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Masaryk University Faculty of Arts

Department of English and American Studies English Language and Literature

Petr ehek

Urban Experience in the Fiction of Hanif Kureishi

Bachelors Diploma Thesis

Supervisor: Stephen Paul Hardy, Ph. D.


I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently, using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography. ..

Authors signature

Acknowledgement I would like to express many thanks to my supervisor Stephen Paul Hardy, Ph. D. for his valuable advice and kind support.

Table of Contents
Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 5 1. 2. 3. The Buddha of Suburbia ....................................................................................... 8 The Black Album ................................................................................................ 18 Intimacy .............................................................................................................. 27

Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 36 Bibliography ................................................................................................................... 40

Introduction Should people pursue their own happiness at the expense of others? Or should they be unhappy so others can be happy? Theres no one who hasnt had to confront this problem. (Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia 76) The work of the famous British novelist, playwright and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi is closely connected with the fascinating environment of the multicultural London in the last decades of the 20th century. As opposed to the traditional notion of the old good England, which is mostly associated with the rural, pastoral England, Kureishi, by celebrating the urban culture full of contradictions, asserts that being British isnt what it was (Lee 77), because as individuals reinvent their identities, so too must nations (Kaleta 3). Although, with view to his origin and ethnic setting of many of his works, Kureishi is sometimes classified as a postcolonial writer, his work is also deeply rooted in the English culture and traditions. First and foremost, however, irrespective of their ethnic or class origin, Kureishi describes all people as individuals, seeing who they are and dreaming who they want to be (Kaleta 3). Hanif Kureishi was born on 5th December 1954 to a Pakistani father and an English mother. Thanks to the liberal views of his parents, Kureishis childhood in the suburban district of Bromley in London may be called a typical English childhood in many respects. Attending Bromley Technical High School, Kureishi developed a liking for music, movies as well as cricket and football. At the age of fifteen he decided to be a writer. His attraction to cosmopolitan lifestyle was further encouraged by reading philosophy at Kings College in London, where he finally took a degree. Simultaneously, he started writing plays for theatre. Later on, he turned to the cinema. Insisting that contemporary cinema must reflect social and political reality (Kaleta 39), he drew on authentic experiences from London streets in his scripts, the

most renowned of them being My Beautiful Launderette (1985) and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987). His first novel, The Buddha of Suburbia was awarded the Whitbread Prize for the best first novel in 1990. In his next novel, The Black Album (1995), Kureishi took a firm stand against religious fundamentalism raised in response to Rushdies The Satanic Verses. Apart from ethnic issues, all of Kureishis works, such as the controversial novel Intimacy (1998) or the collection of short stories Love in a Blue Time (1997), are concerned with problems of marriage and intimate personal relationships on the background of the rapidly developing society. In the framework of the overall conflict between liberal and conservative values, Kureishis characters struggle to solve the essential dilemma - whether to maintain ones individuality and natural desire for freedom and independence, or accept all kinds of rules and restrictions necessary for the integration in the society. Significantly, it is the urban environment, as a complex of attitudes, habits, customs, expectancies, and hopes that reside in us as urban subjects (Chambers 183), where this struggle is particularly intense. Kureishis writings well illustrate Chambers characterization of the metropolitan experience as confusion and breaking of codes, disrespect for previous authorities, boundaries and rules (193). His stories glorify urban street culture and vilify yesterdays rationales (Kaleta 255). At heart of the disrespect and rebellion, however, is the basic human need of happiness and meaning in life. In my thesis, I will focus on the life stories of Kureishis characters to find out the means by which they assert themselves and fulfil their dreams in the society in which recognized values and truths seem not to work any longer. Do they follow their personal wishes consistently, or must they inevitably conform to regulations imposed by others? Does the pluralistic society guarantee more personal happiness, or does it merely raise new kinds of problems? Personally, Hanif Kureishi is a strong opponent of

fundamental and infallible dogmas of any kind; at the same time, however, he does not portray a black-and-white world in which unrestricted human freedom alone would be able to secure better life. While fundamental teachings provide their followers with illusive security, liberalism always means uncertainty, provisionality, and lifelong quest. Nevertheless, in spite of all disappointment, there is always hope, for which life is worth living. In my thesis, I will focus on the first three novels by Hanif Kureishi. The main character of The Buddha of Suburbia (1990), Karim Amir, is a teenager living in the suburbs, dreaming of the glamorous life in the city, full of pleasures and opportunities. Finally, he enters the world of his dreams; yet the price for his success is inadvertent disillusionment. The Black Album (1995) tells a story of Shahid Hasan, a university student who must decide between his admiration for the western culture, as well as his teacher Deedee Osgood, and the desire to help his people in the white society, which unwillingly brings him to a fundamentalist group. The third novel, Intimacy (1998), is a disturbingly forthright household drama, in which a middle-aged man makes a decision between adherence to his wife and children, and sexual lust for his lover. In addition to different topics, the novels are also set in three different decades at the end of the 20th century, which enables still another way of their comparison. Throughout the thesis, I will draw on the observations of Kenneth C. Kaleta, Associate Professor of Radio, TV and Film at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, whose biographical book Hanif Kureishi: Postcolonial Storyteller provides a first-hand insight into Kureishis life and work.

1. The Buddha of Suburbia Published in 1990, The Buddha of Suburbia is the first, and probably bestknown, novel by Hanif Kureishi. Telling the story of an adolescent boy born to an Anglo-Asian family living in London suburbs, the novel has a discernible autobiographical source (Kaleta 62). Kureishi and his protagonist, Karim Amir, share not only their ethnic origin and suburban childhood, but also the period when they grew up and, above all, the influences which shaped them. There is, however, one major difference. As Kaleta observes, Kureishi wanted to be a writer as early as the age of fifteen (74); Karim, on the other hand, is a restless and easily bored teenager (Buddha 3) who is only looking for his place in the society. According to Kaleta, The Buddha of Suburbia follows the long-lasting English tradition of initiation novels which treat the process of maturation. In them, the protagonist, an adolescent, is exposed to the hypocrisy and cruelty of adult society and, eventually, recognizes that conformity to its rules is necessary (34). Apparently, the characters of The Buddha of Suburbia well illustrate the basic dilemma of modern man choice between the desire for freedom and independence, and the necessity to comply with all kinds of rules imposed by the society. In accordance with the main objective of my thesis, I will follow Karims struggle to assert himself in the fascinating, yet sometimes relentless, multicultural environment of modern London, characterized by his drive for success and recognition as against the desperate adolescent urge to fit in (Kaleta 190). Moreover, I will also focus on the lives of the members of Karims family, both the English and Asian ones, to find out how they respond to the turbulent 1970s, when, according to Kaleta, old morals and taboos annihilated (82). Significantly, this search reveals one of the characteristic features of Kureishis work resolute dismissal of any typification, social,

