Read The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi Online

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The second provocative, exhilarating novel from the author of The Buddha of Suburbia. Having put more energy into sex and music as a teenager and less into his schoolwork, Shahid Hasan now is stuck at a lackluster community college in London, striving to please two incompatible camps--the conservative Muslims in the flat next door and a gorgeous, radical college lecturer....

Title : The Black Album
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780684813424
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 287 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Black Album Reviews

  • Navidad Thelamour
    2019-05-01 10:23

    “Chili’s basic understanding was that people were weak and lazy. He didn’t think they were stupid; he wasn’t going to make that mistake. He saw, though, that people resisted change, even if it would improve their lives; they were afraid, complacent, lacking courage. This gave the advantage to someone with initiative and will.” The Black Album, originally published in ‘95 then re-published by Scribner in 1996, is the tale of Shahid, a Pakistani Muslim young man living in a contemporary British society. As he grapples with the line between fundamentalism and liberalism—his love of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll versus his traditional familial and community expectations—he finds himself coming of age and into his own in London after the death of his father, exploring and often crossing the line between the accepted and the taboo, his insight into the world around him growing ever more poignant as he does. Here you find two combating worlds that do not, by definition, co-exist well: the ideology of the liberal neo-thinker who is entranced by Prince, Baldwin and the idea of the Black Panther movement versus the radical fundamentalists, portrayed through Shahid’s friend, Riaz, and his clique. And, in the middle is a cast of characters who are fully realized, led by an older brother who has followed drugs down their rabbit hole. The sequence of events and clash of cultures eventually lead to violence, fittingly in a controversy over The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. Hanif Kureishi has never been an author to write to placate the masses, and he didn’t attempt so here either. This novel didn’t please everyone—in fact, it might have offended some—but if you’re looking for a single word to describe this pick, I’ve got one for you: soul. Pure soul on a page. Keep in mind that this novel was Kureishi's response to the fatwah intent on killing Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses that was issued by Islamic fundamentalists. The grittiness and reality in this work left me breathless, and it was refreshing to find a work that so brilliantly mixed comedy, intellect and satire.I first read this pick while doing my M.A. in London. I remember chatting about it with my diss. advisor, Bobby Nayyar, over some beverage in some mostly-empty coffee nook, then the conversation continuing as we strolled to the tube in typical London drizzly weather. The Black Album was insightful and dared to go inside of the crannies that make us uncomfortable, into the room where drugs are being done, into the bed of the professor sleeping with her student. This novel was LOUD, as it had to be to compete with all of the background noise of London and to find its place within it, both for the characters internally and for the novel itself.Here you’ll find insightful little nuggets like the one above, and you’ll follow Shahid in his modern-day journey, in a journey that both Baby Boomers and Millennials alike can relate to, because this world described within the pages of The Black Album has always existed: this world of self-exploration, of rebellion, drugs, sex, of fundamentalists versus "new-age" thinkers, though it isn’t often written about—that is, not so often as runaway chick lit bestsellers and formulaic thrillers. There was no formula to this one, only the free hand of a confident author not afraid to cross a few lines.The industry needs more words—more books—from those who truly have something to say, and this one, this writer, does. As an agent, I fought for authors who had a true voice, passion, soul. But often they were turned down as too this or too that, while other writers, some of whom I have and likely will in the future review here, continued being offered contracts to write about…nothing. But reads like this let me know that some truly talented voices do still get through “the gatekeepers,” and for that we should all be both encouraged and grateful. More please! 5 stars all day. *****

  • Zaki
    2019-05-18 15:19

    The Black Album is an excellent little novel exploring the dichotomy of being a muslim in a non-muslim society. It's like a catch-22 situation sometimes.

