Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Buddha, Alienation, and A Sexual Revolution

Buddha of Suburbia presented some particularly interesting perspectives on life as an individual in a turbulent time. The novel was set in a time period where America was undergoing its own cultural awakening and changes - from civil rights to cold war politics; the British development, though, seems to be just as angst ridden and reflective of a social schism.

I, being as white-bread run-of-the-mill American as one can get, appreciated the peculiar insights to Karim's experiences as a member of a culture but an individual of a society. His journey through England and adolescence seemed, to me, something of an odyssey. He left, so to speak, a comfortable and unanalyzed lifestyle when his father, by becoming involved with Eva, forced Karim to reconsider life as a half-Indian, a sexual being, and even a professional.

I find particularly of interest that Karim eventually settles on not being settled into an identity. Rather than buying into a strictly enforced culture, like that of Anwar's or Changez's or even Larry's, or subscribing to a fluid notion of self-existence amongst the "others" as Jamila does, he simply suspends judgment of himself. To what extent is this noncommittal, poorly definitive stance satisfying and why does Kareishi end the novel on such a note?

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