political or ethnic, and strong belief in peoples individuality. Even people of the same social background, like Karims father Haroon and his uncle Anwar, are portrayed as distinctive characters, each of whom, regardless of the traditions he adheres to, finds his own peculiar life philosophy, At the beginning of the story, Karim Amir is a seventeen-year-old boy, who is going somewhere, being ready for anything. He characterizes himself as an Englishman born and bred (Buddha 3), to whom the Rolling Stones definitely appeal more than the lunacies of his father and uncle. On no account could Karim be called a pattern young man; on the contrary, he is vain, arrogant and self-centred (Kaleta 116), with hardly any sense of purpose. Symptomatically, he expresses the feelings of the suburban youths by confessing: We didnt want money. What for? We could get by, living off parents, friends or the State. And if we were going to be bored, and we were usually bored, rarely being self-motivated, we could at least be bored on our own terms, lying smashed on mattresses in ruined houses rather than working in the machine. (Buddha 94-5) Living in a pitiless environment which constantly reminds him of his blackness, Karim has learned to respond in his own way, by scathing sarcasm with which he comments on almost everything and everyone, including his father; by seizing day-today opportunities for sexual and other pleasures, and ridiculing those less witty than himself. Again, according to Kaleta, The Buddha of Suburbia continues the tradition in the English novel that emphasises antisocial elements, sexual excess and adolescent rebellion as rites of initiation (77). In spite of his apparent shortcomings, however, Karim remains an idealistic, innocent boy, hoping for a better future, completely unaware of the true face of the society of which he dreams.

Significantly, the novel is divided into two parts, titled In the Suburbs and In the City, which reflect two contradictory views in Karims mind. The suburbs, where he has spent all his life so far, are the place of submission, dullness and frustration. Looking out of his bedroom window at dawn, Karim is reminded of how much he loathes the suburbs, and that he has to continue his journey into London and a new life, ensuring he gets away from people and streets like this (Buddha 101). The city, on the contrary, is the place where individuals choose to dress and present themselves as individuals (Marwick 245). There, according to Karim, you have to live your own life in your own way and not according to your family (Buddha 62). No wonder that, expecting a life full of opportunities and temptations, Karim wants his life to begin now, at this instant (62). The moment at which he finally moves with his father and Eva to the city is the turning point in his life. Similarly to other works by Hanif Kureishi, it is the father who personifies the authority from which the young man wants to escape. Years ago, Haroon Amir, together with his brother Anwar, came to England from Bombay, where he used to enjoy life surrounded by crowds of servants. Instead of graduating in medicine, he has become an ordinary civil servant married to a white woman. Later on, in Karims words, as they aged and seemed settled here, Anwar and Dad appeared to be returning internally to India, or at least to be resisting the English here (Buddha 64). According to Karim, this is plain illusion in the head (60). With his typical humour and irony, Karim observes the transformation of his father, who is even unable to work out the London bus routes, into a spiritual leader pledging to deliver the path to true enlightenment (78); whose elaborate spiritual performances are offset by his dominating, but strangely innocent narcism (Connor 95). It is only at the end of the story when the mature Karim realizes that Haroon is not the crushing protective monster with infinite power


(Buddha 228), but just another man, whose ascetic philosophy, nevertheless, might be sincere (Kaleta 185). The emergence of Haroon Amir as the Buddha of Suburbia, whose eastern philosophy attracts the middle-class English, clearly demonstrates one of the phenomena which affected peoples attitudes to themselves and their position in the society; namely, the expansion of self-religions which proliferated during the late 1970s and during the 1980s (Heelas 139). Kaleta calls the 1970s the decade in search of itself (83) when, unlike the rebellious 1960s, almost everyone behaved like a teenager; even people with jobs and responsibilities used to smoke marijuana and wear bell-bottom trousers and floppy-collared shirts (Kaleta 83). The interest in eastern religions is closely related to what Heelas calls the shift from public to private (psychological) identity provision. Furthermore, Heelas, a Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion at the University of Lancaster, specializing in the study of self-understanding, summarizes the main message of the self-religions in his essay The Sacralization of the Self and New Age Capitalism, saying: what matters is liberating the self from baneful, externally derived, contaminations, what matters is exorcising those tapes or mind sets which society has implanted in the ego and which it is held render people inauthentic and rigid (142). In conformity with the above message, Haroon Amir teaches his disciples to follow their feelings, intuition and desire; do whatever pleases them; and, under no circumstances make an effort, because all effort is ignorance. There is innate wisdom. Only do what you love (Buddha 49). Concisely, Haroon preaches a provocative idea, which seems to be the central issue of many Kureishis works, that only unhappiness is gained by acting in accordance with duty, or obligations, or guilt, or the desire to please


others (Buddha 76). Apparently, in the self-religions, the original eastern philosophy has been tailored to the typically western individualism. In accordance with his teaching, Haroon decides to leave his wife Margaret and start a new life with Eva Kay, an energetic woman with whom, to his surprise, he could share his China things (Buddha 28). Since that moment, Karim has been filled with mixed feelings on one hand, as a loving son, he understands that father has hurt his mother and basically disapproves of his deed. On the other hand, he cannot help admiring Eva for her independent and extraordinary character, which reminds him of the difference between the interesting people and the nice people. Despite her obvious snobbishness, Karim realizes that if he sees something or hears a piece of music, or visits a place, he wont be content until Eva has made him see it in a certain way Then there are the nice people who arent interesting, and you dont want to know what they think of anything (Buddha 93). To the young suburban Karim, Eva represents the only connection to the world of unlimited opportunity which he wants to enter. Paradoxically, no sooner do they move to the city than he realizes that, by her frenzy activities, she wants to scour the suburban stigma right off her body, not seeing that there can be nothing more suburban than suburbanites repudiating themselves (Buddha 134). For the first time, Karim recognizes conformity as a necessary concession on the way to the higher society. Selfish and irresponsible as Karim may seem, there is one person about whom he is sincerely concerned his mother Margaret. Contrary to Eva, she rarely has a chance to give her opinion in the novel, except for crying, My life is terrible, terrible! Doesnt anyone understand? after having discovered her husbands infidelity. Still, her presence in Karims mind is perceptible even at the time when he optionally lives with


his father in Evas spectacular house. Observing their relationship, he is pondering on the nature of love: Watching this, I was developing my own angry theories of love. Surely love had to be something more generous than this high-spirited egotism-deux? In their hands love seemed a narrow-eyed, exclusive, selfish bastard, to enjoy itself at the expense of a woman who now lay in bed in Auntie Jeans house, her life unconsidered. Mums wretchedness was the price Dad had chosen to pay for his happiness. (Buddha 116) Notwithstanding the liberal time and environment he lives in, not to mention his own boisterous nature, Karim acts and thinks in a surprisingly conservative way when it comes to the happiness of his mother. Undoubtedly, there is at least one person who has found an entirely new way of life thanks to the fathers eccentric philosophy. At the beginning, Karim considers his uncle Ted a born coward and nervous as hell shit-scared of confrontations or arguments of any kind (Buddha 42). Ted is a typical hen-pecked husband, who only asserts himself occasionally by stabbing and tearing seats on the train when travelling from a football match. Unlike his possessive wife Jean, however, Ted senses that Dad is wise, and starts to confide in him. Quite unexpectedly, after fathers appeal to let the house fall down (49), Ted undergoes a profound change and, to Jeans great resentment, becomes the main executor of all ambitious modifications in Evas household. Teds story, therefore, well illustrates that the original, basically anti-social, Hippies interest in eastern culture in the 1960s was gradually adopted by the middleclass in the 1970s. Whereas Uncle Ted has been influenced by the eastern philosophy of his brother-in-law, it is interesting to observe how the decade, which was characterized by


