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The Buddha of Suburbia [Paperback]

Hanif Kureishi
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 April 1991

The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi's first novel, is a tour de force of comic invention, a bizarre, often hilarious, and totally original picture of the life of a young Pakistani growing up in 1970s Britain.

Karim lives with his Mum and Dad in a suburb of south London and dreams of making his escape to the bright lights of the big city. But his father is no ordinary Dad, he is 'the buddha of suburbia', a strange and compelling figure whose powers of meditation hold a circle of would-be mystics spellbound with the fascinations of the East.

Among his disciples is the glamorous and ambitious Eva, and when 'the buddha of suburbia' runs off with her to a crumbling flat in Barons Court, Karim's life becomes changed in ways that even he had never dreamed of . . .


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Product details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; New edition edition (8 April 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571142745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571142743
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 309,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Beautiful paperback Faber Firsts edition to commemorate Faber's 80th Anniversary.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Hanif Kureishi was born and brought up in Kent. He read philosophy at King's College, London. In 1981 he won the George Devine Award for his plays Outskirts and Borderline, and in 1982 he was appointed Writer-in-Residence at the Royal Court Theatre. In 1984 he wrote My Beautiful Laundrette, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay. His second screenplay Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987) was followed by London Kills Me (1991) which he also directed. The Buddha of Suburbia won the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel in 1990 and was made into a four-part drama series by the BBC in 1993. His version of Brecht's Mother Courage has been produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. His second novel, The Black Album, was published in 1995. With Jon Savage he edited The Faber Book of Pop (1995). His first collection of short stories, Love in a Blue Time, was published in 1997. His story My Son the Fanatic, from that collection, was adapted for film and released in 1998. Intimacy, his third novel, was published in 1998, and a film of the same title, based on the novel and other stories by the author, was released in 2001 and won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival. His play Sleep With Me premièred at the Royal National Theatre in 1999. His second collection of stories, Midnight All Day, was published in 2000. Gabriel's Gift, his fourth novel, was published in 2001. The Body and Seven Stories and Dreaming and Scheming, a collection of essays, were published in 2002. His screenplay The Mother was directed by Roger Michell and released in 2003. In 2004 he published his play When The Night Begins and a memoir, My Ear At His Heart. A second collection of essays, The Word and the Bomb, followed in 2005. His screenplay Venus was directed by Roger Michell in 2006. His novel Something to Tell You was published in 2008.In July 2009 his adaptation of his novel, The Black Album, opened at the National Theatre, prior to a nation-wide tour. In 2010 his Collected Stories were published.He has been awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Celibacy in the suburbs....? I doubt it 17 Sep 2009
Format:Paperback
Hailing from the borough of Bromley myself (albeit growing up there in a different decade), this book has been on my "I really should read that" list for years. Having finally got round to it (the reading part took only a matter of days, you'll see why below) I thought I may as well do the book the courtesy of setting out my humble thoughts on it.

The pace of the book is quick. It's an uptempo tale taking you from the south London suburbs, to well-heeled Kensington, glamorous New York and back again before you know it. Characters that are bonkers. Characters you'd love to have a beer with. Characters you have an ache in your chest for out of pure sympathy. Characters you would literally do an about turn in the street to avoid.

I don't think it's the place of these reviews to spell out the plot, and other people have taken the trouble in other reviews in any case. But Kureishi captures that longing for meaning and excitement that all (normal) teenagers and people in their early 20s experience, to a tee. People of that age are rightly selfish and need to take things for granted in order to find out what really matters to them.

This book captures that spirit of freedom in life. You never know where you might end up, who with and why. You also never know when you might surprise yourself and just go after something completely different in life to everything you had worked for and previously valued. It's a breath of fresh air and Kureishi's blunt and often brutal prose exploits that essence to the max. He writes it as it is and I like that.

For me the best character in the book is the surburb itself.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A humerous, intellectual and very observed insight into the growing up of a British Indian, his sexuality, viewpoints, career and family life. Based in the late 70s it encompasses wonderfully all the pains and joys of school to adulthood from the perspective of the voyeur, or should that be involved observer?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sold on it 8 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback
For years I was put off reading this book, I thought it had some kind of agenda in mocking suburbanites from an Asian perspective. Well, it does have an agenda - it takes the mick out of pretty much everyone, yes, the Abigail's Party brigade with their worship of central heating and double glazing, the world of Margot and Jerry Ledbetter. But it is even more damning of the Asian community, or perhaps I should say the older generation, who of course would be grandparents today. In particular their misogyny and patriachal nature, and we witness the ebb and flow of power between the sexes.