  • Drgibson63
    2019-05-09 17:35

    (Note, I wrote the review that follows for a magazine just after Sept. 11, 2001. The subsequent War on Terror has made The Black Album a very prescient book, a sort of embryonic look at such extremism.) Hanif Kureishi excels in exposing the sour taste of tired overworked, spoiled radicalism. In Buddha of Suburbia, he conveyed the decay of the 60s idealism leading to the advent of Thatcherism. But he's no neo-conservative. Kureishi takes on political correctness with imagination as a weapon, rather than wanting to restrain thought. The Black Album is Kureishi's response to the fatwah more than a decade ago issued by Islamic fundamentalists intent on killing Salmon Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses. As well as the novel exposes the foolishness of being "devoid of doubt," post Sept. 11 it can also be read as a precursor to the terrorism that killed more than 3,000. Kureishi's fanatical students who inhabit a third-rate London university, being deceived by a quiet madman, show a potential for violence as the novel concludes. The protaganist is Shahid, a young student pulled in two opposing radical ideologies. He arrives at the college because he idolizes professor Dee Dee Osgood, who is in her late 30s. Her classes mix Prince with Baldwin, Cleaver, Angela Davis, Marvin Gaye and others. For Shahid, it's intellectual stimulation. He begins a friendship with Dee Dee that soon leads to a sexual relationship between the teacher and student. Kureishi pulls no punches in his description of the affair. There are explicit scenes of lovemaking, but the sex is not pornographic.Pulling Shahid in the opposite direction is a clique of radical Islamic fundamentalists led by Riaz, a quiet, almost wimpy older student who can hold an audience in the palm of his hand while speaking. Shahid lacks a central of authority. His father is dead, his mother does not command authority, his sister in law is a conservative bore and his flashy older brother Chili is succumbing to drugs. The meaning of life offered by his religious friends and their efforts to combat racism is attractive to Shahid, and much of the novel involves his tug of war between Dee Dee's influence and Riaz's. Eventually, the controversy over The Satanic Verses results in a book burning that forces Shahid to make a final choice. The consequences lead to violence. Kureishi knows how to deliver humor and farce. And there are several instances: The radical clique worships a decayed eggplant that is rumored to contain holy verse; a communist professor develops a stutter that gets progressively worse as Eastern Europe become more democratic; and Riaz's clothes, while under Shahid's watch, are stolen from a coin laundrette. The Black Album is populated by vivid, very creative characters. Besides Shahid, Dee Dee and Riaz, there's Chili, Shahid's brother who idolizes Al Pacino and Martin Scorsese but is discovering that crime and drugs in the real world suck. There's Dee Dee's estranged husband, the stuttering Communist professor Brownlow who lusts after Moslem girls in veils. Chad, a former drug dealer turned convert to Riaz's doctrines, is a compelling tragic figure. Adopted by a white couple, his discovery that he has no identity causes him to leap too far into fanaticism, with tragic results. The novel is also populated with drug dealers, foolish politicians, racist council inhabitants and scared Asian immigrant families. A theme to The Black Album might be Imagination. It certainly combats religious rigidity. Late in the novel, Shahid tells a sympathetic member of the Moslem clique that he can't have any boundaries, even one set by God. That may offend some readers, but given the choice the young student faces, he's making a wise decision. Notes: Dee Dee Osgood's fate is mentioned in passing in Kureishi's later novel, Gabriel's Gift, where she's now a successful psychologist. The time frame is just after the millennium

  • Leonie
    2019-04-30 15:26

    This book seemed like a prophecy of things to come for modern Britain. Set in the late 80s around the time of Salman Rushdie's fatwah, it investigates the relationship between young British muslims and the mainstream white culture. The central character is torn between being devout and sharing the virtues and values of his muslim brothers and launching into the rave culture and free wheeling morals of his fellow students. It all comes to a head over the burning of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses and the protaganist gets caught between two worlds, forcing him to choose which one he wants to live in.

  • Tittirossa
    2019-04-27 13:09

    Scritto nel 1990, attuale come una fotografia di oggi. Il bello di questo libro è che fa provare simpatia per le stesse persone che trovi odiose quando leggi i giornali! Nel libro c'è tutto quello che è successo negli anni successivi: la rivolta degli islamici in occidente, il terrorismo, il perchè del ritorno del fondamentalismo. Persi senza la loro identità religiosa, affascinati dalla possibilità di vivere anche in un altro mo(n)do, disgustati dall'Occidente senza fede, rifiutati sia dai Paesi in cui emigrano, sia da quelli da cui provengono: i personaggi di Kureishi sono l'emblema delle mille realtà dell'Islam in Occidente.

