Priekšpilsētas Buda
by Hanif Kureishi
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Romānā "Priekšpilsētas Buda" notikumi strauji seko cits citam. Kāds ierēdnis kļūst par priekšpilsētas guru un apprec savu skolotāju, kurai ir dēls pankrokeris ar pseidonīmu Čārlijs Hīro. Līdz ar to paša guru dēls tiek izrauts no savas mierīgās dzīves un iemests veselā seksuālu dēku virknē. Hanifa Ku... More

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This book and me
I am in love with this book. I think it's shameful how Hanif Kureishi went from writing this wonderful book, to an OK book like the Black Album (his second novel) to a long string of novels that really did not even stick in memory. Maybe this is one of those cases where good is in the eye of the beholder. I had met Victoria, my first girlfriend, one night in the Imperial College's Falmouth-Keogh Halls of Residence at Princes' Gate Gardens. It was the first or second month into my maths B.Sc., and was coming home late from some drinking session or other. I was only slightly tipsy. There's this cute, long-haired, very english-looking girl crying over someone's shoulder near the public telephones. I eye them a little and from the body language I understand that this someone is not anyone she's crying over, but just a passer-by. Good, I tell myself. Let's DO this! So I quickly sent him on his way (he was actually relieved, he'd had enough of her tears I guess) and proceded to console the distraught girl. We have been together for three years and then split up when I moved back to Italy after the end of the B.Sc. One and a half years into our relationship, she lent me her copy of the Buddha of Suburbia, and I've been reading it once every two years on average ever since. I have a weak spot for books relating stories from the seventies. A lot of individuals have the feeling they've been born a generation too late. From what I was told and read about being a young twentysomething during the seventies, it sure looked like a fun period to be alive in. Ideals drove politics that drove economy, whilst nowadays it's imperfect market laws driving economy driving politics. People discussed books, stories, and culture. Experimented with sex and art. Fought political battles demonstrating from the streets against the Powers That Be. When I attended demonstrations, they had already become marginal events (in the economic sense). They'd gone from the workers' struggles to the university struggles down to high school level. I was fourteen. What can a shy, sexually immature, hormone-imbalanced fourteen year old possibly demonstrate about? Like many other kids, I think I went to demonstrations partially to avoid one day of school and partially to try and catch girls' attention (going to demonstrations for sexual reasons was wildly popular, at least in Italy, as related by both Umberto Eco in Foucault's Pendulum and in Ravera and Radice's Porci con le Ali). I was successful in the first feat, largely by default, whilst I was a failure in the much more important girl-scoring area. Never mind. So I would have liked to attend demonstrations which were not just copies of copies of copies. I would have liked to see and live the real thing. I read books and books and I think I can refer to seventies' idols and trends in a hip, knowing way, without ever having been there. Now I'm an adult, I tell myself that if I'd lived during the seventies, I'd have probably stayed on the side anyway, and dreamt of how nice it would have been to be living in the fifties. The Buddha of Suburbia told me a seventies' story from two novel points of view: that of geography (I'd only ever known about the seventies in Italy) and race (which was not an issue in Italy, but was very much an issue in the UK). And it did so whilst transmitting a curiosity towards all that is Indian, for all the black (well, Indian really) characters in the book are interesting and much more alive than the white ones. This book gave me a key to interpreting a lot of current English behaviour. Having been bullied by English people myself, without really being able to explain why --- since there was very little bullying in Italy --- I'd always been extremely puzzled about it. Now I started to understand the backlash of the colonies, the poverty of the basest home-grown culture confronted with the most enterprising individuals choosing the difficult task of moving from India to England, and the resulting defeat. Jobs were robbed and competition became fiercer at the margins, but the competitors from outside had already proven to be of sturdier stock. This generated hate. Besides, England being an island, they were always somewhat prone to xenophobia. Helen's father saying ``we're with Enoch'' was a sentence that always perplexed me. I recently found out about Enoch Powell and his movement. This book had a way of introducing me to things and events that English people in the nineties did not talk about --- maybe simply because Enoch was far from making the news in the 1990s --- but all knew, and sometimes referred to implicitly. I also took in all the good hints like touching girls' ears to see if they're ready for sex (actually, after much experimenting, I think this is false). I was fascinated by the sexual relationship between the cousins, and could see the difference between real London and that described in the book. West Kensington was much less run-down, for example. But Earls' court, although more upscale, was still ambivalent about its social status. And all these places were within walking distance from Imperial College! How much better can you get huh? Furthermore, although I hate books without a definite ending, I make an exception for this one. Yes, the story actually ends without strictly needing to. But there is a sense of conclusion to it. Like an age has been told, there may be strands of the past age drawing into the new one, but fundamentally the boy's gotten out of adolescence and into adulthood.