Friday, May 10, 2013

The Buddha of Suburbia

by Hanif Kureisha

The Buddha of Suburbiai read this one because of my fondness for the movie My Beautiful Laundrette, which was written by this author. that movie was so generous, its characters so busy, its perspective so uncomplaining about unruly complicated messy awkward life. the book has that same feeling. i have a (too) organized mind and i feel vaguely envious of how Kureishi must see the world, taking in all of the confusion and seeing it as natural, organic, sometimes awful but mainly kinda beautiful. that generosity of spirit is the best thing about this delightful but sometimes rather minor note novel. it is crammed with life. even in suburbia!

the protagonist is casually bi. so am i. this is maybe the only other time i've read of such a protagonist in contemporary literary fiction (the other being The Mysteries of Pittsburgh). beyond sexuality, Karim tries to be open-minded and even-handed; he often fails utterly and holds things against people that he knows he shouldn't. Karim is also a very internal person, yet is surrounded by outgoing people and is part of a dynamic whirl of events, socializing, coming-and-going, people changing, etc. he is a part of different groups while being apart from those groups as well. it was a nice experience to read all about a character who showed me a way of looking at myself.

Esikaupunkien buddhaبوذا الضواحيi should also mention that Karim is a Class A Jerkoff. he makes poor decisions. he is a condescending know-it-all who talks on and on and on. he's such an asshole at times and was quite hard to deal with. at those points it was even harder realizing that i still saw myself in him. ah well. the best character is actually his friend Jamilla ('Jammie') who has a rather adorably pathetic fiance and is a smart, sensible, rather mean-spirited, tough-minded, down-to-earth lady that i would like to marry.

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