Hanif Kureishi was rightly awarded the Whitbread First Novel Award for his brilliantly comedic text, exploring the experience of what it means to be a British Asian in London. The novel encourages the reader to re-evaluate Britishness as an identity and the complex relationship between ethnic minority cultures and their fusion with that of the cemented British during the 1970’s.
In his attempt to escape the confines of his half Pakistani, half English family, which soon begins to disintegrate with the emergence of his father’s affair, protagonist Karim seeks the opportunity of pursuing a career in theatre. The world of performance not only encourages Karim to express himself through the arts but he begins to experiment with drugs and his sexuality in a hope to discover an identity crafted by himself, opposing that of the culture enforced by his father.
The Buddha of Suburbia truthfully scrutinises British culture and the difficulty faced by teenagers of that era in discovering where they came from and who they wanted to be. The narrative brings race relations to the forefront, with the sharply satirical first person account remaining consistent throughout , making it, therefore, one of the most hilariously honest and unrestrained texts I have read with regard to culture and identity!
by Jasmine Virhia
(image from http://www.walkaboutbooks.net/pages/books/12024/hanif-kureishi/the-buddha-of-suburbia)