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Greetings from Bury Park: A Memoir Paperback – April 8, 2008
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Sarfraz Manzoor is now a journalist who can competently describe his feelings as a boy who didn't quite fit in either with his white schoolmates or his Pakistani family. Where he found his niche, however, was as a devoted fan of Bruce Springsteen and his music. He was introduced to Springsteen's songs by a Sikh friend from school, and almost immediately fell under the Boss's spell. Throughout the book he refers to ways that particular songs seem to capture his situation in life. He also made a concerted effort to attend Springsteen concerts whenever he could - including traveling to the U.S. for one shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
The other main focus of Manzoor's memoir is his father. As a first-generation immigrant, Manzoor's father worked very hard his entire life to try to make a better life than he would have had in Pakistan. Yet he was a traditional Pakistani in his views of all things British - seeing them as too liberal, thus there was near constant conflict with his children about Muslin values versus white attitudes and actions.
This memoir gives an excellent picture of the lives of Pakistanis in Britain as well as an interesting documentary on how one man's music can affect another's life.Read more ›
It's about a young bloke from London who is torn between his strict Pakistani upbringing and his love for rock music, particularly anything by Bruce Springsteen. Gradually he musters the strength and gumption to tear away from his parents more and more, dressing rebeliously and eventually even flying to America on whims just to see Springsteen concerts. The young man is not only fixated but obsessed and Bruce is often likened to a messiah of sorts. The entire book is about seperating oneself from his/her culture for the sake of personal identity. Interesting...
However, what wasn't so interesting was the main character. He came off as a constant complainer, selfishly abandoning his important duties to his family just so that he could indulge in his gluttonous love for self-expression. Seldom did he ever sacrifice himself for those who took care of him, even after the tragic death of his father through circumstance I can well identify with. He was constantly whining about how bad he had it when all the while he was the only person in his family who got to have it his way. His father, God rest his soul, worked his tail off to make enough money in England for his family to migrate over and lead better lives. His sisters, being female, were already done in through cultural demands and thus were expected to shoot low in life's grand plan. His brother, strictly adhering to the beliefs of his upbringing, took on all of the responsibilities that the main character chose to forsake.Read more ›
The story of "Greetings from Bury Park" leads through the life of the author Sarfraz Manzoor, from his early childhood to the breakthrough as writer. On this way, Manzoor does not proceed strictly chronologically, but concentrates each chapter on a different topic that played a role in his life, like the relationship to his father or his unbelievable passion for "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen. Like it or not, it is without doubt this stylistic device that makes "Greetings from Bury Park" unique and sets it aside from other autobiographies of immigrants in the UK.
In my personal opinion, although making the book special, this device leads to a too high level of repetition throughout the story, since all the issues that the author encounters in his life are heavily linked. Discussing each of them for its own does certainly lower the readers' interest in the book when hearing the same aspect about the relationship between father and son the third time in an only slight variation.
But apart from this annoying detail, the book gives the reader a thorough and deep portrait of a generation that had to find its place between the cultural roots of their families and the liberal western lifestyle they encounter in their everyday life.Read more ›