While ''The Buddha of Suburbia'' was a touching, raunchy comedy of manners with a cheerfully flawed cast of family and friends, Kureishi's new novel, ''Intimacy,'' is a brooding, depressed tragedy about adult dissatisfaction. It's as if the son of the Buddha of Suburbia had grown up, but all the yoga and sex and club-hopping of his teens and 20's left him ill equipped to deal with real life. The novel takes the form of Jay's extended meditation on the disintegration of his relationship, his love for another woman and subjects like monogamy, parenthood, unhappiness and, of course, intimacy. Jay is a screenwriter, described by one friend as someone who turns literature into pap. He lives in a comfortable house in London with his family, his books and his pot growing in the garden, but he is tormented. Susan, the mother of his children, has become a kind of enemy to him, a receptacle for his contempt.
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In Intimacy , screenwriter and Buddha Of Suburbia scribe Hanif Kureishi's third novel, the author delights in watching his unsympathetic fictional creations delight in his own baseness. Nobody else has much fun. Jay, an Oscar-nominated British screenwriter of Pakistani descent, has decided to leave his girlfriend and two children, and spends an evening pondering the causes and consequences of his imminent flight.
In the tradition of this sort of novel, most of his complaints have to do with sex, specifically its comparative quantity and quality outside of his domestic situation. And, in the tradition of bad-movie variations on this sort of novel, Jay has two metaphorical angels on his shoulders in the form of personal friends to help him make his decision: Victor has left his wife and regales Jay with tales of tawdry hedonism, while Asif remains happily married and tries to convince him of the erotic possibilities of hard-working, faithful domestic bliss.
Neither character ever doubts own simplistic philosophies or choices, reducing them to the status of pamphlets. Jay's partner is not much more interesting: Because she's a capable and organized career woman, it follows that she's also nagging, rigid, and asexual. His sometime mistress has the opposite qualities: She's a selfless, club-hopping fantasy who has little identity outside of being sexually available. It's difficult to know whether Intimacy 's misogyny stems from the author or the narrator.
However deliberately ironic the title of the novel—where women can't exist as fully realized characters and the single, minor, gay character celebrates promiscuity over the possibility of a deeper sexual relationship—intimacy cannot exist in its pages. Kureishi allows no time for Jay to change, even from flashback to the present, so it's irrelevant whether or not he actually leaves in the morning.
Intimacy does offer some flashes of good writing, especially in the much truer sense of ambiguity its central character feels about deserting his two children, but the relationship between Jay and the mother of those children remains shockingly undeveloped. By leaving nothing meaningful at stake, Kureishi is the one who fails to achieve intimacy with his characters or his audience. The A. Reviews Book Review. Read on. Subscribe To Our Newsletter.
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Charity ends at home
At the heart of Intimacy is this terrible paradox: "You don't stop loving someone just because you hate them. Female readers may find it a truly horrific revelation. Kureishi is only telling it like it is, in staccato sentences of pinpoint accuracy. By far the author's best yet: a brilliant, devastating work. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read.
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It is the unnamed narrator's last night with his wife and two children, whom he intends to leave the next day, although they don't know it. His wife, Susan, comes home from work while he is watching his sons, ages five and three, taking a bath. He is having an affair with Nina — "Something about her changed everything. Susan's range of feeling is narrow; she would consider it shameful to give way to her moods. They quibble, and the narrator is about to say, "Susan, can't you see that, of all the nights we have spent together, this is the last one — the last one of all? She says it will be an opportunity to discuss "things. He thinks of a conversation he had with his friend Asif, who refused to lie to Susan when the narrator asked him to cover up his assignation with Nina.
Read the Review. It is the saddest night, for I am leaving and not coming back. Tomorrow morning, when the woman I have lived with for six years has gone to work on her bicycle, and our children have been taken to the park with their ball, I will pack some things into a suitcase, slip out of my house hoping that no one will see me, and take the tube to Victor's place. There, for an unspecified period, I will sleep on the floor in the tiny room he has kindly offered me, next to the kitchen. Each morning I will heave the thin single mattress back to the airing cupboard.
Intimacy was published in by Hanif Kureishi. The novel deals with a middle-aged man and his thoughts about leaving his wife and two young sons. Set in contemporary London, the story tells why the protagonist wants to leave his family. The timespan of the novel is roughly 24 hours. He has lived with his partner for six years and has known her for ten. He is unhappy in his relationship and has had several affairs. His young lover one day says to him, "If you want me, I'm here".