a progressive breaking down of rigid stereotypes in social relationships (Marwick 245) affected the family of Karims Indian uncle Anwar. Typically, Kureishi portrays Anwars personality as completely different from that of his brothers; and his personal development as totally contradictory to that of not only Haroon, but also Ted. Attached to their grocers shop, Anwar and his wife Jeeta know nothing of the outside world (Buddha 51). Still, Karim admits that he once liked Anwar, because he was so casual about everything, he wasnt perpetually anxious like his parents (Buddha 60). Religiously, Karim has never known Anwar believe in anything; so it seems bizarre to him when he finds him behaving like a Muslim (64). Growing old, Anwar seeks security in adherence to tradition, discipline and patriarchal authority. Little does he know about Jamila, there are just certain ways in which this woman who is his daughter has to behave (Buddha 81). Prepared to starve to death in the name of his principles, Anwar merely disintegrates his family. While Anwar may be called the most archetypal character in the novel, who in many ways accords with the white societys prejudicial notion of a backward Asian immigrant, his daughter Jamila seems to be the most purposeful and least conformable personality in the entire novel. Like Karim, she is a product of an environment with a youth culture syncretically both mainstream and ethnic (Lee 73); unlike Karim, she is politically, socially and ethnically conscious; influenced by all kinds of anarchists, visionaries and revolutionaries: Her feminism, the sense of self and fight it engendered, the schemes and plans she had, the relationships which she desired to take this form and not that form the things she had made herself know, and all the understanding it gave, seemed to illuminate her tonight as she went


forward, an Indian woman, to live a useful life in white England. (Buddha 216) At first, Jamila submits to her father and agrees to marry the imported husband Changez. In reality, she gains a complete control of her marriage which becomes a serio-comic testimony to the period in which, according to Giddens, a world-renowned scholar specializing in social theory, holding a chair in sociology at Cambridge University, sexuality became malleable, open to being shaped in diverse ways, and a potential property of the individual (27). Instead of taking over Anwars shop and patriarchal authority, the unfortunate Changez is finally made by the lesbian Jamila into a happy, increasingly feminized proxy-mother to her child (Lee 79), dreaming of romantic love in a community house. As mentioned above, the moment at which Karim, thanks to Eva, finally moves to the city means the fulfilment of his great dream and seems to be almost a new birth to him. On the eve of their departure he fantasizes in bed about London and what hell do there when the city belongs to him. He is looking forward to kids dressed in velvet cloaks who live free lives and all the drugs you can use (Buddha 121). Disillusionment comes slowly and gradually from the moment at which Karim first enters their new flat. Making new acquaintances, the ambitious Eva reminds his father that these people are used to argument, not assertion, to facts, not vapours (Buddha 151), revealing the opportunistic character of her organising the suburban spiritual sessions. Soon afterwards, Karims first lesson in conformism comes when he is reminded by director Shadwell that he has been cast for authenticity and not for experience (147). Making the first concession to his ambition, Karim, to Jamilas bitter discontent, has to adopt an Indian accent to suit the role of Mowgli to the taste of the


white audience. But it is not before he is engaged by the famous director Pyke that he starts to discover the true nature of the glamorous world he is eager to conquer. Paradoxically, Karim admits being possessed by what he used to despise in the suburbs fear of other peoples opinions; for now it is essential to him that Pyke and Tracey and the other others like his acting (Buddha 188). In comparison with them, he feels ashamed, knowing nothing, and intellectually void. He is infuriated by their confidence, easy talk and knowledge of the way round a whole culture, for which he loathes them and himself (177). Even Karims boyish desire for sexual adventures remains unfulfilled when he realizes the true nature of his romance with Eleanor. Originally, Eleanor was, as Kaleta asserts, a price of his ambition and way of assimilation into the white London scene (179). The more he falls in love with her, the more painful his disappointment is upon realizing that he has just been manipulated by Pyke. In the time when, as Giddens observes, sexuality has been discovered, opened up and made accessible to the development of varying life-styles, Karim has become a mere toy for Pyke, his wife Marlene, and even Eleanor. Completely disenchanted, Karim can see that although life has offered these people its lips , it is the kiss of death (Buddha 225). Nevertheless, ready to abandon his infantile dreams of absolute freedom and make compromises, Karim has finally grown into an adult man. In compliance with the initiation novel tradition, as a result of his London and New York experiences, Karim has passed from a schoolboy with a crush on Charlie Hero to a disillusioned groupie in the global rock society (Kaleta 35). Happy and miserable at the same time (77), he accepts a role in a soap opera because a lot of people will recognize him, although he is aware that this is just another in a series of compromises he has to make to take his place in the society. Realizing that his parents are just weak and vulnerable people like all others, he assumes a more responsible


attitude to them; he is even willing to admit that his fathers ascetic philosophy might be sincere (185). Definitely, he is certain now that his father will never lack employment while the city is full of lonely, unhappy, unconfident people who require guidance, support and pity (Buddha 279). Unavoidably, the boy who used to fantasize about the world according to his wishes is now ready to accept the real world including its hypocrisy and restrictions. Characteristically, The Buddha of Suburbia is an open-ended story. In keeping with his persuasion, Kureishi provides no answers regarding the right way of life, no unambiguous dogmas or moral lessons. Instead, he describes life as it is, in its variety, with the inherent contradictions of a pluralistic society (Kaleta 3). The novel illustrates the essential dilemma of modern man: on one hand, there is a greater and more flexible range of options (Marwick 250), not only with regard to marriage and sexuality, than ever before; on the other hand, in Karims words, we live, having no choice, as if that were not so, driving without brakes towards a brick wall (Buddha 233). Rejecting strict dogmas, nevertheless, Kureishi by no means proclaims cynicism as his life philosophy. Thinking of what a mess everything has been, Karim hopes that it will not always be that way. Hope persists perhaps in the future he will live more deeply (Buddha 284).