Some on this site complain about a lack of a plot. Well, I suppose they'd say the same of The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis, it's that sort of narrative. Mainly, it's about a young suburban teenager, Karim, who finds his cosy existance blown apart when his dad, a first generation immigrant who never quite made good, is coopted by the charismatic and ambitious Eva into giving lectures of buddhism and enlightenment. The book is wonderfully observed, and it charts the way Karim hopes to use the tailwind of this development to get away from the boring, suburban life and taste the exotism of the city. There are some very funny lines here, but it's true that the lead narrater doesn't propel events, usually stuff happens to him.

Being a bloke, I'd call it out for a couple of things. Firstly, the narrator has a superiority complex. This is amusing if you also have a bit of a superiority complex. Just about everyone he meets, he skewers in the prose, although of course if Karim were such a naive fellow, coming of age, he wouldn't be that insightful. Really, it's the author who is delivering these verdicts.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, entertaining, and deeper than you realise 18 Sep 2009
By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
A great comic novel set in the 1970s, The Buddha of Suburbia is a coming-of-age story centred on Karim. At the start of the story he is a teenager, desperate to escape suburbia. His chance comes when his father reinvents himself as an unlikely new-age guru and runs off with another woman. It did remind me in some ways of Adrian Mole (though it is not written in diary format), particulary the early chapters. There's the same laugh-out-loud observational comedy and dry humour, the same eccentricity, and the same hint of pathos underlying it all. But it's probably a more literary novel than Mole.

Class is an important theme, as is race, but the latter is not made the focus of the book. The differences between the lives and values of the different social classes in Britain are shown to be as big and difficult to bridge as those of race. I liked that the novel took a different angle on the popular culture-clash issue, and presented it in a fresh and original way.

Karim's narrative voice is full of dry wit, and the characters are wonderfully described. Even though some were eccentric, all were believable. The book spans a number of years and is very well paced, showing how characters grow and develop - or stay the same - over time. It is always interesting and entertaining, and you're never too sure what will happen next, although it's not gripping in the conventional thriller sense. Just a minor warning - there's a lot of sex and drugs and punk music - the first quite graphic in places - so the easily offended reader may wish to think again. But it was nothing unreasonable and nothing worse than you'll find in many modern novels.

If you want a book that is funny and that will make you think, this will do the job nicely. It's particularly strong for saying it's a first novel, and I'd be keen to read Kureishi's subsequent works.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious
This book is a great read. I should have read this years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend it.
Published 1 month ago by Lesaires
5.0 out of 5 stars The buddha of suburbia
epic epic epic I loved it though it was really good 18_41 year old would love this book I gave it 5 stars
Published 1 month ago by L M Epton
5.0 out of 5 stars Have finally read it,
This was an easy read. I couldn't put it down. I can't believe it took me so long to read it.
Published 2 months ago by Crafty girl
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, however unlikely the plot.
Enjoyed the earlier sections and then felt committed to reach the conclusion. Characters range from the believable to the absurd but overall, happy to have read it,
Published 2 months ago by William Lowbridge
3.0 out of 5 stars The Buddha of Suburbia
Having read The Kite Runner I was a bit disappointed with this one. However it certainly has not put me off reading any more by Hanif Kurashi.
Published 3 months ago by Jack McD
4.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgic
Remembered the tv series when I bought the book and it triggered those memories of the pain of growing and relationships. Read more
Published 3 months ago by daveblue
3.0 out of 5 stars Not My Normal Read
I only rate this average seni humerous slightly repetative book, i could not take to the characters, and would just say it was not for me,
Published 3 months ago by Sassy G
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
A brilliant and humorous insight into the racist decades of 1970's Britain. A story of a young mixed-race boy emerging into adulthood between the two communities of his Indian,... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Paul Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant culture observation
Real characters , written honestly and without trying to be funny, hysterical in places ...
Loved it like my first Bowie LP
Published 4 months ago by J. Kane
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Got as far as a quarter of the way through but it was boring and gave up in the end.
Published 4 months ago by Dons83
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