The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Hueshi

1397 WordsJan 27, 20186 Pages
Hanif Kueishi’s Buddha of Suburbia depicts a young man called Karim Amir and his search for identity in 1970s London. As the plot progresses, it becomes apparent that Karim does not fall into a distinct category, defined by sexuality, class, or race. He is a young mixed-race man with fluid sexuality. He is “a funny kind of Englishman”—a product of two old histories (Kureishi 3). He is placed in the position of a hybrid because of his cultural background, and by the endless racist encounters that occur in his life. He is not a traditional protagonist who fully belongs to one social group or identity. The narrative ultimately brings Karim to a realization that it is impossible for him to find a place in the society. Karim’s character dismantles the normative movement of adolescence into a societally accepted adulthood, and the societal expectations that discriminate against him because he is “almost English.” By residing in a queer space and time in the Buddha of Suburbia, Karim not only subverts the conventional construction of adulthood, but also withstands the hegemonies of race that affect him as a half-Indian living in London. Often placed as the Other, Karim rejects both extremes. He rejects England’s racialized view of him, and normative ideas of home, and family. He acknowledges his “odd mixture of continents and blood, of here and there, of belonging or not” and sets out to look for trouble, which would distract him from his “gloomy, slow and heavy” family life (3).

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