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England, The Immigrant Experience, And The Buddha England, The Immigrant Experience, And The Buddha Of Suburbia And The Black Album By Hanif Kure This paper is an investigation of the way in which The Buddha of Suburbia and The black Album, both by Hanif Kureishi deal with the 1980 - 90 s second-generation immigrant experience of South Asians in British society. To do this, the assistance of three questions have been employed to guide the answer: what are the consequences of embracing the borderless ness of hybridity for the main characters? what is achieved for the main characters whether by gain or loss, from creating borders in tradition of authenticity? And finally, where can political agency be located if not in resistance to some border, be it morality, religion or philosophy? By examining these questions within their contexts and through exploration of the language of both texts the (dis) location of resistance that develops out of second-generation immigrants dual experiences of discrimination and upward mobility have been compared; realising the basic stance of both novels is to imply acceptance of the reality of people of colour by White Britain (both the establishment and the working classes).
In this paper the subject of the second generation immigration experience of the South Asians in British society is explored, in the context of The Buddha of Suburbia and The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi, primarily in the decade between 1980 and 1990. This is a period after the surge of immigrants to Britain from the 1950 s and 60 s from the New Commonwealth countries: West Indies, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who came in search of a better life in a thriving economy, for the hope of finding employment and success through the superior education system. Also purely for the prestige that is automatically attached onto them for living in the United Kingdom, especially in London, Birmingham and Bradford. Dad was sent to England by his family to be educated Like Gandhi and Jinnah before him, Dad would return to India a qualified and polished English gentleman lawyer and an accomplished ballroom dancer. The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1990, page 94 This extract from The Buddha of Suburbia illustrates Kureishi's intentions to establish the psychology and circumstance behind his character which provide the background from which the proceeding actions are caused.
This also allows the reader to understand the stance of the character and his respective view point, hence the reader can associate with the character and his subsequent behaviour. The idea of going to Britain and being educated in the western style and living among Westerners assumes a great deal about the future of this action. From this quotation the assumption is clearly to do with upward-mobility in society, both in England and the home country. Yet whether this is degrading of the pursuers own culture is an argument to be considered. An extract from The Black Album, portrayed as an opinion of a character, opposes the ideas presented in The Buddha of Suburbia directly. he asserted that Papas generation, with their English accents, foreign degrees and British snobbery, assumed their own people were inferior.
They should be forced to go into villages and live among the peasants, as Gandhi had done. The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1995, page 91 - 92 It seems that this upward-mobility of the characters sacrifices their cultural background, and in some respects, it leaves them vulnerable to such attacks as above. However, to take Gandhi as an example, as he features in both quotations, it is possible to move up in the ladder of life and social-literacy without loosing the essential cultural background that is ones identity. This form of description is carried out in both books and seems to be a characteristic of Kureishi's writing; his in-depth references to actual people, events and literature (which has the same strength of interest in both Karim and Shahid), brings greater realism and background to the novels ideas as their history coincides with the characters daily lives.
The immigrants who first came to Britain were ambitious, and also na? ve as to the hardships and difficulties to be endured in city life. An example of such an ambitious character is that of Shahid's father in The Black Album': Papa hated anything old-fashioned, unless it charmed tourists. He wanted to tear down the old; he liked progress. I only want the best, he would say, meaning the newest, the latest, and, somehow, the most ostentatious. The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1995, page 39 Chili (in the same book) is the eldest son of the ostentatious father, who has adapted with encouragement from his father to life in the city.
In Chilis hand were his car keys, Ray-Bans and Marlboro's Chili drank only black coffee and neat Jack Daniels; his suits were Boss, his underwear Calvin Klein, his actor Pacino. His barber shook his hand, his accountant took him to dinner, his drug dealer would come to him at all hours Now Chili claimed that the family business had to expand to London. The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1995, page 38 Here, as well as describing the physical appearance of the character, Kureishi also appoints a life-style to him which reflects the second generation immigrants conformity to, and acceptance of the western materialistic society that dominates around them, rejecting their own traditions of home and family where Chili is reluctant to live with his wife Zum, and prefers the company of more promiscuous women. Despite these traits Chili is rarely disrespectable, and he never hit her, so showing the reader he is not wholly without morals, and also that the second generation immigrant is not a bad person but a disillusioned one. Riaz refers to him as a dissipater because of his promiscuous nature, money-hungry attitude and dealings with drugs; Kureishi chooses this word to form the idea of a rebel who does not conform to his own kind, but indulges merely in pleasure, possibly without necessary cause or greater understanding.
Coming from moderately well-off families (such as Karim Hassan's father in The Buddha of Suburbia) these immigrants expected life in Britain to be as good if not better. However, politicians such as Enoch Powell spoke out against immigration, making life very challenging if not difficult for them. To provide a context for the events of the decade between the 1980 s/ 90 s and so clarify the situation around which both of the novels and based, some social history is referred to: During the 1980 s/ 90 s four thousand miners were made redundant, and British shipbuilding hit an all-time low. The overall mood of Britain was a mixture of bitter-hatred and longing for better times. The job-losses were made harder to bear as the areas affected were already ones of high unemployment. In addition to this, in keeping with past political philosophy, the Conservative Party announced a programme of privatisation, selling public assets to private shareholders.
