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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  3,551 ratings  ·  332 reviews
Hanif Kureishi's fourth novel made many reviewers uneasy on its first appearance in the U.K., because it cuts so painfully near to the bone. If a novelist's first duty is to tell the truth, then the author has done his duty with unflinching courage. Intimacy gives us the thoughts and memories of a middle-aged writer on the night before he walks out on his wife and two young sons f ...more
252 pages
Published 2001 by Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verlag (first published 1998)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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 ·  3,551 ratings  ·  332 reviews

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Mar 08, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I was ever (God forbid) asked to teach a course on the ethics of fiction, this slim novel would surely be on the assigned reading list.

Intimacy unfolds over the course of 24 hours as its protagonist, a middle-aged screenwriter named Jay, prepares to leave Susan, the mother of his two young sons. Not that he has told her he's going; he intends simply to pack his bag and slip out the door in the morning after she goes to work.

This is a case of art imitating life if there ever was one. Like h/>
Rania Attafi
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
i absolutely love this book! i get why everyone is frustrated with Jay as a character, he does have a hard to like personality. i struggled trying to understand things from his perspective at times, but realising that he is a human after all i could somewhat understand the reason behind some of the decisions he made even if i didn't share his opinions. on another note i loved the writing style and the brutally honest ways Kureishi chose to convey his messages and criticize the institution of mar ...more
Anum S.
The first and most alarming thing you find out about marriage, pretty much within days of your wedding, is that it is fraught with uncertainty. At first I thought this was just me, but then I began talking to other people and I realized that pretty much everyone experiences crippling doubt at one point or another about whether getting married was the right decision.

There was too much of me, I know that. We want love but we don’t want to lose ourselves.

Marriage is tough, that I knew. But that you could q
Ian "Marvin" Graye
A Joke Followed by an Intimacy

After reading Milan Kundera's "The Joke", I returned it to the shelf, and looked for something short to read next. Happily, I found it next to my Kunderas. I thought "Intimacy" might continue some of the themes about relationships that had interested me in "The Joke".

After finishing it, I discovered a 2001 interview with Kureishi in the Guardian in which he revealed that he had been reading "The Joke" that very morning.

In some ways, Kureishi was to the 90's what Kundera
My brain holds a big disparity. On the one hand, I loved the writing style and thought a lot of the ideas displayed were very intriguing and raw; on the other hand, there are some very controversial and unethical thoughts in here. It became difficult to separate the author and the narrator. Still very happy I've read this.

Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own, favourites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
After reading loads of reviews, what amazes me is that apparently not all women take this self-indulgent crap as a personal affront. Yes, Kureishi is a gifted writer. Okay, his take on the excruciating ruminations of a husband plotting to leave his family is 100% believable. But I can't get past my desire to castrate the narcissistic bastard. It must have been fun to write--a bit like writing from the perspective of a mafia hit man--without any compulsion to tie together the the disparate aspect ...more
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The theme of this book may not be to the liking of everybody,a middle aged man prepares to walk out on his wife and kids.But it is a beautifully crafted story,full of sadness and loss,as he realizes there is no coming back,and the memories are very painful.So far,Hanif Kureishi's best book for me.
Amal Bedhyefi
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a lot to say so please bare with me .
This is a story of a middle-aged british screenwriter , Jay , who decides to leave his wife and two children & the whole book is actually a dialogue by Jay filled with flashbacks to his own past .
I don't know how to feel about this book .
It's daring ,brutal , hard to read , provocative , the characters , or the protagonist , Jay , is not likeable at all , instead you constantly feel like hitting him . But at the same time , it's c
One man pondering his life and relationships the night before he plans to leave his partner and children. Not very likeable.
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would love to give this book a 5 star rating. But only one question prevents it "What if its my father?". An excellent and extremely dangerous book. Its like Sofia Cappollo and Sam Mendes sat together to write something which is a sequel to 'Lost in Translation' and a prequel to 'American beauty'. Engaging and yet edgy Mr.Kureshi has pulled off a ripper and gives us a world of emotional-sexual turmoil(Its autobiographical you see). It is so real,for example the man watches his children with al ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such agreat writing style and very insightful...the story itself is very believable and describes the ending of a long relationship and the thoughts one has in the process.
Robert Wechsler
The fascinating, wandering monologue of a British man with a wife and two children who has decided to leave his wife in the morning. He is a bastard, even confessing to violent actions (although he’s not all that reliable), but an interesting bastard, who occasionally spews wisdom and tenderness, but less often than he spews cruelty and perversity. I found this monologue increasingly trying (or less intriguing), even though it is only a novella. A 3.5.
Habiba ALAYA
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm literally speechless. I don't know what to feel after reading this book. It goes against everything I believe in specially as a feminist but in some way I do undersatnd what he is talking about and even worse he manages to convience me throughout the novel to agree with him(on some issues not all of them) and see things from his view.This dude can write! I still think he's an arrogant , narcissistic bastard but he's a phenomenal writer.
Thomas Strömquist
Kureishi at his very best, an excruciating short story about the end of a relationship. Both dreamy and intense and very very sad. Most is made up of a monologue taking place in the narrators head (presumably) but it still is has a very distinct feel of theater drama, I was envisioning every character on stage during reading.
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
I bought Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi in a pristine hardback edition from the Children's Society charity shop in Garstang for 99p. It is a short novella length book and, written in the first person as it is, could almost be mistaken for memoir rather than fiction. I did learn, when reading other reviews after finishing, that Kureishi had actually lived out the theme - of a man leaving his wife and children - shortly before the book was published.