  • Simon Mcleish
    2019-05-12 13:09

    Originally published on my blog here in October 1998.Like Kureishi's earlier novel, The Buddha of Suburbia, The Black Album deals with the issues surrounding growing up in London as a young man of Asian background. It is set just over a decade later, in the summer of 1989. It is a darker novel; the setting is rather more sordid (student digs in Kilburn rather than a rich house in West London), and the forces of racism against Sahid are now matched by the growing strength of Islamic fundamentalism, in the year that the fatwah was declared against Salman Rushdie. The clash between Islam and Western liberal culture is one of the main themes of the novel. As a student, Sahid is being taught the value of the intellect, that censorship is a crime, and the vague Marxism common among British intellectuals. At the college, there is a group of Islamic fundamentalists; to begin with, Sahid values being part of their group, as it is putting him in touch with the religion and culture of his forbears (though, as his sister-in-law reminds him, the upper classes in Pakistan viewed Islam mainly as a way to keep the lower classes under control). The third force in his life is the drug culture which came out of the raves that made 1988 known as a second 'summer of love'.The forces confusing Sahid are symbolised and concentrated in the three most important people in his life: his tutor and lover Deidre (Deedee) Osgood; Riaz, the guru of the Islamic group' and Chili, his brother. His conflicting loyalties come to a head over a demonstration by the students at which the Satanic Verses is to be burned; this arouses Sahid's unhappiness with some of the ideas of Riaz's group, as a book lover and an admirer of Rushdie's earlier Midnight's Children. The tensions this creates lead to the group discovering his relationship with Deedee and the drug taking, neither considered to be actions appropriate for a committed fundamentalist Muslim.It is clear that Kureishi has little sympathy for the fundamentalists; this antipathy of a provocative author of fiction towards anyone who advocates book-burning is understandable. It is quite easy to provoke contempt for them in his readers - a scene where one of the other members of the group asks Sahid to tell him what value a book has, and responses to the reply that they make you think by questioning the value of thinking is one example. The novel generally is a convincing portrayal of the rootlessness probably felt by many British Asians.The title comes from an album by Prince, itself a response to the Beatles' White Album, proclaiming his own racial identity.

  • Barnini
    2019-04-27 14:23

    Finished reading The Black Album about a second-generation South Asian man caught in the maelstrom of religious fanaticism a few days before the US election results. It almost portended the shape of things to come. The book chronicles the bizarre, almost surreal, adventures of Shahid, the lost Prince-obsessed college student and protagonist. We follow him and his radical college professor/lover as they party hard in the underbelly of London in the 80s, while Shahid finds himself drawn into the violent world of Islamic fundamentalism of second generation immigrants, and inadvertently drags the people around him into it. In Deedee Osgood I find my favourite character of the book. In this wildly intelligent, impossibly well-read, recreational drug-user with great taste in music, Kureishe creates one of his most memorable characters.A critique of the struggles of immigrant minorities attempting to find and reclaim their identities in 'secular' Britain, this ambitious book is exhilaratingly fast-paced with grim and cutting humour. However, unfortunately, it remains just that - a slightly superficial, at times compassionate, and darkly funny glimpse into a compelling and tragic world of sex, drugs, rock and roll, and religious fanaticism. After the insightful and brilliant Buddha of Suburbia, this feels like a bit of a disappointment. But that is only because Kureishi sets such high standards for himself.

  • Deb
    2019-05-19 11:33

    An evocative trip into Thatcher's London in the 80s. Interesting from the viewpoint of a post 9/11 world to read about the attractions of Muslim fundamentalism to second generation immigrants in the UK. I'd forgotten about the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and hadn't linked that in to later events.But this novel is more than that. It's not just about the confused identify of the immigrant, especially one of a different colour and religion, its just as much about growing up, finding yourself and choosing the people you want to be with and more importantly the person you want to be.I liked the central character, but couldn't bear Deedee Osgood the female love interest. She and her husband were painted beautifully as an anachronistic liberal couple who had lost their "religion", socialism.Definitely worth a read. I'd give it 4 stars but I found the sex scenes with Deedee overdone.

  • Stefanny Irawan
    2019-05-07 14:12

    Now that I have finished reading this, I stand my ground that the contradiction the author put within the main character, some sort of caught-in-the-middle situation, is quite interesting. The portrayals of ehtnicity, racism, and drug scene are quite potent and can reveal the other side of London. However, this book doesn't really touch me significantly. Therefore I only gave 2 stars. PS: the picture of the book's cover displayed here is upside-down.

