It is the saddest night, for I am leaving and not coming back. Tomorrow morning, when the woman I have lived with for six years has gone to work on her bicycle, and our children have been taken to the park with their ball, I will pack some things into a suitcase, slip out of my house hoping that no one will see me, and take the tube to Victor’s place.
In the first two sentences, Hanif Kureishi establishes everything about the novella. A man is walking out of his marriage. They have children. His wife does not know. He is sneaking away. Their lives have been hitherto ‘normal’. He has no concrete plans upon leaving. There is a sense of tremendous loss and melancholy. This sets the vein for everything that follows. Kureishi is a tremendous writer.
I picked this book up at the library because the first two sentences form the blurb of the book and I was instantly hooked. I was not disappointed. It read a lot like Anne Enright but only much, much better. The entire book only spans a day and a half, but speaks of a lifetime of memeories, life, laughter, and pain.
I loved how each thought in the protagonist’s head spins off into some sort of memeory. It is not exactly ‘stream of consciousness’ though. Just a beautiful series of images that take a reader through his past and made me think that life is so strange that if you think from the point of view of the wife, she actually has no idea at all. And this immense sense of loss is so deep. The characters are all suitably flawed as well, and the author does a good job of laying their insecurities and inadequacies bare.
This is not a very long read, took me two or three hours at best.So it s a good read for a short travel. But it does leave you with a sense of displacement and sadness so I would account for that and not read it if you’re going to a party or something!!