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The Black Album

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  1,728 ratings  ·  80 reviews
The second novel from one of the most celebrated voices in British fiction and film, The Black Album is an exhilarating multicultural coming-of-age tale featuring Shalid, a sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll-loving Pakistani student torn between a love affair with a gorgeous, free-spirited college professor and his desire to please his conservative Muslim community.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 29th 1996 by Scribner (first published January 1st 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,692)
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The Black Album is an excellent little novel exploring the dichotomy of being a muslim in a non-muslim society. It's like a catch-22 situation sometimes.
(Note, I wrote the review that follows for a magazine just after Sept. 11, 2001. The subsequent War on Terror has made The Black Album a very prescient book, a sort of embryonic look at such extremism.)

Hanif Kureishi excels in exposing the sour taste of tired overworked, spoiled radicalism. In Buddha of Suburbia, he conveyed the decay of the 60s idealism leading to the advent of Thatcherism. But he's no neo-conservative. Kureishi takes on political correctness with imagination as a weapon, rath
This book seemed like a prophecy of things to come for modern Britain. Set in the late 80s around the time of Salman Rushdie's fatwah, it investigates the relationship between young British muslims and the mainstream white culture. The central character is torn between being devout and sharing the virtues and values of his muslim brothers and launching into the rave culture and free wheeling morals of his fellow students.

It all comes to a head over the burning of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses
Andrew Camp
This is one of those rare books that I have read before albeit seventeen years ago when pretending to be an idealistic student. I liked it back then and I love it now.

It tells the tale of Shahid, a British late-teenager of Pakistani origins and his desire to open his mind through reading and study at a run down, London college. There, he meets several people of huge, conflicting influence on his life. Deedee, a college lecturer, a child of the liberal sixties, stimulates both his mind and body,
An evocative trip into Thatcher's London in the 80s. Interesting from the viewpoint of a post 9/11 world to read about the attractions of Muslim fundamentalism to second generation immigrants in the UK. I'd forgotten about the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and hadn't linked that in to later events.

But this novel is more than that. It's not just about the confused identify of the immigrant, especially one of a different colour and religion, its just as much about growing up, finding yourself and c
Stefanny Irawan
Now that I have finished reading this, I stand my ground that the contradiction the author put within the main character, some sort of caught-in-the-middle situation, is quite interesting. The portrayals of ehtnicity, racism, and drug scene are quite potent and can reveal the other side of London. However, this book doesn't really touch me significantly. Therefore I only gave 2 stars.
PS: the picture of the book's cover displayed here is upside-down.
A. Suiter Clarke
First posted on

Studying a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing made me a critical reader. That was one of the many benefits of doing that degree, besides the obvious insights and instruction for my own writing. But still, I really hate to be critical. I like to look for positive aspects of things and brush over the negative.

In book reviewing, however, I need to throw that habit out the window. Otherwise, I will beat around the bush and never really say what I want to say, w
J Aslan
Having grown in the same area as Kureshi I was could relate exactly to his attitude to his home town but the London that I went to and the London that he went to, though close in proximity, proved to be worlds apart. Although I did not enjoy parts of this book (and Kureshi's penchant for rambling sentences) I would recommend it for the subtle exposure of his cultural experience despite the slightly flabby plot.
Known for the autobiographical nature of his fiction, Kureishi's TBA finds his young bourgeois protagonist thrust between a charismatic ideologue and his motley crew and the "pop life" of a post-feminist intellectual. It is exciting to watch the protagonist hem and haw his way into the very corner he so tries to avoid.
Hmmm - this was thought provoking in some ways, and was set against an interesting backdrop, but I felt the characters were poorly drawn and left me cold.