2. The Black Album The second novel by Hanif Kureishi, The Black Album, published in 1995, tells the story of a group of Asian university students in the uneasy year of 1989, after the notorious fatwah has been pronounced on Salman Rushdies The Satanic Verses (although the title and author are not explicitly named in the novel). As a man of strong opinions, Kureishi took a vocal stand against the censorship, violent threats and terrorism, and used his celebrity to bring attention to the controversy (Kaleta 121). By creating several distinctive characters, Kureishi raises pressing questions about the nature of democracy, sources of morale, sense of culture and religion in the present society, and, last but not least, the authenticity of love in the Western society, where traditional values have dwindled. The main character, Shahid Hasan, born to a family of Pakistani immigrants, has to solve a difficult dilemma between love and passion for his liberal-minded lecturer Deedee Osgood and his strong desire to belong and help his people to assert their rights. In my thesis, I will focus on Shahids dilemma, which illustrates the tension between the natural human desire to be accepted and respected by others, and submission to externally imposed rules as a necessary condition of such acceptance. Since the group led by the charismatic Riaz resembles a cult, I will try to find out, with the help of Deikmans book Them and Us: Cult Thinking and the Terrorist Threat, why people brought up in a free society decide to renounce their freedom in favour of seemingly infallible doctrines. Arthur J. Deikman is a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, famous for his research into new religious movements and cults. The contrast between Shahids fathers faith in work (Album 92) and the religious zeal of Chad and his companions further raises the issue of the reasons leading the second-generation immigrants back to their roots. Significantly, in accordance with


his other works, Kureishi resolutely rejects any simple solutions based on typification Shahid, his family and friends, all of them possess specific characteristics and respond to the issues in their own specific way. Similarly to Karim Amir in The Buddha of Suburbia, Shahid Hasan can be called a restless young man who wants a new start with new people in a new place (Album 16). Unlike Karim, however, Shahid is a more responsible and mature person, not primarily interested in pleasures of life; instead, despite the incomprehension of his family, he wants to be challenged intellectually and in every other way (Album 5). Although dissatisfied with the official school system where books are stuck down the throats like biscuits (Album 74), he is fascinated by the enormous treasure of arts and literature, of which most of the white people are totally unaware. He has lost interest in most of his friends, and even come to despise some of them for their lack of hope (Album 26). Therefore, after his fathers death, he leaves the family business in Kent and starts to study at a university in London. Nevertheless, the deceased father continues to exert influence on Shahid. Contrary to the traditional notion of a Pakistani immigrant, Shahids father was a totally assimilated businessman devoted to consumerism and profit making. As a competent business agent, he hated anything old-fashioned, unless it charmed tourists. He wanted to tear down the old; he liked progress (Album 39). Understandingly, he had no sympathy for his sons unproductive studiousness because these artist types are always poor and Shahid would not be able to look his relatives in the face (Album 75). Despite the familys modernity, however, Shahid is still an heir to the culture in which the discipline of the father tied the child to tradition, to a particular definition of the past; authority in this situation remained largely dogmatic assertion (Giddens 107). As such, Shahid continues to both adore and oppose his father even after his death. Not


long ago, he wanted to be like his father, he even remembers copying the authoritative way Papa walked. In his internal struggle, however, Shahid finally has to admit that Papa was wrong and find his own direction, whatever that is (Album 76). Characteristically of Kureishis works, it is primarily the fathers power from which the individual must emancipate to be able to fulfil his dreams. Peculiar as Shahids father may have been, his disapproval of Shahids interests is not the only discrepancy in the family. Unlike his hard-working father, Shahids brother Chili is a typical playboy, whose relentless passion has always been for clothes, girls, cars, girls and the money that bought them (Album 41). Being married to a woman from a rich Pakistani family, he is used to dining with politicians, bankers, businessmen, film producers (Album 86). Yet his bohemian nature drives him into the streets of London, where he spends nights in clubs, and drug dealers readily accept his cheques. Boasting that he has hardly ever read a book, Chili rejects not only religious duties, but virtually any limitations. Surprisingly, even his wife Zulma, who regularly spends some time in Karachi, behaves like an emancipated English woman, strongly disapproving of Shahids religious involvement. Despite the obvious differences, however, it is his family background that has formed Shahids liberal views, and will finally help him solve his difficult dilemma. With view to the liberal environment in which Shahid was brought up, as well as his deep admiration for western culture, it may seem surprising that he has been involved in a strict religious group since his arrival in London. In general, Shahids conversion, like that of many other second-generation immigrants, seems to be a result of external pressure rather than his own decision. Paradoxically, the middle-class Englishman Shahid has constantly been reminded of his ethnicity since his childhood, experiencing a lot of fear and humiliation. In the chapter on race and ethnicity in


London, included in London: A New Metropolitan Geography, edited by Keith Hoggart et al., Emrys Jones, the Emmeritus Professor at London School of Economics, asserts that the immigrants have been looked upon as competitors for scarce resources (188). Consequently, the tense, often threatening situation in which immigrants find themselves has had the effect of strengthening their communal identity. In London, as in many other British cities, this tension has led to open conflict on numerous occasions, which in turn, has highlighted the existence of racial prejudice. (Jones 188) At the beginning, Riazs group did not seem like a cult to Shahid; instead, he was fascinated by their work for the needy families. For Shahid, these days of stifling, selfsodden uselessness wouldnt return. He was going to do something (Album 72). Essentially, it was his open-minded nature, not a terrorist disposition, which made him a proud member of the foreign legion (83). Nevertheless, Shahids temporary submission to the group has deeper reasons as well. In his book on cult thinking, Deikman asserts that most social groups of this kind share characteristics of family groups with members who occupy dominant (parent) and subordinate (child) roles (34). For Shahid, Riazs group may be a substitute for his dissatisfactory family relationships because Riaz and Hat and Chat are the first people hes met who are like him, he doesnt have to explain anything. Chad trusts him, Hat has called him brother. He is closer to the gang than he is to his own family (Album 57). Only too late does he realize that this group, in conformity with Deikmans observations, asks him to devote increasing amounts of time and energy to the group activities, relationships outside the group become difficult to maintain, and critical evaluation of the leader is almost impossible (Deikman 7). Besides the peer pressure,


however, there is also a strong emotional attachment which Shahid must overcome to free himself from the group. Following the family theory of cults, it is interesting to observe how Kureishi portrays the individual members of the Asian students community. Authoritatively, Riaz is the indisputable leader and the most charismatic character without whom the group would cease to exist. Being able to impress and stimulate, he recognizes that Shahid is searching for something (Album 5), which is the main characteristic of people joining cults. Contrary to Shahids family, interested only in business and luxury, Riaz has lived and worked with the people, showing them their rights (6). In Shahids idealistic view, Riaz associates scholarship, study and the thirst for knowledge with goodness (14). Only later, upon closer look, Shahid recognizes that Riazs smile is disdain (98); when Riaz speaks, there is no debate, only soft questions (96). Gradually, Shahid starts to uncover the true nature of this unscrupulous man who has even denounced his own father for drinking alcohol (109). Riaz had little: no wife or children, career, hobby, house or possessions. The meaning of his life was his creed and the idea that he knew the truth about how people should live. It was this simple-mindedness that made him powerful and, to Shahid now, rather pitiful. (173-4) Yet to the very last moment, Shahid believes in Riazs essential humanity, hoping to divert him from attacking Deedee Osgood. Symbolically, Riaz definitely loses all power over Shahid when forced to take off Chilis shirt, at which point Shahid recognizes his human weakness and vulnerability. Unlike the impressive Riaz, Chad is a futile and ruthless executor of the leaders will. Raised as Trevor Buss in a white family, Chads soul was lost in translation (Album 108) when he tried to establish his identity when he got up to be a teenager,


