. His works have been translated into 36 languages.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Read Around the World, A Great Journey

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