Something to Tell You: Hanif Kureishi

Hanif Kureishi might forever be associated with the 90s (The Buddha of Suburbia, My Beautiful Laundrette) –but with Something to Tell You, I am very happy to report that he’s back(!), with a rich, immensely engaging and ambitious new novel. The narrator is Jamal, a successful psychoanalyst and author (think Adam Phillips!), who, as he edges further into middle age, finds experience becoming more and more confronting – coming to terms with his failed marriage, the fact that his eccentric sister Miriam has seduced his best mate, and the coming-of-age of his son, Raji. But in a stunning revelation early in the book, we discover there is also a skeleton in the cupboard, dating back to the 70s, which makes the secrets of the majority of his patients pale into insignificance – namely that Jamal was implicated in the sudden death of the father of his first love, the beautiful Ajita - a fellow philosophy student during his uni days. And when she reappears in his life 30 years later.

What follows is a beautifully realised series of set-pieces that alternate between the past and the present – from vivid reminiscences of growing up with Miriam in suburban England (and their fateful visit to Pakistan), to frequently comic accounts of bad behaviour amongst Jamal’s very memorable group of friends. Sex and therapy, drugs and religion, music and multiculturalism, terrorism and philosophy – all get a look-in – it’s Kureishi after all! -– but not for a long time has he made of it such a satisfying whole.