he saw he had no roots, no connections with Pakistan, couldnt even speak the language (107). To solve this painful crisis, Chad has faithfully adhered to Riaz and his unquestionable truths. By condemning books, music, and entertainment in general, for seemingly religious reasons, Chad simply masks his lack of compassion and sympathy for others. Although he accuses the music and fashion industries of telling people what to wear, where to go, what to listen to (Album 79), Chad is simultaneously eager to control others - Chad assumes that Shahid is their possession, they want to own him entirely, not a part of him can elude them (128). Thus, for Chad, escaping from one kind of subjugation means implementation of another totalitarian system. While Riaz and Chad, in spite of proclaiming love, consider religion mostly a matter of discipline and dogmatic truths, Hat tries to find the kinder side to religious faith. In fact, he is the only member of the group to regret having attacked Shahid in Deedees house. Although appalled by Shahids liberal opinions, Hat parts with him in a more or less friendly way, promising that he will only show love and consideration for others (271). The reason for Hats humanity seems to lie in his family environment while Riaz and Chad share their contempt of their families, Hat is loved by his parents who are worried about his future. Evidently, Hats case attests to the fact that people with strong relationships are less likely to be possessed by cults. Definitely, Shahids love for his teacher Deedee Osgood seems to be crucial for his final renunciation of Riazs militant methods. In all regards, Deedee is entirely contradictory to Riaz. She, too, is frustrated by the lack of her students inner belief (Album 30); instead of leading them like immature persons, however, she always stimulates them to think (135); instead of presenting them with a final set of opinions, she encourages her students to study anything that takes their interest (26). Noticeably, Deedee follows on the character of Haroon Amir in The Buddha of


Suburbia by preaching that all limitations are prisons (25) a controversial idea which is one of the major issues of Kureishis works. Sexually, however, Deedee is the dominant person, who finds in Shahid her dream lover devoted, innocent, and prolific; while being simultaneously the dream lover for him knowing, inventive, and erotic (Kaleta 124). Yet she is aware that she is too much for him, that she can overwhelm him (207), because he can be made to do things an older man wouldnt (124). At the end of the novel, however, the lovers temporarily assume traditional gender roles, when Shahid hurries along the streets to protect Deedee from his former companions, and she affectionately makes him breakfast. Although the prospects of their future relationship are very uncertain, Shahid, after an uneasy internal struggle, finally chooses uncertainty as a price for freedom. Throughout the novel, Shahid is depicted as an irresolute, wavering person. One day he can passionately think one thing, the next day the opposite (Album 147). Feeling that he cannot leave his friends because they are his people fighting for a just cause, he is anxious about his lack of faith (96). Being in doubt and afraid to ask too many questions, Shahid decides to follow the prescriptions and be patient because understanding will certainly follow (96); he even resolves to leave Deedee before more feeling is released (132). As long as Shahid is with his friends, he is enthusiastic and confident; being alone, however, he cannot help feeling like someone leaving a cinema, he finds the world to be more subtle and inexplicable (133) The conflict between the group of radical Asian students and the liberal society represented by Deedee Osgood raises a topical question about the source of morality. For Riaz, morality is fixed, unquestionable, otherwise a moral chaos would necessarily follow. According to Roger Scruton, a conservative British philosopher and barrister-at-law, whose book The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist


Threat compares, among others, the essentially incompatible opinions of European and Eastern societies on family life and social hierarchy in general, many immigrants are drawn to their ancestral faith, which offers a vision of blamelessness and moral security they find nowhere in the public space (105). The western society, on the other hand, has undergone a radical change since the Middle Ages with their strong emphasis on identity provided in terms of the established social order (Heelas 148). Significantly, it is the field of arts where Kureishi finds this conflict most vigorous. For Shahid, arts stimulate thinking and teach us to view the world; for Chad, in common with all totalitarians, arts, and popular culture in particular, are vanity and waste of time. Shahids final decision confirms Chambers observation that if you live in a black-and-white world, and prefer the security of an abstract utopia, to the potential of the present, then contemporary popular culture merely seems to be the predictable product of capitalism and consumerism of Britain going down the drain. Yet self-righteously to castigate this culture and its forms of consumption is to miss the point. Mentally to extract ourselves from it, to turn our back to what is actually happening, is to live an intellectual lie (Chambers 190). However deeply Shahid longs for security and purpose in life, it is, paradoxically, his moral integrity that prevents him from accepting tailored opinions and solutions. Generally, as far as The Black Album is concerned, Kaleta observes that Kureishi more plainly reveals his strong political liberalism in this second novel (23). Despite his firm opinions, however, Kureishi never resorts to a black-and-white portrayal of his characters. For him, members of any group - political, religious, age or ethnic are still individuals in a group (227), with their positive and negative traits; Kureishi is even able to celebrate hybridity without regularising it as a form


(Connor 98). Moreover, as Shahid recognizes, there is no fixed self; surely our several selves melt and mutate daily (Album 274). Day by day, Shahid is forced to question how genuine, consistent, conforming, and defensible any belief is, whether it is the belief in love, in family, in religion, or in art (Kaleta 138), with uncertainty and provisionality as a necessary result of such questioning. This uncertainty, however, is by no means a negative phenomenon for Shahid (and Kureishi), because maybe wisdom will come from what we dont know, rather than from confidence (Album 227).


3. Intimacy Contrary to his previous two novels, in which Kureishi created a colourful mosaic of characters forming the multicultural society of London, Intimacy, published in 1998, takes place in one household, or rather, in the mind of the protagonist, a middle-aged man called Jay, during one night, the saddest night of his life (Intimacy 3), when he is both there and not there almost a ghost, already (12). In the morning he is going to leave his wife Susan and two sons, move to his friends flat, and later perhaps join his young lover Nina. Playing the common role of a husband and father, Jay undergoes a painful struggle between his wish to follow his natural desires and the sense of duty instilled into him by his parents and the society. During this night he recollects his father as well as a few of his friends who, significantly to Kureishi, hold quite contradictory opinions on the issues of love, marriage and sexuality. Despite its different setting, therefore, Intimacy again tries to solve Kureishis basic dilemma of whether to seek happiness by making the others unhappy, or sacrifice ones freedom in their favour. For the purpose of my thesis, I will compare and contrast the attitudes of Jay, his father, and his friends Victor and Asif to the above mentioned dilemma, contextualizing them with the general development of public opinion on the issues of marriage and family in the British society after the sexual revolution and introduction of more liberal legislation in the 1960s. Apart from the above mentioned book by Giddens, I will draw on several other studies viewing the problem from different perspectives. Arthur Marwick is a Professor of History at the Open University, whose book British Society Since 1945 primarily deals with social and cultural issues. On the contrary, Stuart A. Queen, the former President of the American Sociological Society, together with his colleagues, examines the overall development of family over time in The Family in