The story meanders, whilst making some good points, but ultimately led me down the path of disappointment.
This is literally one of the worst books Ive ever read. The plot is just stupid- there is no other word for it. Ill take that back and say that the story itself had potential, but the way it was executed is a big disaster. The language is disgusting, like who the hell says "arse" and "cunt" (besides middle aged white men). Which brings me to my next point...if I didnt know better, I would have thought that this pile of BS was written by a white man. OMG, the extremist Muslims must be stopped and ...more
Ulla-riitta Mankki
The book gives an interesting point of view of the conflicts between of a young man living in London. His family comes from Pakistan, he meets a kind of hippie woman, his teacher, who becomes his girl friend and sexual partner. His Islamic society presses him, on the other side his family with great expectations for the son. Furthermore he gets in conflict not only sex, drugs and things like this, but the mental disagreements between the way in a western city and the way of the society around hi ...more
This novel feels as relevant today as when it was written in 1995. In fact, if I’d read this in 1995 I think I would have been baffled by it, isolated as New Zealand was pre-9/11 from the cultural tension between Islam and the Western world. Unfortunately, I don’t thinks its relevance comes from the way the book is written but from its subject matter. The writing seems a little pedestrian, like the ideas were more important than the art. And even then, the ideas are not particularly nuanced. Thi ...more
A book that sets out to explore human nature and the powers of imagination, love and religion, The Black Album is perhaps a tad too ambitious in scope. The story follows Shahid, a student in London in 1989, torn between the liberalism of England, as dreamed by his parents, and the draw of religion, embodied by a group of fellow Pakistani Muslim students, lead by the charismatic Riaz. It is the year of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his work, The Satanic Verses, but also a year of Prince, M ...more
Gabriel Nita
Scris în 1995, The Black Album este cel de-al doilea roman al lui Hanif Kureishi (primul și ultimul, Buddha din suburbie și respectiv Am ceva să-ți spun, au fost traduse în română la editura Humanitas). Și de această dată personajul principal este prins în dilema proprei identități – un pakistanez musulman, născut și crescut în Anglia, oscilând între cele două culturi și căutând aproape cu disperare să se integreze. Tiparul e simplu: prima generație de imigranți sosește în Occident în căutarea u ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in October 1998.

Like Kureishi's earlier novel, The Buddha of Suburbia, The Black Album deals with the issues surrounding growing up in London as a young man of Asian background. It is set just over a decade later, in the summer of 1989. It is a darker novel; the setting is rather more sordid (student digs in Kilburn rather than a rich house in West London), and the forces of racism against Sahid are now matched by the growing strength of Islamic fundamentalis
so yeah...i read about this one here...and so here i am, looking at it. Kindle version. I read the extended intro that this guy writes...i take it is about islam...and more so and so forth. i can't get over the idea that we can never escape the playground, you are IT!....and there's things that are happening here, according to the intro...along those lines.

interesting intro, rather protracted, full of ideas...i'm curious to see if those ideas are...told in the telling?

reading this one and anoth
I just finished The Black Album, which was my start with Kureishi after being curious about him for a long time.

I really enjoyed the novel on the whole, but I'll start with the two main sticking points I have with it:
(a) Although the conflict between liberal and literary ideals and the pull of fundamentalist Islam drives the story, to me, Shahid (the main character)'s relationship with books, music and Deedee (his college teacher, another central character) are better drawn and described than
I read this for two reasons - I'm currently living in East London, and working my way through the 'Revolutionary Writers' series. The London portrayed seems very realistic, and the book seems to be prescient about the spread of the influence of Islam in the capital - the politician 'Rudder' brought to mind George Galloway who became an MP here after the period covered. The Asian students certainly seem similar to those amongst whom I live - a mix of Western hedonism and religious/cultural fervou ...more
The unthinking certainty of religious belief clashes with the drugged fueled passion of mindless liberalism in this entertaining novel by Kurieshi. It's set in the world of mid-1980's London where a younger generation of Pakistani muslims are beginning to reject the values of their immigrant parents, who have adopted "western ways" while at the same time they are increasingly rejected by, at least a certain segment of, that "western" society they so cherish. The younger generation, at least a ce ...more
Shahid is a naive bookish Pakistani chap, having moved out of home and into college is hoping to find his place in the world. Instead he becomes more confused and ends up needing to chose between his lover (and teacher) and his new idealistic mates. Whilst angsting over his narcissistic brother

