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Hanif Kureishi is a complete tease

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Having finished reading Hanif Kureishi’s new novel Something To Tell You earlier this week, I am now ready to explode with admiration and fury. It is a shambolic novel that has none of the structural elegance or coherent exposition of his early fiction, particularly The Black Album, which I enjoy reading over and over again. Apart from his last novel The Body (a strange though fascinating J.G. Ballard lite story), Kureishi seems to becoming more infuriating. I was pleased though troubled by Gabriel’s Gift and with Something To Tell You Kureishi (wikipedia and very out of date official site) has moved further in the direction of intuitive (some could say self indulgent) narrative.

Image from thetelegraph.co.uk

You can listen to Kureishi reading from Something To Tell You, and read more here. I’ve never been to London, yet it is Kureishi’s work that is what makes London seem so exciting a place to become lost in. His writing is elegant and engaging and his form of dialogue is something that I find engrossing, although some say it is irritating. I also enjoy the dialogue of authors like Tim O’Brien, which also seems to be an acquired taste.

Kureishi’s characters are magical pastiches of eccentric behaviours and unfocused desires. He writes frankly about sex, drugs and disappointments. In this latest novel the biggest tease is the tense build-up to the discovery of the protagonist’s chivalrous but tragic youthful behaviour in relation to the life of his first love, and the effect this will have on their future and perhaps on his career. Kureishi’s ability to make this the focus of the story yet to have it fade into insignificence by the end of the novel’s events is powerful and infuriating. I feel cheated and at the same time enamoured of the potential for redemption this implies.

Another facet I am still trying to come to terms with is the appearance of characters from his earlier novels and films in this novel, and how they interact. There’s even a coy reference to the fact that actor Naveen Andrews plays Sayid in Lost. Andrews played Karim in the TV adaptation (finally available on DVD) of Kureishi’s debut novel The Buddha of Suburbia in the early 1990s, long before his Lost fame.

I will start reading it again almost immediately. I am sure there is far more in this book than one reading can reveal.

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