Mrs. Thatchers popularity fell, and people became more interested in materialistic, technological products. The British Nationality Act was put into operation to keep immigration under control in 1983, most of whom were channelled into manual employment and racial discrimination was evidently abundant in housing, education and public life. It was during this period that the commission for Racial Equality was set up to bring harmony to race relations. Still, social unrest pursued in the form of serious race rioting mainly in Birmingham, Bradford, London, Leeds and Wolverhampton. In both of his works, Kureishi refers to the unrest of racial conflict, enhancing the cause through religious belief and political stances in The Black Album Shahid, Riaz, Hat, Chad and other boys and girls from the college go to guard a Bangali family from the deep-racial harassment they faced from twelve and thirteen year olds: The husband had been smashed over the head with a bottle and taken to hospital.
The wife had been punched. Lighted matches had been pushed through the letter-box. At all hours the bell had been rung and the culprits said they would slaughter the children. The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1995, page 90 And in The Buddha of Suburbia, Karim is restricted from seeing his friend Helen by her father: We dont like it, Hairy Back said.
However many niggers there are, we dont like it. Were with Enoch. If you put one of your black ands near my daughter Ill smash it with a after! With a after! The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1990, page 40 Kureishi moves on to question whether violence can be attributed to living in ugliness.
In the estate where the Bangali family is being guarded, there is a high level of racism; could this be due to unemployment, powerlessness, lack of food and under-education? Dr. Brownlow, Deedee Osgoods ex-husband and the students lecturer, defends this as the problem. He is contended against by Riaz, the fundamentalist and leader of the student revolutionaries, who argues how privileged they are living in Britain; to be able to vote, have housing, electricity, heating, TV, fridges, hospitals nearby, while our brothers in the Third World, as you like to call most people other than you, have a fraction of this ' yet they are neither racist skinheads, car thieves, rapists No they are humble, good, hard-working people who love Allah!' - The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1995, page 95 Kureishi develope's the idea of religion as an integral part of politics and as a requirement for liberation, equality, and racial unity. He underlines the importance of faith in the second generation immigrant as a tag that makes them human, and shows how far it goes to unite brothers and sisters together in harmonised respect and trust towards Allah, and a sense of belonging.
The religious enthusiasm of the younger generation, and its links to strong political feeling, had surprised him. The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1995, page 91 The second generations faith in The Black Album is much stronger than of the first, this is apparent as neither Shahid nor Chili had been taught about religion (is this also a reason for Chili to be labelled a dissipator? ) by their parents. Kureishi portrays these ideas through the eyes of Shahid, whos ignorance towards religion provides an unbiased insight as to its workings. Observing the mosque, in which all he saw were solid, material things, and looking along the line of brothers faces upon which spirituality was taking place, he felt a failure. The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1995, page 96 Shahid is uncertain and doubtful, but realises that: faith, like love or creativity, could not be willed. This was an adventure in knowing.
He had to follow the presciption's and be patient. Understanding would surely follow; he would be blessed. The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1995, page 96 Even this seems to be the wrong way to approach faith towards God, and the author himself feels it is a fruitless endeavour when one seeks faith because it is popular to do so, or because one feels left out without it. Kureishi's depiction of Shahid's uncertainty in his religion makes the reader, who associates with him as the central character, doubt what Riaz and his posse stand for in general because the questioning brings forward the lack of evidence which is involved in faith to God. The reader finds him / herself in the same position Kureishi puts Shahid in, tempted by passion of sex, the lure of drugs, the reader feels he has been cheated in some way for his / her own beliefs, taken in by a deception. Karim is also absorbed by his fathers spirituality, affectionately calling him God for his accomplishment at conducting yoga sessions with Eva and a hoard of other converts in The Buddha of Suburbia.
But, like Shahid, Kureishi puts Karim not without doubt, and distances from the core of belief. The children of the first immigrants have come to find themselves living in a divided world, in a state of limbo between cultures and traditions. They were seen as unwelcome outsiders by the White majority and shunned by their families back in their own countries for being too western. They were labelled as coconuts and paki, degraded, hated for their colour and rejected for their hybridized cultures. 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 I was looking for trouble, any kind of movement, action and sexual interest I could find.
The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1990, page 3 All of this furthered and increased the (dis) location of resistance in the relationship between the second generation immigrant and the dominant culture of the white citizens; which is based around a background of raves, ecstasy, religious ferment and sexual passion... This is observed when Shahid and his lover and lecturer Deedee Osgood go out into the night-clubs of London resistance is directed towards religious disbelief on the part of Shahid, and Riaz responds to preach: Must we prefer this indulgence to the profound and satisfying comforts of religion? Surely, if we cannot take the beliefs of millions of people seriously, what then? We believe in nothing!
