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3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 11 March 2002
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. Also unlike other writers his work forms a body of work with motifs going all the way back to `Sammy and Rosie Got Laid` sprinkled through it all; it`s Kureishi`s usual characters moved on in years and from a new perspective.
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on 31 March 2001
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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on 22 February 2001
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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on 14 October 2003
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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on 4 February 2001
Hanif Kureishi's latest is fresh and charming and inspiring. It seems, in some ways, to be aimed at a younger audience, but this did not bother me in the least, as all the elements I expect from "a good Kureishi" are there: the fluency of style, including dialog drawn straight from life, the wry humor (Hannah from the town of Bronchitis, with a river named Influenza winding through it...), the keen observation of human foibles and behavior. I found myself smiling at least once on every page and laughing out loud once in every chapter, on average. Combine that with an imaginative story-line, and memorable characters, and you have a winner. I also enjoyed meeting old friends (Charlie Hero, Creamy/Karim, even DeeDee Osgood!)... Probably the most touching scene is where Gabriel helps his dad back on his feet, in every sense of the word, by literally getting him out of bed, out the door and into a new career. The theme of talent and creativity has not, to my knowledge, been examined a lot in literature, and that gap has been filled here, and in an admirable way.
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on 7 October 2013
In Gabriel's dad, Hanif creates a character which has to be loved by every kid. Popular, charismatic, iconic, rebel, and most of all someone who has seems to have a lot more time than others. In short, Gabriel's dad is a classic nurturer and a groomer. Someone who should be present as one of the many role models in every kids life. Someone who is courageous enough to go against the grain, and at the same time deflecting the resulting opprobrium with the ease of a sage.

And in Gabriel's mother he creates a figure which every kid deserves as well. Hard-working, resolute, fighter, realist and someone with the most natural and perennial fear for the future. I guess the only major incompatibility between his parents was their approach to future. Dad could not see it and mom saw it all the times as a huge monster. I personally feel that an ideal personality should have a realistic fear of the future, not deny or completely embrace it.

Trouble is the novel has no story at all. It doesn't go anywhere, no it does, in circles, over and over again. The characters were too steeped in the art world for me to relate therefore I gave up near the end for I knew the end. It's a relatively poor effort from Hanif.(
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on 11 April 2001
Hanif Kureishi's new novel is meant to be a tender examination of family life, father-son relations, art, adolescence, and the embers of celebrity. Its engagement with all these issues is superficial. Kureishi can't escape the milieu of his previous novels (here, characters from Buddha of Suburbia are resuscitated), and there's a sense that his projects are now tired - even automatic. What keeps Gabriel's Gift from being downright bad is the occasional shard of wit; there are good lines, and there are cute snippets of observation. All the same, too much of the novel is uninspired, and there are passages which feel as though they took less time to write than they do to read. A disappointment.
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on 3 July 2001
Having enjoyed a number of Kureishi's works (particularly Buddha of Suburbia) I was looking forward to his recent effort. What a disappointment. The plot ambles along without direction, only to be tied up in a neat little bow at the end. The writing is uninspired and the characters somewhat one-dimensional.
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