  • J Aslan
    2019-04-29 16:15

    Having grown in the same area as Kureshi I was could relate exactly to his attitude to his home town but the London that I went to and the London that he went to, though close in proximity, proved to be worlds apart. Although I did not enjoy parts of this book (and Kureshi's penchant for rambling sentences) I would recommend it for the subtle exposure of his cultural experience despite the slightly flabby plot.

  • Zakee
    2019-05-19 14:06

    Known for the autobiographical nature of his fiction, Kureishi's TBA finds his young bourgeois protagonist thrust between a charismatic ideologue and his motley crew and the "pop life" of a post-feminist intellectual. It is exciting to watch the protagonist hem and haw his way into the very corner he so tries to avoid.

  • Godzilla
    2019-04-26 16:34

    Hmmm - this was thought provoking in some ways, and was set against an interesting backdrop, but I felt the characters were poorly drawn and left me cold.The story meanders, whilst making some good points, but ultimately led me down the path of disappointment.

  • Kevin
    2019-04-26 11:14

    “what sort of people burn books and read aubergines?”indeed, who does that? radical Muslim university students in London in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, i think. that’s one of the shining insights this book provides.Kureishi’s book about a young Pakistani attending college for the first time and finding his way in the world was sometimes confusing. i’m still not quite sure of the time period but since it does seem to center on the fatwa declared against Salman Rushdie’s book in 1988, a safe bet is 1988. where the main character Shahid lives and who he is does not really come into focus. he father is freshly dead only 6 months, his mother and sister-in-law are running the family business, and his older brother is involved in some serious back-alley druggie stuff. but not much else emerges. the characters are not that well developed, the plot is narrow but two-pronged, and following who said what in the dialogue can be difficult at times.the story held me because i guess i am intrigued by these glimpses into such a different culture and lifestyle. Kureishi explores racism, classism, colonialism (inferred), relations between faculty and student, older and younger, etc., etc. he painted a picture involving lots of different kinds of boundary-crossings and evolution of philosophical talks to fanatical rampages and forbidden loves. it’s never said outright but the death of Papa has caused Shahid and his brother Chili to seek succor and peace of soul along very disparate routes. Shahid goes to school and learns about art and literature but falls in with another mind-altering cohort dealing in ideas steeped in racist and religious resentment and class inequality. Chili seeks his solace in drugs and street thugs. Shahid finds love in an older woman who is one of his professors; Chili loses his wife.the seedy side of London is on display here with the characters frequenting all kinds of dingy speak-easy types of places, holes-in-the-wall, and rough dens of iniquity. this is contrasted with the middle scale life of Shahid’s family -but only just barely glimpsed- and his lover’s more upscale, white, professor’s life. again, Kureishi is showing us multiple levels of society in all its ugly and beautiful aspects by having a Hermes-like Shahid cross all of those boundaries with us in tow.i stuck with it until the end because i was curious about where it would lead and was intrigued by the romance, mainly, i’ll admit because it resonated with my own life. and he’s not a BAD writer, it just didn’t really and truly satisfy like the Buddha of Suburbia. an odd, all-over-the-place novel about race and class relations in London in the late 1980s but nevertheless hits some truly deep notes at times.

  • Alexandria Luttke
    2019-05-26 12:11

    Shahid, rebelling against his conservative Muslim family, attends a mediocre college in London during the late 80s. Honestly, I chose this book because G Willow Wilson said it was one of her favorite books while she attending university. I find Kureishi's writing to flow well in a realistic, gritty way. His description of characters and setting brings the reader deeper into the story with every page. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is questioning our society and the treatment of others.

  • Anna
    2019-05-10 14:11

    I really enjoyed this.Other reviews have described the content and significance really well.Happened to read alongside Land of Green Plums and the pairing provided an interesting comparison between the 'coming of age' experiences here in the UK and in Romania in the 80s.

  • Alyson
    2019-04-30 11:21

    Probably 3.5 stars. It seemed to take me a long time to read, and yet also didn't seem to have much happen in some ways (I'm sure others will disagree!). Despite it being written over 20 years ago it seems very relevant now for its themes.

  • Denisa Herman
    2019-05-10 15:33

    If you want to understand the mindset of those kids among the extremists who try to find a meaning for their life read this book. A very elegant book on sex, drugs and Islam thinking. Plus you will discover London through the eyes of a tormented identity.

