In all its optimism of the 90’s this story speaks in favour of hybridity and fluidity of identity. To not allow ourselves or others to put us in boxes of race, class or gender; to just be anything you want at any given moment and not be constrained or expect such things of others. But here, the characters only find this freedom in drugs and alcohol. The most intoxicated are the most liberated because they are too mentally disengaged from societal structures to participate in dogma or obligations.
The struggle arises from a need to fit in as Hassif meets a misterious man in the hall. This same need takes him on a journey of self discovery and an understanding of others in the process.
An enlightening read on the issues of racism, transnationalism, London, and life in general. Reading this, I couldn’t help picturing Riaz, the very same mystery man, in the body of Salman Rushdie. Odd considering the role that he plays but persistent nonetheless to my mind. I’ll refrain from saying more about him to avoid spoiling the book, but maybe when you read it; you will notice what I mean here.
Also, when reading this book it’s difficult to believe it was written in the 90’s; except when he mentions some very questionable fashion choices of dungarees that you realise this is not our decade. But like the generations that followed; there is a tone of optimism for the future. An inherent belief that things will get better and equality will prosper.
A genuinely easy and enjoyable read.