New Reading Guide: The Buddha of Suburbia

Posted by Speakeasy News > Friday 04 February 2022 > Pedagogy Shine Bright Lycée

As promised, our latest Reading Guide for Terminale LLCER, The Buddha of Suburbia  by Hanif Kureishi Is at the printers and will be available at the beginning of March.

Kureishi was already an established screenwriter and playwright when he published the novel in 1990.  In the films My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, both directed by Stephen Frears, Kureishi had explored questions of identity in a new, multicultural Britain where characters weren't sure where they fit in.

The novel format allowed him to go further. The Buddha of Suburbia is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about a boy with an English mother and Pakistani father growing up in the 1970s in the London suburbs. The protagonist sets the scene in the opening words of the novel, "My name is Karim Amir, and I am an Englishman born and bred, almost.... Perhaps it is the odd mixture of continents and blood, of here and there, of belonging and not, that makes me restless and easily bored."

In Karim's quest to escape the suburbs and find a purpose in life, Karim navigates issues of class, ethnicity and family structure. He explores activist agitprop theatre, punk and countercultures against a background of economic depression. He constantly pushes the boundary between how he wants to see himself and how others see him.

The novel won the Whitbread Award for best first novel, and was adapted into a BBC mini-series with a soundtrack by David Bowie.

The Reading Guide will be published in March but we have a ready-to-use resource to keep you going. It focuses on the first chapter and the themes of identity, racism and integration. You can download it below.

This article about the book could also be useful.

Click here for more information and an extract to scroll through. You can find the teacher's guide on the site compagnon.

Downloadable resources ready to use in class
> Studying “The Buddha of Suburbia” in LLCER