I was intrigued by the synopsis and hope
Feb 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Nothing is as fascinating as love, unfortunately."

"How do I write? With a soft pencil and a hard dick - not the other way around."

The man is masturbating as his narrating goes on - and he tells us what's on his mind! Never seen this before... Daring style of writing.
From my notes of 2004: "It has a certain wisdom for anyone considering a break-up or divorce." (Hmmm!)
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I think far too many people get wrapped up in what the narrator did/does in the novel. This is an effective novel that does what it seeks out to accomplish: namely, give the run-down of a departure.

I mean, if you're going to rate a book one or two stars for diabolic behavior, I would hate to see what "Crime and Punishment" receives...
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Self-indulgent, self-pitying navel gazing, but brutally honest and unsettling in its exploration of a life-changing decision and all the pedestrian humanness behind it. The assertion in the synopsis that men will cringe in recognition and women will be horrified is laughable. Men would love to think that the actions and emotions experienced by the protagonist belong to them alone, while we, the nagging domestic harridens, cling to our men and think only of our precious family unit. That underlyi ...more
Aug 27, 2009 rated it liked it
I had heard of Hanif Kureishi's name of course, but there wasn’t much chance I would have picked up any of his novels anytime soon had I not read about him in Amitava Kumar's highly engaging book, Bombay-London-New York. The book is about Kumar's struggle as a writer and the numerous literary influences which shaped his life and craft. The book had an enormously interesting description of author, playwright Hanif Kureishi, known for his controversial, soul-baring and highly sexed up prose. The w ...more
May 15, 2011 rated it liked it
A very personal and intimate oration by a man who is about to walk out of his home and life (leaving his wife and two small children). It is well written, eloquent and thought provoking and I felt I could look at it objectively despite having no particular liking for the narrator who is self indulgent and pitiful to an extent, however in essence he is not able to live the life he has carved out for himself - some other reviewers seem to find this unbearable to read and perhaps morally wrong (but ...more
Aug 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1001, unfinished, reviewed
I confess: after about the 40th page I was so bored with it that I skipped to the end to see if it gets good. It does not. I'm reminded of my first go-round with Proust's Remembrance of Things Past: such long-winded narrators! I ended up dropping the class that was reading Remembrance, but at least I'm looking forward to picking it up and trying again! Not so with this one. Kureishi's ability to write a novel so sluggish and yet short doesn't mean he's a genius. It simply confirms that there are ...more
Amanda Wallace
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting because of it's cut throat style of honesty, although it was a little uncomfortable to read at times, I admire Kureishi for the brutal honesty and vitality he gives to the characters.
Rue Baldry
I did not find anything to like in the central character, Jay. He reminded me of all the annoying characters in Love In A Blue Time (so the protagonists of all the stories except My Son The Fanatic). He is selfish, self-pitying, entitled, self-indulgent and needy. I think we are supposed to admire his honesty, but even that is whiny. I've read too many characters like Jay in books written by men in the 90s (Martin Amis for example). At least Brett Easton Ellis took his to the logical, if also ab ...more
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I hated this story. Self-indulgent, self-pitying drivel about a man who is preparing to leave his hard working, patient, and frankly over-tolerant wife, the mother of his two children, because he wants to go out and have sex with younger, fitter, 'more interesting' women.

Conversely, I enjoyed Kureishi's writing style, and there were a couple of sentences that stood out as really beautiful, though they were floating in a pile of shite so they were bound to stand out.

Part of me wonders if
Davor Dimoski
There is a lot of pain in this book. The protagonist Jay has somehow ended up in a loveless marriage and he finds himself longing to escape its confines. Leaving is not a particularly easy decision to make, especially when it's not only his wife that he's leaving behind but also his two little children. There is a lot of internal conflict he's going through in the process of making the decision. He knows there are more rational solutions that would cause less pain, like having a conversation wit ...more
Mehwish Mughal
Leaving a relationship because it is not working out - good
Everything else - bad
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Quite a hard book to rate. I have to admit, I knew nothing about the book or author going into this, but since reading a few reviews online, it seems this is mostly thought of as a (not well at all) disguised account of the authors own life.
Obviously I feel sorry for the wife and kids having it all put out there (whether it actually is based on them, that's what people are going to think).
Well, our main character here isn't a nice man, that's for sure. I'm not sure if he is intentionally sh
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A lot of people hate this book because the character is such an a**hole. Actually, I think he is very honest and well-constructed, albeit unlikeable. He's actually the best of the book. He struggles with his midlife crisis and his pretentiousness and attempts to reach to various conclusions as he tries to gather the strength to abandon his family. Yep, I'm not making this stuff up.

The pace was... odd. There were some interesting insights and comments, but after some time it got ol
This was a tough one for me. On the one hand, it reads like patriarchy in action, which will always leave me with a knot in the throat. On the other, some sentences are so artfully composed AND there is (I think/hope?) a value to putting your finger on the pulse of what patriarchal thinking in the context of romance may look like, particularly through the vehicle of fiction.

Some favorite sentences:
"To move on is an infidelity - to others, to the past, to old notions of oneself."
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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
“At the same time, you have to find the right distance between people. Too close, and they overwhelm you, too far and they abandon you. How to hold them in the right relation?” 199 likes
“Soon we will be strangers. No, we can never be that. Hurting someone is an act of reluctant intimacy. We will be dangerous acquaintances with a history.” 143 likes
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