  • Sam Romilly
    2019-05-12 17:31

    Easy to read and amusing in places. Unfortunately the characters are a series of cliches, with several embarrassing bad sex scenes. Analysis of the Muslim fundamentalism around 'Midnight children' was not very revealing and felt very second hand journalism.

  • Neil Clarke
    2019-05-08 13:28

    More relevant than ever. Time for a reread, methinks.

  • Hana
    2019-05-23 13:20

    Read this for school. Did not like it. Would not recommend.

  • Amy Blunt
    2019-04-25 13:29

    Did not enjoy it at all, I couldn't stop reading, though, just to reach the end. I am basically not into postmodern literature. Shocking at many points. Is London like that?

  • Carlo
    2019-04-25 13:31

    Se ne stava nella libreria da un mucchio di tempo – il prezzo è ancora in lire – ed un motivo ci doveva essere. E difatti la scintilla non è scattata: il romanzo di formazione di Shahid, un giovane pakistano inurbato a Londra, sconta piani narrativi che si sovrappongono senza amalgamarsi e alcuni snodi narrativi fastidiosamente legnosi. La parte più interessante è quella che descrive la comunità di giovani estremisti islamici: una realtà che abbiamo imparato a conoscere, ma che quando il libro uscì, nella prima metà degli anni novanta, non era così di dominio pubblico. Un po’ stucchevole invece l’iniziazione sessuale e superficiale la descrizione del lato selvaggio della strada, dove il protagonista viaggia miracolosamente indenne all’ombra del caricaturale fratello. Anche il finale lascia un po’ di amaro in bocca, facendo incontrare le varie esperienze di Shahid e concludendole in maniera frettolosa: non si capisce neppure quanto si sia veramente ‘formato’ lo stesso protagonista, quanto abbia capito cosa vuol fare della sua vita. Così il libro resta in altalena - sempre ben scritto, è a volte interessante e divertente, come in tutto l’episodio della melanzana, ed altre noioso e banale – ed una volta girata l’ultima pagina il lettore si ritrova contento di potersi dedicare ad altro.

  • A. Suiter Clarke
    2019-04-30 17:05

    First posted on asuiterclarke.com:Studying a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing made me a critical reader. That was one of the many benefits of doing that degree, besides the obvious insights and instruction for my own writing. But still, I really hate to be critical. I like to look for positive aspects of things and brush over the negative.In book reviewing, however, I need to throw that habit out the window. Otherwise, I will beat around the bush and never really say what I want to say, which is this:I did not like The Black Album. I wanted to–really, I did. Because it just so happens that I’ve met the author, and it’s always harder to be harsh about someone’s writing when you know him. However, as much as I tried throughout the reading of this book, I couldn’t find anything to like. Hanif Kureishi is undoubtedly a good writer, well respected in the writing community, and a multi-award-winner. And there are obviously plenty of people who liked his second novel.I’m just not one of them. I enjoy reading diverse writing, and I do think that there isn’t enough of it in the mainstream these days. In that way, this was a refreshing read because I got to see inside the mind of someone very different from me: a young man, just starting uni in London, who grew up in a family from Pakistan.There was a slight familiarity to his circumstances because I, too, have been a foreigner leaving home for the first time to attend university in London. I understand the uneasiness and excitement of arriving in London, being on my own, living among strangers and trying to make friends while I discover who I really am. Those things I understand, and for that reason I was able to empathize with Shahid, even if just in the smallest way.Within weeks of arriving in London, Shahid meets his radical Muslim neighbors and falls for his married, liberal university professor. He is torn between his love of literature and hunger for knowledge, his sexual feelings for Deedee and the excitement of exploring the world of drugs and alcohol with her, and the passionate beliefs of his neighbor Riaz and his small band of followers.There’s a lot to work with here, but somehow, nothing much really happens. I found Shahid a weak character in every sense of the word. He seems incapable of making up his mind from one chapter to the next. At first, he’s going to leave Deedee and commit wholeheartedly to following Riaz and fighting for the Islamic faith. Then, pages later, he’s in bed with Deedee and ready to give up any interest in religion in order to be with her. And then, all of a sudden, he’s in his room and wishing he could just be alone and read his books.Now I suppose that’s not entirely unrealistic. We all face tough decisions in life, especially when we’re young and just starting out and don’t know our place in the world. That part of it is real to me. This is a coming-of-age story, after all, and that often involves a great amount of indecision.The issue I have is that even with all of the militant religion; the obscene sexual discussion; the imbibing of multiple illegal substances and alcohol; and the drama with Shahid’s brother becoming a cocaine addict and losing all his money, his wife, and his child because of it–I still felt like nothing happened. No one changed, at least not in any satisfying way.Kureishi’s writing isn’t bad. Some of the dialogue snaps on the page and his descriptions of London are certainly familiar to me, even though they were of London 20 years ago. There are moments of intensity when Riaz’s band of followers decide to burn Midnight’s Children on the university campus, or when they chase down Deedee and Shahid toward the end.As a reader, though, I always want at least one character to love. Even if it’s a person that I would never get along with in real life, I want to love him or her because I’m seeing the world through that character’s eyes. Unfortunately, I looked for 276 pages and that character, for me, was not to be found.

