The Buddha of Suburbia

by

Hanif Kureishi

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Anwar came to London in the 1950s from India with his best friend Haroon to attend college. After marrying Jeeta he opened a toy store, which she soon convinced him to turn into a grocery store. The grocery became extremely successful. Anwar is a shrewd man who loves sitting on a stool and watching for shoplifters. He loves his daughter, Jamila, though he mostly ignores her interest in black theory, feminist theory, and the like. Though Karim notes that Anwar never expressed any interest in returning to India or even conducting his life in an overtly Muslim way, he makes a sudden shift towards conservatism when he decides it's time for Jamila to enter into an arranged marriage. He goes on a hunger strike, which lasts for weeks, until she agrees. After Jamila's marriage, Anwar is extremely disappointed in her husband, Changez, who came highly recommended from a cousin in Bombay: Changez is fat, has only one working arm, and has no interest in running his father-in-law's store. Anwar is also incensed when it becomes apparent that Changez and Jamila won't provide him with a grandson. After his hunger strike, Anwar never fully recovers. He uses a cane and remains very thin and weak. He also becomes extremely conservative and begins talking about returning to India, though he never goes. Anwar dies in the hospital of a heart attack, though he ends up in the hospital after Changez hits him over the head with a dildo defending himself from one of Anwar's attacks.

Anwar Quotes in The Buddha of Suburbia

The The Buddha of Suburbia quotes below are all either spoken by Anwar or refer to Anwar. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Buddha of Suburbia published in 1991.
Part 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

"The whites will never promote us," Dad said. "Not an Indian while there is a white man left on the earth. You don't have to deal with them—they still think they have an Empire when they don't have two pennies to rub together."

Related Characters: Haroon (Dad) (speaker), Karim, Anwar
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 4 Quotes

"Families aren't sacred, especially to Indian men, who talk about nothing else and act otherwise."

Related Characters: Jamila (speaker), Karim, Haroon (Dad), Anwar
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

The lives of Anwar and Jeeta and Jamila were pervaded by fear of violence...Jeeta kept buckets of water around her bed in case the shop was firebombed in the night. Many of Jamila's attitudes were inspired by the possibility that a white group might kill one of us one day.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Jamila, Anwar, Princess Jeeta
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 7 Quotes

"That bastard, what does he think I am, his servant? I'm not a shopkeeper. Business isn't my best side, yaar, not my best. I'm the intellectual type, not one of those uneducated immigrant types who come here to slave all day and night and look dirty."

Related Characters: Changez (speaker), Karim, Anwar
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 11 Quotes

But as the days passed I watched Jeeta's progress. She certainly didn't want to go home. It was as if Jamila had educated her in possibility, the child being an example to the parent.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Jamila, Anwar, Princess Jeeta
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 14 Quotes

But I did feel, looking at these strange creatures now—the Indians—that in some way these were my people, and that I'd spent my life denying or avoiding that fact. I felt ashamed and incomplete at the same time, as if half of me were missing, and as if I'd been colluding with my enemies, those whites who wanted Indians to be like them.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Haroon (Dad), Anwar
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Buddha of Suburbia LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Buddha of Suburbia PDF