The years which this novel is set were my formative years - I can relate to much of the ideology, drug taking and sexual liberation. However I found it rather confusing to follow, dated but true to its tim
Steven  Passmore
A book like this only comes to me once a year, or summer at least. Hanif Kureishi is an amazing writer. The book resonated with me living around Pakistanis and Afghans. Around Devon Ave. here in Chicago you'll see a teenager in a snap back and Air Jordans with his mother tailing behind him in traditional Pashtun clothing. Hanif Kureishi's book, I think, is about this existential struggle. I also liked that even though Shahid was an immigrant living in London, he seemed to draw to the American mi ...more
This book is a Bildungsroman about a young Pakistani college student named Shahid living and studying in England. Once in England Shahid rapidly becomes part of a conservative Islamic group, led by a man named Riaz. Shahid then quickly discovers pleasure and passion with his professor Deedee Osgood. We are then taken on Shahid's journey of self-discovery and the pressure he feels between being either conservative like Riaz or liberal in his views like Deedee.
I felt this book was very slow and I
This book is all over the place with its characters. Most of them seem weak and underdeveloped, especially the main character.
Maybe that's the authors style, but it's just not for me. I will try his more popular book 'Buddha in suburbia' and see how it goes.
'The black album' reads like random rumblings in someone's notebook.
I've given it a shot - I was barely able to finish The Buddha of Suburbia, and I struggled with this one as well. I like the way he writes, I can't stand what he writes about. Life is too short to read about people and places that you'd stay miles away from in reality.
Alex Sheene
The black album really sets the scene in East London better than any other of kureishis books, you can almost hear and smell London as you read as well as really growing to understand the characters
A pomo twist on the classic 'clash of civilizations' narrative, Shahid tried to bridge the Islam/West gap and find himself. I think I would have appreciated this more if I had read it pre- 9/11 (when it was released) context. Otherwise, it's eerily reminiscent of The Reluctant Fundamentalist (which came out after The Black Album, but I read Reluctant Fundamentalist first). Unlike many other readers, I don't think this is actually about Islamic fundamentalism but rather about poverty, which drips ...more
Liz W
Jul 18, 2009 Liz W rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one, really. maybe someone of the same nationality as the author, but really, not even then.
Recommended to Liz by: no one. it was on clearance and had a neat name.
this is really the most boring book i have ever read. i read the whole thing, waiting in vain for something good to happen, and while i was waiting, in vain, the book ended. that was it. the last page. no climax, no excitment. i could say that something good did happen, the book ended, but with a name like "the black album", you might expect something more intriguing. maybe something having to do with, and this is a stretch....a black album. maybe i missed something, but the title and the fact t ...more
I would rate it lower than the Buddha of Suburbia. Good read none the less
Thomas Strömquist
The only thing less than great about the black album is that it is kind of long for a short story and kind of short for a novel. I guess it would "fit" in the latter category, but as such, I would have loved another hundred or so pages. These could really bring depth to the (otherwise very good) characters. The story revolves around a university student that finds himself involved with a fundamentalist religious group and with one of his lecturers at the same time. Loved the book and especially ...more
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Hanif Kureishi is the author of novels (including The Buddha of Suburbia, The Black Album and Intimacy), story collections (Love in a Blue Time, Midnight All Day, The Body), plays (including Outskirts, Borderline and Sleep With Me), and screenplays (including My Beautiful Laundrette, My Son the Fanatic and Venus). Among his other publications are the collection of essays Dreaming and Scheming, The ...more
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“...I love 'yes.' It's practically the most interesting word of all, don't you think?" Like a hinge opening a door outward. Yes, yes, yes.” 18 likes
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