Something to Tell You
In the early 1980s Hanif Kureishi emerged as one of the most compelling new voices in film and fiction. His movies My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid and his novel The Buddha of Suburbia captivated audiences and inspired other artists. In Something to Tell You, he travels back to those days of hedonism, activism and glorious creativity. And he explores the lives of that generation now, in a very different London.
Jamal is middle-aged, though reluctant to admit it. He has an ex-wife, a son he adores, a thriving career as a psychoanalyst and vast reserves of unsatisfied desire. "Secrets are my currency," he says. "I deal in them for a living." And he has some of his own. He is haunted by Ajita, his first love, whom he hasn't seen in decades, and by an act of violence he has never confessed.
With great empathy and agility, Kureishi has created an array of unforgettable characters -- a hilarious and eccentric theater director, a covey of charming and defiant outcasts and an ebullient sister who thrives on the fringe. All wrestle with their own limits as human beings; all are plagued by the past until they find it within themselves to forgive.
Comic, wise and unfailingly tender, Something to Tell You is Kureishi's best work to date, brilliant and exhilarating.
Reading Group Guide
1. The opening line of Something to Tell You is: "Secrets are my currency: I deal in them for a living." What is the role of secrecy in this novel? What are we to make of Jamal's profession as a psychiatrist and his own late quest for self-knowledge?
2. How would you characterize Jamal? What challenge lays ahead for Jamal at the start of the novel? What conclusions does Jamal draw about the trajectory of his life? Do these conclusions represent a shift for Jamal? Why or why not?
3. Jamal's relationship with his sister, Miriam, is pivotal throughout the novel. How would you describe their relationship? How accurately does each sibling assess the other's strengths and weaknesses? What does Jamal and Miriam's relationship reveal about their familial dynamics and its impact on both?
4. What does Kureishi mean when he employs the Ibsen quote: "We sail with a corpse in the cargo?" What corpses do Jamal and the other characters carry with them? Does Kureishi offer any means by which they can be freed of their respective corpses? If yes, how? If no, why not?
5. Parental loss abounds in the novel. Identify the types of parental loss the primary characters experience and how each reconciles or fails to reconcile the loss? What do Kureishi's representations of parents and parenting suggest about the nature of this complicated endeavor? Do you agree with his claims? Why or why not?
6. How does the novel aptly see more