In The Buddha of Suburbia (1990), Hanif Kureishi depicts one of the major issues during the late twentieth century in The United Kingdom of Britain, the notion of Britishness.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Britishness concerns only white people with a pure English identity. However, in the late twentieth century, the mass immigration has totally changed the British society, the fact that it leads the contemporary British literature play its effective role to portray these changes in Britain. Consequently, it reveals a strong need for redefining the concept of Britishness.
One of the prominent immigrant writers who is concerned with this issue is Hanif Kureishi. In his British novel The Buddha of Suburbia (1990), he describes the situations and the different experiences of first and second immigrants in the 1970s of multicultural Britain as they are trying to prove their existence there. In this matter, Hanif Kureishi deems that the immigrant people must have a definite identity and they have to prove their existence to be British as equal as the white people in Britain.
The present study aims to explore the theme of search for a certain identity and belonging to a particular society in The Buddha of Suburbia. More specifically, it explores how the main character Karim, a mixed race adolescent, strives to find out a fixed identity and a community to which he can fully belong. Thus, by the end of the novel, Karim realizes that his own identity is different from his father’s Indian identity. Moreover, he understands that he differs greatly from the Englishman and that the features of his life are based on “the otherness”. Overall, this case supports the thesis that Britishness is not only depending on having an English identity and a pure white skin, but rather it includes others regardless their personal and cultural identities.
Contemporary British society’s situation affects the literary production of the immigrant writers. Therefore, contemporary British literature is like a mirror that reflects the immigrants suffering with their hybrid identities in a multicultural society. Hanif Kureishi’s novel The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) depicts how the concept of Britishness is defined through having a hybrid British identity.