  • wally
    2019-05-13 12:16

    so yeah...i read about this one here...and so here i am, looking at it. Kindle version. I read the extended intro that this guy writes...i take it is about islam...and more so and so forth. i can't get over the idea that we can never escape the playground, you are IT!....and there's things that are happening here, according to the intro...along those lines.interesting intro, rather protracted, full of ideas...i'm curious to see if those ideas are...told in the telling? reading this one and another at the same time, something i rarely do...done....12 SEP 11...i think this is the version that i read....there is no Kindle version....and so much refers to a "novel" although this that i read is written like a play. so...also, there is a long and interesting essay prior to the story.for moi, it was hard to get into. one problem is the names. male? female? what? it is not like tom dick and harriet. and, in play-form, there is missing much of that other stuff, setting and scene, action. so...compare it to....what? a tale of two cities. off with their heads!so...um...read it for the ideas expressed in the essay: "one of the uses of literature is that it will enable individuals to enlarge their sense of self--their vocabulary, the store of ideas they use to think about themselves."yes.ideas about revolution here....as in dostoyevsky....where, say like in the idiot, the brothers k, etc, as well as tolstoy, there is this expression of self-hatred....and that translates to hatred, or call it 'self-hatred of country'....hey, the rest of the world hates the u.s. of a. so why shouldn't i too, put on a white sheet and begin to holler at the house?he quotes george bataille: 'man goes constantly in fear of himself. his erotic urges terrify him."but all this is in the setting of london....i take it...england for sure...and a group of pakistanians.has the fatwa been issued at yet? not by them....but by the PC in my country? perhaps this too will be defined as a hate crime, this review. anyway, these guys/gals w/islam on their shoulder, their back, go about the times....salman rushdie's satanic verses figure big big in the story. as does religion. ideas.one idea, as above: "the telling of stories helps us all. it starts a conversation, however hard that may be."from shahid.another from him: "then can't you accept that the writer is also being playful, and his new work will only make the faith stronger?"this poem by riaz gets rewritten....big big."isn't it funny that nudists always keep their shoes on?"yes, that is hilarious.from riaz: whose poetry got interpreted, censored or so: "a religion that's lost its hatred is not a religion--it is empty!"yes...there's that.perhaps a re-reading would bring about a 5-star rating as honestly, 3-stars is a bit low.....

  • Adam Rajah
    2019-05-10 10:31

    I thought Kureishi could have done a better job with this. A part of it seems too juvenile, and the main character is far too ambivalent, for the book to really touch upon the seduction of the fundamentalist narrative.Kureishi voices his social critique through Shahid, when he talks of the nature of liberalism, and the 1989 free speech debacle. But at points, Riaz, the leader of the mini pseudo-Islamist type faction, raises valid points, of his race, and class, having been oppressed, and hurt. He holds his own in debates, and we sympathise with him, and his struggle; he is organised, ambitious, and tries to help people. He kind of overplays the whole anti-Western attitude, but we see his emotional link to it.The character of Chad could have been more fleshed out, since he seems by far, to be the most interesting of the bunch. He's the ex-druggie, who turns clean with the help of religion, and the purpose it brings him. Chad fits into the interesting cases, where religion, even contemporarily, serves like a potion, in helping people. He finds purpose in his life, and is more aware of who he is, and how to focus on his own life. The main theme in the book, as with The Buddha of Suburbia, is belonging, with this book focusing on how Muslims around Shahid were being so loving, and welcoming, when he needed friends, whereas the other, deals with assimilation of immigrants. Rather than faith, or belief, or other metaphysical crap, Kureishi is keen to stress the point, that belonging, is one of the main apples of religion. We see that around us, with people staying in segregated groups, and at times, Kureishi sympathises with this. I don't know how to conclude this really. I wish the author could have touched on everything more, and made it slightly less comical. I guess I wanted more of a history of how religion, for immigrants has evolved, and how, and why, religion is burgeoning. I think, people deal with Shahid too lightly, with his philandering, and drug use, and we aren't made to see the consequences of such actions, which are quite severe in the real world. How people can become ostracised. How life without religion, is quite difficult in itself. I guess Kureishi, can't quite separate the main character from himself, having been born in an irreligious family, and so he isn't able to more accurately describe the struggle of religion, in deeply segregated communities. All in all, a good book, and I guess others might have found a lot to enjoy, and chiefly, a lot to learn about such communities in this book. But I expected just a little bit more.

