The Buddha of Suburbia

by

Hanif Kureishi

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Eva is, at first, an upper-middle class social climber. She is very interested in what Karim reads and she wears colorful clothing. Mum finds Eva distasteful and Karim can't quite tell if he agrees with Mum or not, but he thinks that Eva is the only person over 30 he can talk to. Eva and Dad begin a relationship when Eva hosts Dad's "appearances" at her home. Eventually, Dad moves in with Eva, and he and Mum divorce. Karim does his best to stay in Eva's good graces. Once Eva and Dad live together, it becomes obvious that Eva has particular ideas about money and how it should be spent. She spends money on things she wants without considering if she can afford them, which bothers Karim. Eva continues to host lavish parties with other social climbers. To move up the social ladder, Eva begins renovating houses, starting with her own, and she employs Ted to help her. She and Ted begin renovating other people's flats as Eva gradually climbs up the social ladder and makes connections with directors, actors, and designers. As Karim also rises up the social ranks, he learns that the kind of class that Eva craves isn't something she'll ever be able to manufacture, as it's something the upper classes are born with. Eva remains jealous of Mum and becomes very angry with Dad whenever she notices that he seems regretful that he left Mum. Throughout her climb, Eva remains devoted to her son, Charlie. When he begins stealing from her to pay for drugs and food, she pretends to not notice. She attends many of his shows and some of her social success comes from being his mother--many magazines want to interview her about Charlie. At the end of the novel, she and Dad announce that they're getting married after almost a decade together.

Eva Quotes in The Buddha of Suburbia

The The Buddha of Suburbia quotes below are all either spoken by Eva or refer to Eva. 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 1 Quotes

I put my ear against the white paintwork of the door. Yes, God was talking to himself, but not intimately. He was speaking slowly, in a deeper voice than usual, as if he were addressing a crowd. He was hissing his s's and exaggerating his Indian accent. He'd spent years trying to be more of an Englishman, to be less risibly conspicuous, and now he was putting it back in spadeloads. Why?

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Haroon (Dad), Eva
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 8 Quotes

Watching this, I was developing my own angry theories of love. Surely love had to be something more generous than this high-spirited egotism-à-deux? In their hands love seemed a narrow-eyed, exclusive, selfish bastard, to enjoy itself at the expense of a woman who now lay in bed in Auntie Jean's house, her life unconsidered. Mum's wretchedness was the price Dad had chosen to pay for his happiness. How could he have done it?

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Haroon (Dad), Eva, Mum
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 9 Quotes

...I saw she wanted to scour that suburban stigma right off her body. She didn't realize it was in the blood and not on the skin; she didn't see that there could be nothing more suburban than suburbanites repudiating themselves.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Eva
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 10 Quotes

It was a wonderful trick and disguise. The one flaw, I giggled to myself, was his milky and healthy white teeth, which, to me, betrayed everything else.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Eva, Charlie
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 11 Quotes

Eleanor's set, with their combination of class, culture and money, and their indifference to all three, was exactly the cocktail that intoxicated Eva's soul, but she could never get near it. This was unforced bohemia; this was what she sought; this was the apogee.

Related Characters: Karim (speaker), Eva, Eleanor
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 18 Quotes

"We have to empower ourselves. Look at those people who live on sordid housing estates. They expect others—the Government—to do everything for them. They are only half human, because only half active. We have to find a way to enable them to grow. Individual human flourishing isn't something that either socialism or conservatism caters for."