We are animals living in a cesspool, not humans in a liberal society. ' The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd, 1995 Both of these novels consider a genre preoccupied in both conserving and disrupting conventions, and political and religious borders through the process of hybridity a popular culture derived from implications of racial and cultural mix vie with spiritual practices and orientations from many corners of the world to indicate paths by which one may further realise ones experiences and authenticity as practised by the second generation of immigrants. In both novels the experience of ethnic discrimination govern the social and economic order of the nation to determine (not cause) the whole cultural life of society, and create a need for resistance which is only further complicated by the simultaneous yearnings for upward mobility the need for recognition within the economic and social-cultural structure. So, what are the consequences of embracing the borderless ness of hybridity for the main character? What is achieved for the main character whether by gain or loss, from creating borders in tradition or authenticity?
Where can political agency be located if not in resistance to some border, be it morality, religion or philosophy? To answer these questions one must fully determine Kureishi's focus on the subjects of ethnicity and class as well. A reader of The Buddha of Suburbia may feel it is appropriate for the narration to be done by the main character, giving him a chance to express his deeper, more personal emotions and thoughts throughout the story; also keeping in mind The Buddha of Suburbia is a comedic novel, this provides the opportunity for Kureishi to explore the humorous and absurd innuendoes within every-day life itself, deliberately forcing the reader to enter the characters mind and perceiving through his eyes, taking what is said to be fact without questioning. In The Buddha of Suburbia the focus is perceived through a seventeen year old Karim Amir, a mixed child of an immigrant from Bombay and a lower-middle class English woman, Harbor and Margaret, driven by hormones and lured by the sense of danger in seeking release from the status quo.
Kureishi identifies the character of Karim as being a new breed as the second generation of the immigrants living in England; a direct product of transmigration and interracial marriage creating an almost chaotic jumble and confusion of feelings within him, and a non-linear contrary to tradition set of beliefs / principals that present an inherent restlessness and the need for change and resistance. Kureishi constantly flips between the lives of the characters and the perception of life as experienced by Karim. he is placed in the midst of a polarised society; where radicalism is contradicted by convention, to be different is to be cool; two ideas presented through Margaret (the traditionalist) and Mrs. Eva Kay (new-age spiritualist and radical); and a transition (a disruption) in the family mainly induced by his fathers renewed and revitalized interest in spiritual practice in conjunction with Eva. Hanif Kureishi's exploration and critique of the stigmas of progression as seen in both novels and continuity of the western tradition cross-fertilizing with a multitude of cultural and religious beliefs, for instance, the teachings of Buddhism. The desire to shift toward novel, foreign, or iconoclastic teachings or to reconcile more familiar faiths to unfamiliar ones expresses a timely and healthy impulse to include a wider world in to humanity.
By making the character firstly accept his own predicament by stating it, Kureishi goes on to develop Karim, as well as introduce the reader to the differing facets of his life: friends, sexual interests, family, and so on. In The Black Album focus is perceived through the eyes of Shahid Hassan who is a teenage student of a rundown inefficient college in London, and a Muslim second generation immigrant. Kureishi introduces the reader and Shahid to hybridity the Multi-cultural ism present all ready in London's streets and society; we are made to observe the compact way in which the different cultures fit together, obscured further by the disordered nature of the college students. For both immigrants and native-born members of the working and lower-middle classes, notions of culture and class authenticity help to demarcate borders for both progressive and conservative forces.
Resistance based on authenticity, however, often flounders when it becomes an officially sanctioned site of marginality within the dominant culture. Hybridity reflects both groups investment in the dominant culture, but can obscure the borders which mark the unequal power relationship between ethnic groups. The fate of Kureishi's second-generation, upwardly mobile characters in both novels interrogates both the alteration of traditional radical resistance through hybridity and the culture-wide transformation potential created by the upward mobility of the second-generation within the dominant cultural system, realising the basic stance of both novels is to imply acceptance of the reality of people of colour by White Britain (both the establishment and the working classes). It seems that when one is promised new kinds of experience, one is led to suppose that one has long been involved in illusion, ignorance, or error.
One may regard both oneself and the patterns and meaning of the worlds claims upon ones life as at fault: so if one awakens it will be because one has somehow escaped from (or struggled above) what one has become used to and often the sales are named to be the entire western tradition. Bibliography? The Buddha Of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd. , 1990? The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber Ltd. , 1995?
Mastering Economic and Social History, David Taylor, The Macmillan press Ltd. , 1988? A Readers Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory, Raman Selden, The Harvester Press, 1985? Comparative Religion, A. C. Bouquet, Penguin Books, 1960 s? Anti-D?
having (Herr Eugen D? hints Revolution in Science), Frederick Engels, Foreign Languages Press Peking, 1976? web 3 c 8
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