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Intimacy Paperback – 18 Jan 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 155 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (18 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571195709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571195701
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Hanif Kureishi's latest novel made many reviewers uneasy on its first appearance, because it cuts so painfully near to the bone. If a novelist's first duty is to tell the truth, then Kureishi has done his duty with unflinching courage. Intimacy gives us the thoughts and memories of a middle-aged writer on the night before he walks out on his wife and two young sons, in favour of a younger woman. A very modern man, without political convictions or religious beliefs, he vaguely hopes to find fulfilment in sexual love. No-one is spared Kureishi's cold, penetrating gaze or lacerating pen. "She thinks she's feminist, but she's just bad- tempered," he says of his abandoned wife. A male friend advises him, "Marriage is a battle, a terrible journey, a season in hell and a reason for living."

At the heart of the novel is this terrible paradox: "You don't stop loving someone just because you hate them." Male readers will wince with recognition at the narrator's hatred of entrapment and domesticity, and his implacable urge towards freedom, escape, even loneliness. Female readers may find it a truly horrific revelation. Kureishi is only telling it like it is, in staccato sentences of pinpoint accuracy. By far the author's best yet: a brilliant, devastating work. --Christopher Hart

Book Description

An unsettling and emotionally charged look at the end of a relationship, from the acclaimed author of The Buddha of Suburbia. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Oct 2000
Format: Paperback
That INTIMACY observes the tragic unities of time and place is indicative of its ambition. Kureishi uses the end of a relationship not only to discuss the tension between sexual and domestic intimacy, but also to examine the intimacy shared by narrator and reader: ironically we are able to do for the taciturn Jay what no one can do for him in life - listen while "the inner storm of [his] intolerable thoughts blows itself out". Indeed, the novel's chief success is to force on us the complicity this intimacy brings with it. This is an exceptionally well written book. The restraint and elegance of Jay's voice is punctured only by his vulgar treatment of sex, which itself suggests that lust is his fatal flaw. The problem with INTIMACY, however, is that the protagonist is simply too cruel, too cowardly, and too vain for us to sympathize with his vacillation over whether or not he should abandon his children and their mother. This maybe because Kureishi intends us to focus on the internal 'tragedy' of Jay's existential isolation; but if this is the case, Jay's contemptible efforts to yoke his unhappiness to his generation's disillusionment ("If Marx had been our begetter...Freud was our new father, as we turned inwards") and to elevate his lust to the level of a philosophical tenet loom to large. The same is true of the supporting cast, given that it never develops beyond a projection of Jay's psyche. His lover Nina is a gently pornographic fantasy, his cohabitee Susan an emblem of uxorial "competence"; similarly, his freinds Asif and Victor merely exemplify his crudely polarized view of life as a choice between suburban incarceration and hedonistic abandon ("My kingdom for a come"). Because of this INTIMACY leaves you feeling numbed, rather than moved.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 May 2003
Format: Paperback
I think those reviewers who gave this book a low rating because it was introverted and pretentious are missing the point. It seems to me that the point of the book is not an objective critical examination, but a stream of conciousness work in which Kureishi communicates how he feels. I think it is a very brave work. He makes no effort to gain sympathy from the reader and he makes no apologies. His direction is one of 'this is the way I feel and that is all'. As for the pretention, well, as an aspiring writer myself I do not think it is pretentious at all. The complex emotions involved require complex writing. Kureishi is not afraid to do something different and aim for a style that he feels captures the tone of the novel best, and that is what is so important as a writer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Feb 1999
Format: Paperback
Kureshi's portrait of the end of a relationship is stunningly honest and engrossing. One can see why he can be accused of selfishness but such honesty makes for an uncomfortable and unsettling read. Thoroughly recommended
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jcope on 19 Jan 2001
Format: Paperback
At first impression this story may appear banal and self-centered, however it is really a rich network of ideas interwoven with self-betrayal, passion, exile and abject realism. Kureishi manages to swirl you around with images from your own life so much that you may find it difficult to stop reading this passionate tale of dark inner truths. You will feel for the main protagonist, be able to relate to his insecurities, be shocked by his behaviour and resent him, sometimes all in one go. This is one of my favourite Kureishi books. I would encourage you to read it if you've ever been in love, ever been fed up with your life circumstances, ever not wanted to go to work or ever dreamt of living on a beach and escaping it all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Ian Gillibrand on 30 April 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book.I am a 40 something now happily married guy and yet can sadly recognise some if not all of the musings and conflicts of Jay, and believe many others (and not just men ) could do the same.Some reviewers have said this is an uncomfortable read ....it is...but none the less enjoyable for that.
Highly recommended to those who can take some self criticsism and be prepared to look at themselves in the mirror!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Mar 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a book which even though I read it three weeks ago is still in my mind. It really does sum up 'end-of-relationship feelings' the way that beautiful memories go out of the window and become secondary to finding a way out. As a woman reading the book I felt that every day with my husband is a blessing and recognised male traits from the past. A bit maudlin, well worth reading but definitely not if you feel insecure about your relationship...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paperback writer on 12 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback
If I was a man, I'd be this man. There it is.
The protagonist is, as other reviewers have pointed out, honest to the point of pain, and portrayed by Kureishi as trapped within the conformity of social expectation. Throughout this necessarily short novel, readers are teased and manipulated into half hating, half loving this curious man who bares his soul. There are moments when we think he'll do 'the right thing' and stay with his family, yet the treat-'em-mean-keep-'em-keen aspect of both the writing style and the character counters this.
Some critics have suggested this is a 'man's novel' about men's thinking at its worst. Whatever. For what it's worth, I believe the reason this is such a powerful narrative is because Kureishi exposes the things we all think about, empathise with and wish for. He forces us to be honest about our own feelings and to confess those dark secrets of our own. Read it, you'll see.
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