Author: Hanif Kureishi.
This is one of the novels I had to read for my British Lit. class. I was so happy with Karim, the novel’s protagonist, because he was mixed race and bisexual. Representation of marginalized identities is something I look for a lot in media. Because I’m mixed race and gay it’s difficult to come across characters that I can affiliate with. That’s why I really responded to Karim, an English-Indian bisexual teenager who lives in the suburbs of London. I also live in the suburbs so it really felt like this was my life on paper!
The suburbs play an important role in this novel. They are depicted as culture-less and claustrophobic with Karim and Charlie constantly trying to get out and to the centre of London where life is exciting. I related so much to this idea of the oppressive suburban life because I feel like that in Limerick.
The novel chronicles the coming of age story of Karim as he struggles with who he wants to become in terms of his career as a stage actor and his ethnic and sexual identity. He tries to locate himself in Britain as a mixed race individual, at first finding it difficult with being cast in roles that are stereotypically Indian. His bisexuality is brought to the forefront which is important because of the history of bi-erasure that exists.
A wonderful coming of age story that effectively utilises 70’s pop culture amid post-Thatcher Britain and racial tensions. It perfectly blends comedy, politics, drama and eroticism.