Anwar Character Timeline in The Buddha of Suburbia

The timeline below shows where the character Anwar appears in The Buddha of Suburbia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 2
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...to be in England. Dad grew up in Bombay next door to his best friend, Anwar. They played cricket and had servants, and their Hindu neighbors chanted obscenities outside their houses.... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
While Anwar studied aeronautical engineering, Dad purchased bowties and waistcoats and spent his time in the pub... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...discovered Eastern philosophy and fell in love with it. When Karim's family visited Jeeta and Anwar on Sundays, Anwar teased Dad mercilessly about it. Both Anwar and Mum treated Dad as... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Anwar would tell Dad to get a promotion, but Dad insisted that the white Londoners would... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...fear that Mum and Dad will murder each other. The following Saturday, he bikes to Anwar and Jeeta's shop to escape. Karim peers through the window and doesn't see Anwar, which... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Jeeta asks him to take Jamila on a walk and won't answer his questions about Anwar's whereabouts. Karim tells Jamila all about Dad and Eva, but he purposefully doesn't mention his... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...groups, and Jeeta keeps buckets of water in case the shop is firebombed at night. Anwar didn't like Jamila attending classes and secretly decided it was time Jamila get married. He... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Anwar consulted Dad about the strange dowry, and Dad insisted that Anwar investigate the boy. Anwar... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...something horrible as he climbs the stairs. When he finally enters the flat, he sees Anwar sitting on a bed in the living room, looking thin and very ill.  A pot... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Karim affirms Jamila's assessment, but Anwar angrily says that he can get his family to obey him by not eating, the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Karim wonders why Anwar is literally staking his life on Muslim beliefs, when he's never seemed very Muslim. Karim... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...and sees Jamila hurrying towards them. Karim fills Helen in on what's going on with Anwar. Jamila adds that nothing is getting better. The three sit in a bus stop and... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...name is Changez, and he's a very short and fat man. Helen drives them to Anwar's store in Hairy Back's car. When they arrive, a weak and pale Anwar pinches his... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Changez don't look at each other, and even Helen is unusually subdued. Karim thinks that Anwar doesn't know anything about his own daughter. The party picks up when some of Anwar's... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...minutes and Karim finds Changez kind and innocently enthusiastic. Jamila reprimands Karim for this when Anwar takes Changez to talk about the shop. (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Dad arrives at the party, dressed colorfully and looking exceptionally young next to Anwar. Helen asks Karim if they can leave and soon, she, Karim, and Dad leave. Helen... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Before Changez's "sex trouble" truly begins, he starts having trouble with Anwar. Anwar had started Changez working the till at the grocery store, but Changez was purposefully... (full context)
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Karim explains that having children is extremely important to Changez. Recently, Anwar had asked Changez if Jamila was expecting his grandson and when Changez was silent, Anwar... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...Shinko that afternoon. Karim insists that Jamila doesn't care where Changez goes. He mentions that Anwar is going to send a letter to Changez's relatives saying that he's fat and lazy,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...the two embarrass Changez by talking about sex in front of him. Changez says that Anwar is also going mad. When Karim seems surprised, Changez wisely says that Karim doesn't visit... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...talk about rehearsals, but she isn't impressed. She suggests that bad things are happening at Anwar's store, but insists that Karim is too self-absorbed to care. (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...choosing to portray Charlie, insisting that the play needs somebody black. Karim decides to portray Anwar and bikes to the shop to see him. The store looks grubby and sad, and... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
Karim goes up to Anwar in the flat and finds him in pajamas watching TV. Anwar looks emaciated. Over the... (full context)
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...the cast present their characters for the rest of the group. After Karim performs his Anwar character, he feels for the first time as though he's on par with the rest... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...work for Eva, Karim goes to spend some time with Jeeta and Jamila. He finds Anwar in a sorry state: he smokes, drinks, and doesn't work. Neither Jeeta nor Jamila expresses... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
One day, as Anwar returns from the mosque, he recognizes Changez walking with Shinko. Changez and Shinko had been... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Karim and Jamila spend every day with Anwar, but Dad refuses to go. He and Anwar had fallen out after he left Mum,... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...last. Later that night, Changez, Jamila, and Karim drink beer in Jeeta's flat. Karim considers Anwar and Jamila's relationship: she'd gone from a child to an uncooperative woman overnight, and they... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 15
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Class Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...Changez has had a haircut and seems exceptionally happy, now that the assault case against Anwar has been dropped. When Changez offers to run to the store, Karim asks Simon and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
Social and Political Discontent Theme Icon
...the horrors of prejudice against every type of person but ugly people. Jamila insists that Anwar forced her into marriage and says that Changez isn't ugly on the inside. Changez yells... (full context)