#CBR6 Review #106: The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

This is it! THIS IS IT!!! I’m writing my last chapter, you guys!!!! The end is in sight!!!!!!!!

smeagol-is-free-o

Ahem. The Buddha of Suburbia is one of the main texts in this chapter, so I re-read it (new for CBR, though) in order to help focus my argument and cement the novel’s place in this chapter of the dissertation (I won’t articulate my argument here, but basically, the novel of manners isn’t dead. Because though we don’t live in Regency England, we still practice manners). It’s one of the most intriguing and original contemporary British novels that I’ve read.

Karim Amir is a young man growing up in late 1970s London with his white English mother and British-Indian father, who has taken up yoga and meditation to “teach” to bored suburbanites. Karim himself is struggling to articulate his identity. Is he Indian, despite having been to India only once in his life and being born to a white mother? Is he English, despite the color of his skin? The novel points to the way in which we articulate nationality and identity (both corporate and personal), and it interrogates the Anglocentric nature of contemporary fiction. It’s also hilariously funny, even though it’s poorly labeled (in my opinion) as a comedy of manners.

Since I am specializing in contemporary British and American fiction (well, 20th century as a whole, but after 1980 is the period I *love* the most), this is exactly my kind of novel. If you’re into literary fiction, you’d probably find it interesting. It certainly asks interesting questions about how we view fiction (and is much more approachable than, say, Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses–though I love that novel, too).

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