The Buddha of Suburbia | Study Guide

Hanif Kureishi

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The Buddha of Suburbia | Part 2, Chapter 14 : In the City | Summary



During a slack time in the theater Karim Amir returns to Haroon Amir and Eva's to help with the renovation. He insists that Eva Kay hire Eleanor as well. He and Eleanor spend their days helping Eva and their nights at experimental theater before going home to make love. Although Karim is titillated by this connection to Eleanor, he finds that at the point of climax, he suffers images of male violence. He finds himself "tormented by devils" and worried that "terrible things would happen."

Karim also spends more time with Anwar and his family. Anwar lives in a state of alcoholism and despair while Jeeta, empowered by her work, grows stronger and more certain of her goals. Jeeta remains disappointed that Changez is no help to her. Changez, in fact, spends more time with Shinto. Anwar, meeting Changez and Shinto in the street one day, goes after his son-in-law. Changez, who is carrying a bag of sex toys from his shopping excursion with Shinto, avoids Anwar's attack and strikes back, clubbing Anwar with a "knobbly dildo." Anwar dies in the hospital and is afforded a Muslim burial. At Anwar's grave Karim, who even as a child found all religion inexplicable, finds himself thinking about his heritage as an Indian. He blames Haroon for not maintaining an interest in his son's heritage and recognizes that if he wants to restore fully one-half of his identity, the lost Indian part, he will have to do that himself.

Karim also notes the changes in Changez and Jamila after Anwar's death. Changez, whom Karim calls the "Dildo Killer," cannot let go of his grief while Jamila arrives at new conclusions. She decides to leave Changez and live communally with a bunch of people who share her political convictions. Changez finds her choice unbearable, and Jamila relents and invites him to come with her. Karim admires Jamila's strength and sees her as a new person, an Indian woman about to live a useful life in "white England."

Thus inspired, Karim returns to his theatrical characterization of Changez/Tariq with new zeal, patience, and "primarily love." In subsequent visits to Jamila's commune Karim comes to understand the revolutionary energies there as positive and without the wish for power that his friend Terry's group promulgated. They are gentle people, vegetarians who drink organic wine and listen to Simon and Garfunkel. The progressive lawyer in the group introduces Karim to modern jazz and ideas about how to create an equitable society. Karim recognizes the new ideas in the commune and almost wishes to stay there. He returns instead to the theater and anticipates with some fear the opening of the new play.


Karim continues to explore new ideas. He is open to everything and most persuaded by the life choice Jamila has made. Although he understands the appeal of social equity and those who work to such ends, he remains committed to self-satisfaction, which he believes lies in his theatrical opportunities. He is joined to the theatrical enterprise with fear, a component—as he so well knows—of his sexuality and his pleasure.

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