Various Cultures. Diana Leonard, a teacher of sociology at the University of London, specializing in gender research, observes the family problems from feminist perspective in her essay Women in the Family: Companions or Caretakers? included in the book Women in Britain Today edited by Veronica Beechey et al. Focusing on Jays and Victors lives on the one hand, and that of Asif on the other, I will try to find out which one of them in fact, according to Kureishi, is more content and fulfilled. Characteristically, in spite of admitting Asifs internal integrity and the fathers essential goodness, Kureishi does not disclaim the uncontrollable power of human desires which cannot be composed by external rules and traditions. Although, at the beginning of the novel, Jay proclaims his firm decision to leave his family the next morning, his thoughts and reflections up to the decisive moment reveal his uncertainty; being in at least three minds about everything (4), he is unable to inform his wife about his decision directly, so his departure, if any, will be an escape rather than a well-considered act of an adult man. Looking at his bathing sons, he is well aware of the fact that he is going to hurt them. Being afraid of getting too comfortable in his own house (47), it is primarily himself that he has to convince of the legitimacy of his decision. Although his relationship to Nina seems to be completely different from the unsatisfactory life with Susan, Jay doubts about the point of his leaving if this failure reproduces itself with every woman (61). Even in the act of actually leaving, Jay still runs to pick up the dry-cleaning for Susan. In Intimacy, therefore, the struggle between independence and conformity takes a psychological form; the main character has to overcome his double-mindedness rather than external opponents. Specifically, Jay and Susans partnership exemplifies Leonards observation that there is a tension between the idea that the family is a unit with shared aims and


interests and the fact that the individual members of a family often have conflicting needs and desires (Leonard 8). Unlike Jay, who is rather a disorganized man believing in individualism and despising authority of any kind, Susan is an effective, organized woman (Intimacy 28), who has strong, considered opinions (29), and would never lapse into inner chaos (31). Although Jay admits liking her humdrum dexterity and ability to cope (29), his bohemian nature becomes more and more dissatisfied with their monotonous life. The incompatibility of their characters is best illustrated by Jays observation: Susan thinks we live in a selfish age In love, these days, it is a free market; browse and buy, pick and choose, rent and reject, as you like. Theres no sexual or social security; everyone has to take care of themselves, or not. Fulfilment, self-expression and creativity are the only values. (69) Not surprisingly, it is Susan who has, unsuccessfully, tried to persuade Jay to marry her. Their relationship also illustrates the general development of family life, characterized by Queen as a transition from institution to companionship (Queen 273). Contrary to

the old, standard type of marriage, in which the male used marriage as a place from
which to operate, while the wife organised the means for his settled existence (Queen 155), modern notion of marriage (or cohabitation) lays stress on relationship, meaning a close and continuing emotional tie to another (Queen 58). The absence of this tie, according to Jay, provides a sufficient reason for breaking any formal relationship. Personally, since his childhood, Jay has never been a man who would do things because he is forced to do them. In spite of his love for his sons, he generally considers the family to be a machine for the suppression and distortion of free individuals (72). Jays liberal-minded attitudes perfectly confirm Giddens observations on the essential


differences between mens expectations on family life. While, as late as the 1950s, it was generally expected that a man would get married and support a wife, otherwise he would have been in some way suspect; in the 1990s, when Intimacy takes place, a single man could enjoy the fruits of his work without the social requirement of a wife or established home (Giddens 151). Accordingly, to overcome his doubts, Jay encourages himself to think of the pleasures of being a single man in London (Intimacy 15). Symptomatically, the urban setting is crucial for Jays life and decisions. According to Queen, we have not been urbanites for long, and many of our values are rooted in the past, in a cultural tradition that was not urban (Queen 273). Controversial as this idea may seem, it is undoubtedly the urban environment where the most radical changes of established values take place, and where Jay or Nina have naturally chosen to live. Apart from the carefree Nina, who wakes up in the morning and wonders what she feels like doing that day (88), there are two particular persons whom Jay has entrusted with his intentions to leave his family and whose opinions he takes into consideration during his uneasy decision-making process. Suggestively, Victor, who left his wife eight years ago, shares Jays life philosophy in many respects by not omitting a moment (Intimacy 15). Setting an example to Jay, Victor yearns for quality of life, by which he means a quality of feeling, not things (75). Unrestrained as Victors life may seem, Jay is nevertheless aware of some negative aspects of his former resolution. With regard to his ex-wife and children, Victor is still repairing the damage (115); moreover, he finds his deed unforgivable for the suffering which he caused to them (134). Even more peculiarly, Victor has had only unsatisfactory loves since then (6). Apparently, he has to pay high price for his longed-for freedom.


In contradiction to the liberal-minded Victor, the other close friend of Jays, Asif, maintains a strictly conservative position as far as family matters are concerned. Although, for Asif, marriage is not explicitly a divinely sanctioned duty, it is by no means a defeasible human choice (Scruton 69) either. Disturbingly to Jay, who is constantly yearning for something better, Asif claims that wisdom is to know the value of what we have (131). Significantly, Asif avoids coming to the city often, disliking the rush and uproar (Intimacy 38). Jay observes that Asif is a rare man, unafraid of admitting his joy (40). On the one hand, Jay regards Asif as his good friend, admitting his integrity and principle; on the other, however, there is certain estrangement between them, as Jay feels that he cant get a grip on him, as he can with Victor (40). While Jay does not understand why people like Asif should assume that their way of life is the only one (42); Asif, ignorant of the internal passions driving Jay, believes Jays escape to be a matter of only a few days. Nevertheless, however doubtful Jay is about the legitimacy of his decision, there is still one thing he fears more than the qualms of conscience which sometimes strike Victor the everyday routine, monotony and necessity to observe the accepted code of rules (Intimacy 29). According to him, confinement and regularity make people mentally sick (29). Observing other people, Jay notices that some of them have been depressed for most of their lives, and have accepted a condition of relative unhappiness as if it is their due (14). Unlike the orderly Asif, for whom marriage is a reason for living, despite being also a terrible journey (43), the uncompromising Jay rejects to accept any but the inspiring and liberating aspects of life. Markedly, his passionate love for Nina is the main source of such liberation for Jay, because, as Giddens asserts, passionate love is marked by an urgency which sets it apart from the routines of everyday life with which, indeed, it tends to come into conflict (37). At the same time,


however, Giddens warns that having sex with a new partner may be the start of the fateful encounter which is sought after, but more than likely it is not (50). Therefore, in line with other Kureishis characters, and in contradiction to Asif, Jay has to accept uncertainty as a necessary condition of liberty. Taking all the pros and cons into consideration, there is still one important issue about which Jay and his friends are concerned; namely, the destiny of their children. In her study of the changing male and female roles in the modern British society, Leonard observes that fathers are now more concerned with children as valued objects, being to enjoy and help develop as individuals (56), which is certainly true of Jay. In spite of all his shortcomings, even Susan cannot deny his genuine affection towards their two little sons. Delighted at his sons staring admiringly at him and fighting to sit beside him (Intimacy 54), Jay realizes how they resemble him, and what quality of innocence people have when they dont expect to be hurt (10). He cannot help thinking about the reaction of his sons to his sudden departure, asking himself whether he could violate them without damaging himself (10). Indeed, Victor has never recovered from such an act. For Asif, whose child only luckily survived in hospital, is the idea of leaving ones children totally unimaginable. At any rate, Jay knows that separation from his sons will be the most severe sacrifice he must make. Unavoidably, thoughts about his sons lead Jay to recollect his own father. Like in other works by Kureishi, the father, even after his death, represents authority that the son both admires and tries to emancipate from. In Jays opinion, his father was there to impose himself, to guide, exert discipline and enjoy his children (Intimacy 115). Significantly, nothing was allowed to happen until he made it (60). At the same time, however, Jay realizes how much he has in common with his father the writers Dad preferred are still his favourites and, more notably, despite Jays liberal-mindedness,


