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Gabriel's Gift [Paperback]

H Kureishi
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 Jan 2001
In Hanif Kureishi's latest novel, Gabriel - a fifteen-year-old schoolboy - is forced to come to terms with a new life as his equilibrium is shattered by his father's departure from the family home. Trying to fend for himself, as well as emotionally supporting his confused and confusing parents, Gabriel is grow up quickly - with support only from his remembered twin brother, Archie, and his 'gift' - the ability to make sense of his world through painting and drawing. A chance visit to 70s rock star Lester Jones crystallizes the turbulent emotions inside Gabriel and helps him to engage with his gift and to heal the rift with his family. In Gabriel's gift, Hanif Kureishi has written a tender, witty and moving meditation on the power of the imagination to enrich our lives. Praise for Midnight All Day by Hanif Kureishi:


Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Printing edition (27 Jan 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571207928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571207923
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,277,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Gabriel's Gift is in many ways an old-fashioned coming-of-age novel that gives early adolescent angst its full pathos but Kureishi is saved from the potential mawkishness of his subject by prose attuned to the streets, pubs and people he writes about:

The place was full of childish men from the post office and the local bus garage gazing up at the big TV screen. Dad's grey-faced mates were playing pool. They all looked the same to Gabriel with their roll-ups, pints and musty clothes. They rarely went out into the light, unless they stood outside the pub on a sunny day, and they were as likely to eat anything green, as they were to drink anything blue or wear anything pink.

Gabriel's gift is that he is an artist trying to find his own colour-palette in the grey-tinged North London world described above and overcome the pain his parents' messy personal lives cause him. A meeting with Lester Jones, an ageing glam rock star, and former pal of Gabriel's somewhat hapless dad gives him the energy and opportunity to embark on his task of self-making and finding a better place in the world. Lester's lesson is that Gabriel's life and work need to be one thing. Gabriel's ally on this path is the voice of his remembered twin brother Archie. En route, his parents reconcile; his father finds some sense of purpose in teaching guitar and important friendships with his schoolmate Zak and the local gay restaurateur, Speedy, are formed.

The tentative sweetness of its protagonist remains the novels greatest strength. The writing is wistful, almost whimsical, though one misses a little of the anarchic nastiness that characterised the best of Kureishi's earlier work. --Neville Hoad

Review

"'Each book has been better than the last, and this is no exception... the writing in this book is sparer than in his earlier work, with cracking dialogue.' Daily Telegraph"

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a modern children`s story? 11 Mar 2002
Format:Paperback
This isn`t tricksy, ironic, detached, dealing with huge important issues of race, gender class and `Art`, it`s an engaging, warm story which I see no reason can not be on the GCSE reading list for fifteen year olds, or whatever it is they have now in education. Reminiscent of the best novels told from a teenage point of view, `Kes`, or with a teen protagonist Roddy Doyle/Nick Hornby, it takes elements from his other works: the rock star character from `Buddah`, the sentimental education of `Black Album` and sprinkles it with magic realism to tell a charming tale which doesn`t outstay its welcome. The hero has, as a lot of Kureishi chracters do, an artistic talent,drawing, but this time it is deftly and unpretentiously dealt with. The kid`s father is one of Kureishi`s most successful characters; a musician who once played with someone famous and has been living off it ever since. The huge star he backed makes delightful appearances in some of the funnier sections. Although the female characters aren`t as deftly achieved, this novel is an excellent excavation of the relations between a father and son, which is fairly developing into a major theme in Kureishi`s work. Who would have thought with his sophisticated,bohemian,ironic style of earlier books that Kureshi would have developed into a more emotional version of the writer Nick Hornby would have liked to have been. Let`s start facing it, with Amis, Barnes, Self and Rushdie writing nothing about nothing, Kureshi is the most intriguing and talented writer we now have. Docked one star because the last twenty pages aren`t as brilliant as the rest, and the novel gets a little too `twee`. But a great fairy tale for modern kids with as usual excellent sense of place and time. It needed something gritty in there, some meat, but a success nonetheless. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great short read 14 Oct 2003
By Mel
Format:Paperback
Gabriel's Gift is not a masterpiece in the vein of Kureishi's acclaimed Buddha of Suburbia but is similar in that it is a multi-layered observation of an adolescent struggling to come to terms with the hand that life has dealt him.
Gabriel's character is beautifully described and Kureishi evokes real empathy towards him from the reader using his usual brands of black humour and tragi-comedy. His dysfunctional parents are similarly three dimensional and almost Beckettian in their comical pathos.
The 'gift' itself is for the reader to interpret. Is it the picture given to him by a fading rock star, his own talent or the outcome of the story falling in line with his deepest wishes - and those of the reader?
A short, easy, modern read - perfect for tube or train journeys or those with a short attention span who still want to nourish their mind!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book 31 Mar 2001
Format:Paperback
This is a Kureshi book which does not deal with racial displacement. All the main characters are dealing with a type of displacement. the older characters all want to be in 'the Buddha of suburbia' to travel back in time to a place and time which they understand. I think that the fact that Kureshi uses his beloved characters from his older books, but does not really give them a voice shows how even they are displaced and almost unimportant in the present of his novel. His main protagonist is a young boy, who only belongs to the present, he is influenced by the older characters, but he is an observer and he uses his experiences not to draw away from his roots and family, but to re-unite them, Kureshi seems to be championing the family, rather than the society about which he is writing. I loved this book, it is Kureshi at his best, his humour and love for the 70's come out as it did in 'Buddha', the people who are linked with the past are wrapped up in cotton, their drug using fondly accounted, in comparison of his account of the 90's drug world which Gabriel is drawn into and ultimately saved from by his 70's loving father. Another great book from Kureshi for those of us who have been mislaid.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed Hanif Kureishi's new novel. It's a tale of imagination and how an older-than-his-years 15 year old, Gabriel, uses his talent for drawing and his penchant for imagination to come to grips with his parents' separation and eventually allows his estranged parents a new chance together. As usual, Kureishi creates characters who are full of life. He is able to show the disappointed failure of dad (Rex) and the frustrated despair of Mom (Christine), both of whom yearn for the past when they enjoyed moderate success in the music world. The pages where Gabriel draws strength from "imaginary" conversations with his deceased twin (Archie) are touching. Kureishi again demonstrates his talent for creating humor from ordinary situations. For example, Gabriel's manipulation of a clumpish au pair (Hannah) is clever and witty. Fans of Kureishi's earlier works will be pleased with the reference to DeeDee Osgood (from The Black Album) and the cameo appearances (with dialogue) of Buddha of Suburbia characters Karim Amir and Charlie Hero. Fans of Kureishi won't be able to put it down for the night. For others, it's a great first glimpse of his writing skills.
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