I was disappointed in this book. The Buddha of Suburbia is listed in 1001 Books You Much Read Before You Die, but I confess to complete bewilderment as to why it should be so. I found it trashy and boring.
The introduction by Zadie Smith did little to enlighten me either. She tells us that as an adolescent she was thrilled to find filthy language in a book rather than on walls, and that she was excited to find her familiar Anglo-Indian world depicted in a novel. She found it funny too, but the humour passed me by.
It’s partly because the book is very dated. Set in the 1970s with incessant references to pop culture as if it matters, it tells the story of an inane young man called Karim who finds everything (school, his family, life &c) irrelevant and boring. His coming-of-age includes the discovery of sex with both boys and girls, and as the novel progresses the author’s attempts at titillation become more and more unsavoury.
His cultural identity issues are the old standards, and there are the usual accusations about British racism, and the whole book is too jolly long because so much of it is repetitive.
I like the Faber Modern Classics series, but I can’t recommend this one.
Author: Hanif Kureishi
Title: The Buddha of Suburbia
Publisher: Faber and Faber, 2015
Review copy courtesy of Allen and Unwin.