But this is a detour which gets him no nearer to London than Bromley.
Jamila is clearly the political heroine of the novel. Kureishi portrays Eva as a social climber at war with the city: "Eva was planning her assault on London. Discovering them having sex, Karim reflects: Was I conceived like this, I wondered, in the suburban night air, to the wailing of Christian curses from the mouth of a renegade Muslim masquerading as a Buddhist?
I felt it would be heart-breaking to have to choose one or the other, like having to decide between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. London itself is associated by Karim to a sound. This liminal space offers the hope of something lasting and precious: a reconstruction of society with integrity and moral purpose at its core.
Writers with a sense of humour seem to get these warnings more than most, perhaps because irresponsibility is an essential element of comic writing. The theatre directors with whom he works, first Shadwell and then Pyke, are shown as no more able to look beyond the stereotype than the conventional suburbanite.
At night they roamed the streets, beating Asians and shoving shit and burning rags through their letter-boxes.
Reviewed by a local Book Club. At home, I found myself speaking Gujarati less and less. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. And hugely influential for a generation of writers, me included, of course.