Tuesday, June 07, 2005

BOL Meet – 5th June 2005

The second Books On Latte (BOL) meeting took place on 5th June at 4:00 PM and the august gathering comprised of the following luminaries MidWestChic (MWC), Bored, AR Fan (ARF), Brat and yours truly (I have not yet asked my BOL mates if I could use their names in my blogs, hence their alter-ego monikers). Three of the club members could not make it because of other pressing matters or in some case, just plain indolence to finish reading the book. This meeting took place at MWC's beautifully maintained house in Farmington Hills and MWC played the gracious hostess to the hilt.

The book that was dissected was Hanif Khureshi’s ‘Buddha of Suburbia’, which was discussed quite enthusiastically by the members present. The book is set in England in the 70’s and tells the story about a disillusioned Indian expatriate, Haroon who turns to eastern mysticism during the sex, drugs and rock and roll halcyon days of the 70’s. The story is narrated by Haroon’s young son Karim and his metamorphosis and coming of age while taking up a career in the theatre and pursuing a wild lifestyle that delves into sexual ambivalence and moral excesses.

Here is a gist of the book review conversations.

MWC: Though that this book was an easy read. Felt that there was too much hype surrounding the book and that she expected much out of it, but was disappointed. Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5. She skipped quite a few pages since the events were so predictable and made for boring reading. The entire book was written facetiously and had to be read in the same vein. She also pointed out the difference in the two primary chapters of the book viz. life in the burbs and life in London.

ARF: Did not like the book, since could not relate to the story in anyway. However gave it a few points for some humor. Liked the character of Changez, an Indian immigrant who travels to England for an arranged marriage with Jamila, who is blackmailed by her father Anwar into marrying Changez. The character of Haroon or the Buddha of Suburbia was a phony and it was not detailed well as to what happens after they move to London. Overall rating: 1 out of 5

Bored: Also did not like the book and felt that this was a common affliction amongst Indian writers writing English novels. What Hanif Khureshi was trying to market in this novel was novelty of his mixed cultural background, and he does not do a very good job at it. Besides Charlie all the characters lacked depth and were not detailed very well. Hanif Khureshi does not detail emotions and relationships very well, since no relationship had been detailed to the fullest. Overall Rating: 2 out of 5

Brat: Too many characters introduced and the author did not close many of the angles that he started. Because of the number of characters, there was no scope to sketch any character to the fullest. There were nicknames provided to all the characters in the novel.

Sourin: Basically most of what everyone had detailed in their conversation and also the story felt disjointed in many parts. Throughout the reading of the novel, I kept asking ‘Where is he going with this ?’. None of the characters at the end of the novel stayed in memory and there were sections or intents that didn’t seem very coherent. Overall Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

Of course, we flitted between various different topics like the social structure of Britain during the 60’s and 70’s, the ambiguity of the age of the characters in the novel, sexual ambivalence of Karim, psyche of immigrants particularly Indian, to the West, relationship of Changez and Jamila and the fact that Changez accepts a child sired by Jamila and another man, and the writings of Salman Rushdie which was unanimously agreed as boring and rambunctious. Overall the reviews for ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’ book were not very enthusiastic and one can only conclude that the author was flitting in and out of a doped demeanor or blissful inebriation while penning this novel. My personal recommendation: magnanimous waste of time.


Anonymous Ajay said...

Cool...thx for the summary.. frm the books for the next discussion, looks like it will be a better read.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous MWC said...

Nice Sourin. Even though the book lacked it made for a good discussion.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting the meeting summary up on your blog.
And you have summarised the critiques pretty well too.


4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am one of the unfortunate who couldn't make it to the BOL meeting. I agree with all of you that the book was a disappointment. The title of the book is a little misleading, while it suggests it may be about haroom it is mostly about Karim. Karim is a typical teenager who drifts in the currents of experimentation, adventure,inferiority,race to better himself and finally realization. I liked the fact that he comes of age finally and doesnt like the wild ways of Charlie and can sort out his emotions about his parents and Allie and friends Changez and Jamilla. After Karim, I liked the characters of Jeeta and jamilla.
The topic that stands out: Allie's discussion on racism- At least the blacks have a history of slavery...But no one put people like u and me in camps, and no one will. we can't be lumped in with them..What is meted out to immigrants is a result of their decision and they have to invent ways to overcome it or ignore it. As cream discovered- money could be instrumental.

1:01 PM  

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