  • Gabriel Nita
    2019-05-22 16:11

    Scris în 1995, The Black Album este cel de-al doilea roman al lui Hanif Kureishi (primul și ultimul, Buddha din suburbie și respectiv Am ceva să-ți spun, au fost traduse în română la editura Humanitas). Și de această dată personajul principal este prins în dilema proprei identități – un pakistanez musulman, născut și crescut în Anglia, oscilând între cele două culturi și căutând aproape cu disperare să se integreze. Tiparul e simplu: prima generație de imigranți sosește în Occident în căutarea unei sorți mai bune și muncește din greu ca să și-o croiască. Copiii sau nepoții lor însă se trezesc la mijloc între cultura occidentală și cea musulmană, fără să se regăsească în întregime în nici una din ele și, mai mult, de multe ori simțindu-se respinși de ambele. Tentațiile și pericolele sunt multe: sex, băutură, droguri, fundamentalism, rasism, violență.Dar Albumul negru e de fapt un răspuns la celebra fatwa din februarie 1989 a ayatolahului Khomeini împotriva autorului Versetelor satanice, astfel încât cartea e și o explorare a rolului literaturii și a dreptului scriitorului de a nu își cenzura imaginația. Cât de periculoase sunt cărțile, sunt ele o provocare de a gândi cu capul tău sau doar capcane din cuvinte care să îți strecoare în suflet îndoieli și gânduri periculoase? E religia alternativa mai bună (și autosuficientă)? Pot fi cuvintele un păcat capital, sau pot fi și un joc, o explorare, un experiment, o glumă?E justificată arderea unei cărți?Cartea lui Hanif Kureishi nu e scrisă rău, dar din păcate nu am găsit-o nici un moment prea convingătoare. Mi s-a părut prea demonstrativă, prea polarizată și simplificată (literatură vs. religie, a gândi vs. a crede, dragoste și individ vs. datorie și comunitate), personajele prea schematice, motivațiile și acțiunile lor reduse la niște clișee care vin în demonstrația unei idei: în ciuda pericolelor și a tentațiilor, e mai bine să explorezi și să îți trăiești viața la intensitate maximă, decât să îi lași pe alții să decidă pentru tine ce e bine și ce rău. Sunt de acord, literatura te învață să gândești, însă tocmai asta e ideea, un scriitor mai mare știe să își ascundă mai bine propriile concluzii și încearcă mai puțin să și le impună.

  • Ale
    2019-05-13 11:29

    A book that sets out to explore human nature and the powers of imagination, love and religion, The Black Album is perhaps a tad too ambitious in scope. The story follows Shahid, a student in London in 1989, torn between the liberalism of England, as dreamed by his parents, and the draw of religion, embodied by a group of fellow Pakistani Muslim students, lead by the charismatic Riaz. It is the year of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his work, The Satanic Verses, but also a year of Prince, Madonna, ecstasy, the fall of Communism across Eastern and Central Europe and disillusionment with Tory values.Kureishi genuinely raises some thought-provoking questions: what makes a family stay together? What is the role of religion in our materialistic lives? Does it really provide an adequate framework, and can we reconcile its requests with our own selfish natures? How important is imagination, and by extension, what is the role of books in modern society? Can we challenge ourselves, or are we doomed to simple black/white answers? What does it mean to be English, and can former colonies truly reconcile their history with their attempts to integrate into Western society; should they even attempt to? Sadly... he's just not very good at really explaining his thought processes through. To a certain extent, I can understand Shahid's desire to both please his parents, and find spiritual peace (which, weirdly enough, I found in atheism), but I cannot understand his ultimate choice. Because Kureishi never really goes in too much detail, despite following Shahid entirely, and it always seems like he has too many ideas that never really develop. Ultimately, it's an interesting novel, and I wish, I really wish, that he had done it better, cleaner, crisper.

