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Something to Tell You: A Novel Hardcover – August 19, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Prolific screenwriter, playwright and novelist Kureishi has a gift for smart, sparkling prose and expertly crafted characters, and it is on full display in his latest, the funny and heartbreaking story of Jamal Khan, a successful middle-aged London psychoanalyst dogged by a crushing secret and a long-burning torch for his first love. Jamal's son, Rafi, and ex-wife, Josephine, are still very much involved in Jamal's life, but nobody knows that Jamal is still profoundly in love with his high school girlfriend, Ajita, or that his connection to her is soiled by his complicity in a long-ago violent crime. As an analyst, he knows just how haunting the past can be (Secrets are my currency, he informs the reader), and he makes a convincing and often comedic case that madness is an ordinary, unsurprising part of contemporary life. The father-son relationship is especially brilliant, and Kureishi is adept as ever in balancing humor and his piercing insight into the human condition. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

Jamal is a London-based psychoanalyst who could use some sessions of his own. The middle-aged divorcé continues to be obsessed with thoughts of his first love. He met Ajita at university, and no woman since, including Jamal’s ex-wife, Josephine, has possessed her beauty, brains, and wit. But lost love is not the worst of Jamal’s problems. He has never confessed to the murder he and two shady mates committed during their student years. Kureishi, a Whitbread Prize winner and two-time Oscar-nominated screenwriter (Venus and My Beautiful Laundrette), conjures a confessional tale in which Jamal endlessly ruminates upon the good and ill in his life. It’s a bit wearying at times, despite a colorful cast of characters. Among them: Henry, a quirky theater director and incorrigible gossip; Miriam, Jamal’s mercurial sister, with a conspicuous collection of piercings and tattoos; and London itself, endlessly eclectic and electric. Kureishi has created an intriguing character in Jamal. But the novel’s ending is a letdown, after so much angst and ado. --Allison Block

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (August 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416572104
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416572107
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,710,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Foster Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jamal Khan, the narrator of Hanif Kureishi's outrageously wonderful latest novel SOMETHING TO TELL YOU is one of the most unusual protagonists you are likely to meet. Middle-aged with an expanding midriff, he is a psychoanalyst fond of quoting Freud, Dante, Proust, Faulkner, Updike, et al. with never enough money to support his estranged wife Josephine, his beloved twelve-year-old son Rafi or his own spending habits as he wears green Paul Smith loafers, among other luxuries. The son of a Pakistani father and English mother, he is haunted by his first love, a beautiful Indian woman, and at the same time guilt-ridden because of an unconfessed crime. It is no accident that he refers often to Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov.

Jamal is surrounded by a cast of characters that Kureishi draws with a myriad of details so that they come alive as complex human beings on every page. His sister Miriam, whose face is covered with what the writer calls "nuts and bolts" and whose body is full of tattoos, is a Muslim single mother of either five children by three different men or three children by five men-- Jamal cannot remember. Her new lover Henry is a theatre and film director and her brother's best friend. He is separated from his wife Valerie; their two children are Lisa, a social worker who eschews the material, having once lived in a tree and having thrown paint at McDonald's and, according to one character, probably has dirt between her toes; and Sam who is outraged when he catches his father and Miriam engaged in S/M sex. The beautiful Indian woman is Ajita, who harbors her own dark secret; her brother is Mustag who becomes a popular singer; their father is the owner of a factory in London.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With "Something To Tell You" Hanif Kureishi returns to the soul-searching of the British citizen of mixed, Pakistani-English, descent. While "The Buddha of Suburbia" tackled the problems of adolescence in an immigrant environment in the 1970s, here the main character, Jamal Khan, is a middle-aged, middle-class man who reveals his deepest secrets.

Jamal is a successful psychoanalyst, struggling with his relationships, his desires and his past. The narrative is in form of his monologue, interchanging between present and memories, starting in Jamal's childhood.

Jamal provides background information about other main characters: his rebel sister, Miriam, his film director friend, Henry, his friends from college times - Val and Wolf, his soon-to-be ex-wife, Josephine, and his son, Rafi, and, most importantly, on his first love, Ajita, who haunts him and is a reason for his introspective. Ajita, a beautiful, but pained daughter of an Indian factory owner, reveals to Jamal her most intimate secrets - and after his intervention disappears from his life. Since then, Jamal dreams of meeting her again, at the same time dreading the thought of the encounter.

Kureishi's prose, although fresh and original, is dense, full of meaning, requiring attention - skimming through some paragraphs can result in losing track and getting discouraged. There are also sometimes sudden jumps of narrative changing focus from one paragraph to another, anchoring on one word, which leads to the reminiscences connected with it; his memories flow exactly like a monologue at the shrink (an interesting, purposefully devised stylistic maneuver).
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This was not an easy read but it has enough depth and detail to warrant the patience required to finish it. This is a novel that feels very autobiographical and as such has a deep sense of longing for that centrist existense that is denied to us through the act of living. If things are going well for the main character Jamal Khan, then count on it becoming upset. Whether it's his past, which is not as far away as he'd hoped, or dealing with the changing standards of his own sexuality as he accepts his middle age, he has a lot on his plate.
Jamal is a psychoanalyst and one of those who runs with the popular, artistic and elite crowd among London's movers and shakers. He's a minor success but also a peripheral inhabitant of these socially elite. His best friend is a playwright and director named Henry. Henry has a reputation for genius in the theater but now sees his career coming to an end and has a serious mid-life crisis.
Through Henry's friendship Jamal has earned a place among London's artistsic and social elite. This gives him the opportunity to have wealthy clients to offset his expenses and exercise his desire to help the poorer ones.
The one thing that gives me pause here is the way Jamal's attitude towards others or himself is both pragmatic and problematic. He sees the logical problems of human consience and emotional desire. He notes how history shapes us. However, there is no idealogy that allows us to move beyond those influences. Acceptance helps but it is not a cure. I actually like this perspective but I think many would see it as an excuse to remaining flawed and revel in it. The character (and author's) take on the myth of what passes for normal was particularly insightful.
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