they kept one another company for years (54). At his time, father, together with other neighbourhood men, had to do an unsatisfactory job; the main conclusion that Jay has drawn from his example is that life is a struggle, and that struggle gets you nowhere and is neither recognized nor rewarded (57); the idea which Jay bitterly resents. Knowing that after a lot of problems his parents were able to find a new intimacy (61), Jay tries to imagine what his father would have said to his intentions, being at the same time too aware of his resolute disapproval. In fact, his father would have been horrified by his skulking off (55); because for him to be accused of disloyalty would have been like being called a thief (56). Although the divergent opinions of the father and his son can be explained by the generational gap and different times at which they lived, Jay is still conscious of the fact that his father was basically a good man, whose kindness he lacks (55). The ideological conflict between Jay and his deceased father illustrates the basic inconsistence of personal wants and desires, which have been playing an increasing role in human relations for the last few decades, and the externally imposed Victorian sense of duty as perceived by the previous generations. To begin with, in contradiction to the past, husbands and wives choose each other on the basis of romantic attraction and stay together from affection (Leonard 17). Further, in the post-war period, popular literature put increasing stress on the importance of the sexual aspect of marriage. Good lovemaking was seen as cementing the tie between husband and wife (Leonard 18). The lack of this tie, as in Jays case, questions the legitimacy of marriage as an institution. Moreover, the sexual revolution was contingent on what Giddens calls the creation of plastic sexuality, severed from its age-old integration with reproduction, kinship and the generations (27). In Intimacy, Kureishi even intensifies the above mentioned facts by stressing the ambivalent role of desire which, in Jays opinion, is at


the root of life (Intimacy 97) because we are yearning creatures, a bag of insistent wants (80). Concisely, Jay gives reasons why desire may be such a controversial and tabooed subject. Desire is naughty and doesnt conform to our ideals, which is why we have such a need of them. Desire mocks all human endeavour and makes it worthwhile. Desire is the original anarchist and undercover agent no wonder people want it arrested and kept in a safe place. And just when we think weve got desire under control it lets us down or fills us with hope. Desire makes me laugh because it makes fools of us all. (44) Finally, it is the search for self-identity, for an ever-elusive sense of completion (Giddens 176) which drives Jay to escape from the emptiness, imagining that with every woman he can start afresh be a different person, if not a new one for a time (19). Typically, Kureishi provides no definite clue as to whether Jays imagination is right and his desire will be fulfilled, or, after all, his fathers philosophy and Asifs contentment are a safer way to happiness. In spite of its modest setting and a small number of characters, Intimacy raises the pressing issues about the limits of human freedom and self-determination more intensely, and also more provocatively, than Kureishis previous two novels; in part because Kureishi lets two innocent children to be involved in and affected by the ruthless world of the adults, without any trashy happy-ending. Nevertheless, as Kaleta asserts, Kureishi creates a world that is true, he does not promote a world that is more to his liking (14). At the saddest night, Jays predominant emotion is fear of the future (Intimacy 14). At the same time, however, he tries to convince himself that nothing interesting happens without daring (50). His friend Asif considers his behaviour selfish; his father would be terrified. Unlike them, Jay refuses any Arcadian


fantasy that there will be a time when everyone will finally agree, that there will be no dissent, dissonance or strife (108). Symbolically, walking with Nina towards the uncertain future, Jay observes that everything has accumulated in this moment. It can only be love (155). To predict their future, or even pass moral judgements, is again left to the reader.


Conclusion With respect to the contents of his books, Hanif Kureishi can be called both an ethnic and mainstream English author. While most of his works deal with the lives of Asian immigrants in modern Britain, they at the same time reveal Kureishis deep admiration for Western culture and liberal attitudes. Naturally, many scholars and reviewers mention hybridity as the major feature of Kureishis perspective. Symptomatically, most of his novels, stories and screenplays are set in the multicultural environment of London, where moral and cultural opposites commingle; and the gross and beautiful are in tandem (Kaleta 254). The inherent contradictions of city communities, about which Kureishi writes both respectfully and critically (Kaleta 133), unavoidably provoke his readers to reconsider such issues as the role of traditional institutions and moral codes in the rapidly developing society, as well as the essential discrepancy between the individuals liberty and all kinds of regulations and standards necessitated by the society. Characteristically, it is Hanif Kureishis hybridity, that prompts him, as a storyteller, to accept societal contradictions as his aesthetic dogma (Kaleta 253), however much he despises dogmas of all other kinds. In the society whose mainstream institutions fail to provide satisfactory modes of identity provision and fulfilment (Heelas 149), each of Kureishis characters, Asian or English, must find his own answer to the above issues. Set in the 1970s, when the originally rebellious ideas of the previous decade were slowly adopted by the middle class, The Buddha of Suburbia is a novel based on contradictions, presenting both comic situations and serious social issues. The entire story is narrated by Karim Amir, a teenage boy growing up in London suburbs. Having faced contempt and harassment since his childhood, Karim responds in his own peculiar way by irony, sarcasm and disregarding authority of all kind. For him, the suburban


environment in which he has spent all his life means submission, racism and hypocrisy, as opposed to the freedom, self-fulfilment and indulgence of the inner city. The novel, the world of which exists entirely in Karims mind, presents the notion of freedom from the point of view of an immature, rather carefree and irresponsible teenager, for whom freedom equals to pleasure. In conformity with the tradition of the initiation novel, Karim must confront the other side of the paradise society of his dreams, with disillusionment and conformism as necessary conditions of social advancement. Unlike Karim, Shahid Hasan, the protagonist of The Black Album, is a more mature and responsible person, though he has to undergo a certain process of maturation as well. As a university student, Shahid, however, seeks intellectual freedom and selffulfilment in the first place. Contrary to Karim, who disappoints his cousin Jamila by neglecting the demonstration against racial inequality, Shahid is eager to help his countrymen to assert their rights, which in reality proves to be the beginning of his problems. In contradiction to the autobiographical features in Buddha, Kureishi takes a more serious and detached position in The Black Album, which allows him to voice his strong political liberalism. Instead of seeking unrestricted freedom, Shahid is ready to commit himself for the benefit of others; gradually, however, he has to question the legitimacy of those asking him for such commitment. On the background of the notorious fatwah of 1989, Kureishi portrays two basically incompatible notions of freedom and social order, between which Shahid has to select. Returning to the first-person narrative, and thus depicting the world from the narrators perspective, Intimacy narrows the topic of conflict between the individuals liberty and external regulations to the institution of marriage, and partnership in general. It is not an external social class or religious group by which the protagonist, a middleaged man called Jay, is limited; instead, he is frustrated by his unsatisfactory partnership