  • Fiona
    2019-05-16 10:27

    This novel feels as relevant today as when it was written in 1995. In fact, if I’d read this in 1995 I think I would have been baffled by it, isolated as New Zealand was pre-9/11 from the cultural tension between Islam and the Western world. Unfortunately, I don’t thinks its relevance comes from the way the book is written but from its subject matter. The writing seems a little pedestrian, like the ideas were more important than the art. And even then, the ideas are not particularly nuanced. This last observation may be from the benefit of hindsight, as well as the mountain of essays, novels, poetry and books analysing the relationship between Islam and the West. The central character, Shahid, is caught between two Islamic extremes: the capitalist rationalism of his sister-in-law and the pious extremism of the Muslim group he become involved in. The fact that he ultimately rejects both of these extremes in favour of Western liberalism seems overly simplistic. It made me wonder who the book was written for. Referencing the fatwa placed on Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses, it seems like a sop for Western readers, ultimately cheerleading Western ideas of free speech and rationalism without ever really challenging those readers’ preconceptions of the Islamic World. I don’t mean that it should have supported the fatwa but the depiction of the Muslim community seemed so two dimensional, without any real examination of the causes of cultural tension and disenfranchisement. With political novels like this one, I want to have my thinking challenged, for a conflict to be presented in a way that I’ve never considered. Unfortunately, The Black Album never came close to doing this.

  • Lindita
    2019-05-21 15:18

    This is literally one of the worst books I´ve ever read. The plot is just stupid- there is no other word for it. I´ll take that back and say that the story itself had potential, but the way it was executed is a big disaster. The language is disgusting, like who the hell says "arse" and "cunt" (besides middle aged white men). Which brings me to my next point...if I didn´t know better, I would have thought that this pile of BS was written by a white man. OMG, the extremist Muslims must be stopped and saved and who´s better at this job than a sexually "liberated" white woman?-portraying minority groups in a supposedly "uncivilized" light? CHECK-acting as if young people from non-western backgrounds ALWAYS struggle due to their home cultures? CHECK-acting as though young Muslim people either are terrorists or westernized? CHECK-White Savior complex where a white woman saves the poor repressed brown boy? CHECK-romanticizing drugs, low life and at some points even pedophilia??? CHECKA fucking mess all around. Why do people love acting as if humans aren´t complex beings? Just because you´re Muslim doesn´t mean you hate "pleasure" and just because you´re non-religious doesn´t mean you´re a drug addicted piece of shit who doesn´t do anything but drugs, drink alcohol and look for barely legal people to have sex with.DISGUSTING. Please don´t bother reading this shit. I read until page 160 and then I couldn´t take it anymore and skipped my way through until the end because I hate not finishing books. I wish I could give it 0 stars. It´s one of those "Please, white people, love me!!! I´m not like THEM!!" books.

  • Sara Khan
    2019-05-26 16:08

    Personally as much as enlightening this book was for me,I enjoyed reading Kureishi much more in Intimacy and Buddha of Suburbia. The relevance of this whole dialectic between fundamentalism and liberality seems very in-depth and reflective for some intractable issues regarding this matter. Nevertheless the aspect of ideological alienation on part of Shahid seemed to me to have fall short of capturing the whole picture. In a bid to portray a pen-picture of immigration conglomerate in the cosmopolitan city of London, he either resorted to half-baked recipes of religiosity or mindless indulgence in the sensuality of the flesh. And any middle ground between the two sides seems too far to be irreparable and irredeemable for his myopic worldview. P.S. all the same, like all good books, some lines of this text would probably stay with me for a long time. Including which is the scathing cutting edge sarcasm posed towards the hypocrisy of the fanatics involving the whole aubergine episode and persecution mania involving an unread book that 'you would rather read a vegetable than read a book' and in doing so have turned your own brain into atrophied and worthless vegetables. :-)