The Black Album

The Black Album


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The Black Album 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
navidad_thelamour More than 1 year ago
“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 republished 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 combatting 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 Salmon 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 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... See the full review and others at The Navi Review ( and follow the blog on Twitter @thenavireview
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kureishi began as playwright and you can see that in this book with its never ending presence of dialogue.This is a major problem I found with this book.The oft mentioned importance of the story with its ability to enchant and transfix is not something that in my opinion features at all. Add to that the stagnant nature of the book going nowhere . Our friend Shahid is surrounded on all sides by various forces that seek to shape him and he in turn seeks some enlightenment .We have the Muslims on one hand who try to show him their way of living and then we have the Deedee Osgoood , his love interest who is everything the muslims are not.Shahid is caught up in the middle of these forces .He is not strong and he just wants to enjoy himself , especially with Deedee Osgood . But he is not averse to the Muslim life.However in his attempt to appease, he fails and he has to choose but he doesn't want to and he doesn't.What he does do is not care and have intoxicating fun-with Deedee Osgood. It is a common feature of books nowadays to give the human experience and forget about some kind of plot in which the human experience may be reflected.It's a sad state of affairs because such books are depressing and only serve to say there is no purpose to human existence(Thank you ,Jean-Paul Sartre). Such books go nowhere. But I will not deny the human experience as expressed in this book , though it has no sauce to give it extra flavour. And to be fair ,it is a fair book that shows both sides.