with Susan, a woman with whom he lives in a common household and, first of all, has two children. The novel can be characterized by Kaletas words, as a rigorous, unromanticized depiction of male, middle-aged sexual desire (174). Determined to leave his wife and children the next morning, Jay is pondering about his friends and deceased fathers opinions as well as recollecting his common life with Susan. Despite some internal doubts and sense of guilt, Jay finally decides to act upon his belief in individualism, sensualism, and creative idleness (Intimacy 132), and leaves his house to follow his desire. Presenting a wide variety of arguments about the sense of family, and duty in general, Kureishi confronts conservative values, partly revived in the 1980s, with the liberal attitudes originating in the 1960s. Irrespective of the different times at which the novels are set and the different protagonists, there are some discernible common topics, namely family and love. In each of them, it is primarily the father who represents the authority against whom the son rebels and from whom he must separate himself. As Kaleta observes, Kureishis sons always determine to live different lives from those that their fathers lived (180), however difficult it may be. The mothers authority, on the other hand, is less explicit, though also recognizable. In accordance with Kureishis refusal of any typification, siblings are usually completely different in his works. Nevertheless, the core topic upon which Kureishi demonstrates the essential struggle between liberal and conservative lifestyles is intimate human relationships, developing in the multiethnic and multicultural city environment. Within their struggle for happiness and self-fulfilment, Kureishis characters, regardless of their age and social rank, always strive after love, being aware of its frailty and provisionality. Portraying people as individuals, Kureishi also fights with false certainty based on prejudice as an easy way of explaining the worlds various wrongs (Kaleta 47).


Instead, he notes that crime, greed, and materialism, like honour and intelligence, come in all colours, shapes and persuasions in a pluralistic society (Kaleta 220). Accepting plurality as the major feature of the modern society, nevertheless, means renouncing any claim for definite and irreversible rules. Therefore, Kureishi preaches no doctrines or morals, nor aspires to redress all social wrongs. Openly describing the shortcomings of his characters, he respects their humanity. Significantly, it is this respect for other human beings and their right for self-determination, rather than safe and infallible solutions, which, in spite of all uncertainty and deficiencies, holds out hopes into the future.


Bibliography Primary sources: Kureishi, Hanif. Intimacy. London: Faber and Faber, 1998 ---. The Black Album. London: Faber and Faber, 1995 ---. The Buddha of Suburbia. London: Faber and Faber, 1990

Secondary sources: Chambers, Iain. Popular Culture: The Metropolitan Experience. London: Routledge, 1986. Connor, Steven. The English Novel in History: 1950-1995. London: Routledge, 1996. Deikman Arthur J. Them and Us: Cult Thinking and the Terrorist Threat. Berkeley: Bay Tree, 2003. Giddens, Anthony. The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies. Cambridge: Polity P, 1993. Heelas, Paul. The Sacralization of the Self and New Age Capitalism. Abercrombie, Nicholas, and Alan Warde, eds. Social Change in Contemporary Britain. Cambridge: Polity P, 1992. Jones, Emrys. Race and Ethnicity in London. Hoggart, Keith, and David R. Green, eds. London: A New Metropolitan Geography. Seveaoaks: Edward Arnold, 1992. Kaleta, Kenneth C. Hanif Kureishi: Postcolonial Storyteller. Austin: U of Texas P, 1998.


Lee, Robert A. Changing the Script: Sex, Lies and Videotapes in Hanif Kuresihi, David Dabydeen and Mike Phillips. Lee, Robert A., ed. Other Britain, Other British: Contemporary Multicultural Fiction. London: Pluto P, 1995. Leonard, Diana, and Mary Anne Speakman. Women in the Family: Companions or Caretakers?. Beechey, Veronica, and Elizabeth Whitelegg, eds. Women in Britain Today. Buckingham: Open UP, 1992. Marwick, Arthur. British Society Since 1945. 2nd ed. London: Penguin, 1990. Queen, Stuart A., Robert W. Habenstein, and Jill Sabel. The Family in Various Cultures. 5th ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1985. Scruton, Roger. The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat. London: Continuum, 2002.


Rsum This bachelors thesis deals with the work of the British novelist, playwright and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi, which is closely connected with London of the last decades of the 20th century. Born to a Pakistani father and an English mother, Kureishi is in his works often concerned with lives of Asian immigrants in the multiethnic and multicultural city environment at the time of revolutionary changes in the established social and cultural values. Kureishis work, however, is also deeply rooted in the European-American culture, following on the British literary tradition. Within the overall conflict of liberal and conservative values, Kureishi depicts the essential discrepancy between the individuals desire for independence and self-fulfilment, and the necessity to conform to a great number of rules required by the society. One of the areas in which this conflict seems to be most pressing is the issue of partnership and family relations, the developments of which, both positive and negative ones, are also the focal point of Kureishis writings. This bachelors thesis deals with the first three novels by Hanif Kureishi: The Buddha of Suburbia (1990), The Black Album (1995), and Intimacy (1998). It focuses on the means by which the protagonists try to make sense of their lives and fulfil their dreams and ideas at the time when the established values are dwindling. With view to the above mentioned conflicts, the thesis tries to determine whether Kureishis characters follow their individual opinions and desires consistently or have to make concessions necessary to fit in the society; as well as the ways in which they solve the essential dilemma of Kureishis works the choice between the seemingly safe life consisting in adherence to well-established rules, and the uncertainty, provisionality and lifelong quest as the unavoidable side-effects of the search for liberty and independence.


Resum Tato bakalsk prce se zabv dlem britskho spisovatele, dramatika a scnristy Hanifa Kureishiho, kter je zce spjato s Londnem poslednch desetilet 20. stolet. Jako syn pkistnskho otce a anglick matky se Kureishi ve svch dlech asto zabv osudy asijskch imigrant v multietnickm a multikulturnm prosted velkomsta v dob, kter sebou pin pevratn zmny zavedench spoleenskch a kulturnch hodnot. Kureishiho dlo je ovem rovn hluboce zakoenno v euroamerick kultue a navazuje svmi postupy na britskou literrn tradici. V rmci celkovho konfliktu mezi liberlnmi a konzervativnmi hodnotami zobrazuje Kureishi zsadn nesoulad mezi touhou jednotlivce po nezvislosti a sebeuplatnn a nutnost podrobit se cel ad pravidel vyadovanch spolenost. Jednou z oblast, kde se uveden konflikt projevuje nejvraznji, jsou partnersk a rodinn vztahy, jejich vvoj, jak pozitivn tak negativn, je rovn stednm tmatem Kureishiho tvorby. Tato prce se zabv prvnmi temi Kureishiho romny: The Buddha of Suburbia (Buddha z pedmst), The Black Album a Intimacy (Byli jsme si blzc). Zamuje se na zpsoby, jakmi se hlavn hrdinov sna najt smysl ivota a realizovat sv sny a pedstavy v dob, kdy zaveden hodnoty ztrcej svj vznam. S ohledem na ve zmnn konflikty se pak sna zodpovdt na otzky, zda se protagonist Kureishiho romn d dsledn vlastnmi nzory a touhami, nebo mus init stupky nezbytn pro zalenn do spolenosti, a jakm zpsobem e zkladn dilema Kureishiho tvorby volbu mezi zdnlivou ivotn jistotou spovajc v podzen se zavedenm pravidlm a nejistotou, doasnost a celoivotnm hlednm jako nezbytnmi prvodnmi jevy touhy po svobod a nezvislosti.