Related Characters: Eva (speaker), Karim, Haroon (Dad)
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Buddha of Suburbia LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Buddha of Suburbia PDF

Eva Character Timeline in The Buddha of Suburbia

The timeline below shows where the character Eva appears in The Buddha of Suburbia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Racism, Success, and Identity Theme Icon
...Kay's party that night, but Mum refuses. She insists that she's not Indian enough for Eva Kay, and Dad jokes that she could wear a sari. Mum doesn't laugh. Dad continues... (full context)
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Karim offers to go with Dad to Eva's, trying his best to sound like he'd be doing Dad a favor. Dad thinks for... (full context)
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Karim guides Dad the four miles on the bus to Eva's house and explains to the reader that Dad acts like a new immigrant to London,... (full context)
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Dad confides in Karim that he's scared for his speaking engagement. When they arrive at Eva's, Karim notes that Eva is better off than his family: she has a car and... (full context)
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Karim feels he's being watched and looks up the stairs to see Charlie, Eva's son, sitting at the top. He explains that both men and women find Charlie overwhelmingly... (full context)
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Karim explains that Mum finds Eva horrible, but that he thinks she's the only adult he can talk to. He says... (full context)
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Back in Eva's living room, Karim takes in the scene: the floor is clear and on it sit... (full context)
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...one of the men, Charlie leads him upstairs. As they head out of the room, Eva dims the lights, bows to Dad, and tells the group that Dad will show them... (full context)
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...door. Karim gets on his knees and crawls across the patio until he can see Eva on a garden bench, pulling off her caftan. Karim can see that Eva only has... (full context)
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...head poking through the trapdoor. Charlie zips his pants back up as both Dad and Eva enter the attic. Eva reprimands them for smoking and says it's time to go home.... (full context)
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..."the Great Sulk," he opens up Mum's sketchpad. He finds a drawing of Dad and Eva, naked. Eva is drawn slightly larger than Dad, and Karim wonders how Mum knows what... (full context)
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Karim thinks that it would be interesting if Eva called the house, as it would test Dad's silence. When the phone rings, Karim makes... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2
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...his "China-things," so he'd accompany Dad to the bus in the morning. Karim thinks that Eva was the first person that Dad was able to truly share his love of Eastern... (full context)
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...door, and Karim finds this absurd given that they work at a TV rental firm. Eva descends upon Dad and Karim and presses books into Karim's hands. As Dad begins to... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
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...of people in terms of power and money and are certainly not interested in India. Eva snaps irritably at Ted and Jean to sit down and join the group. They slowly... (full context)
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...the end of Dad's appearance. Jean greets Karim curtly, and together they watch Dad and Eva talk to attendees. Karim and Helen exchange phone numbers, and Karim watches Charlie try to... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
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Karim realizes that Eva is in his life to stay. He feels as though she's there while Mum and... (full context)
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...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 experience with the Great Dane. When Karim asks Jamila... (full context)
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...the things he's seeing people do all of their own accords—Ted's breakdown, Dad's relationship with Eva, and now Anwar's hunger strike—things that had nothing to do with outside circumstances. Karim feels... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
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...feels fed up with everything. Karim thinks of what Jamila might do. He thinks that Eva is the only objective person he could talk to about this, but he reasons that... (full context)
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...from a public phone. When Dad hangs up, he notices Karim approaching. Karim asks after Eva, and Dad affirms he was talking to her. Karim asks if Dad is in love... (full context)
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Dad confides that Eva is seeing other men, specifically Shadwell, whom she believes is going to be a wildly... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
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Outside, Dad tells Karim to get into Eva's car. Karim tries to refuse, but Dad insists. Karim says goodbye to Helen and gets... (full context)
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When they get to Eva's house, Eva sends Karim upstairs to see Charlie. Karim is annoyed, but he sees Eva... (full context)
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...into his drum kit. Karim pretends like he's not hurt. Downstairs a few minutes later, Eva wipes Karim's forehead as Charlie and Dad sit on the couch. Dad begins to explain... (full context)
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...to call Auntie Jean. He tells her only that Dad has decided to live with Eva. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
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...throwing things in a plastic bag, but eventually decides to leave everything. Soon, Dad calls Eva, and she arrives to pick them up. Karim feels pressured into saying that he'll stay... (full context)
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Eva settles Karim in her spare bedroom. Late that night she comes in with a book... (full context)
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...about the difference between interesting people and nice people. He thinks the interesting people, like Eva, make you see things differently. Nice people, like Mum, deserve love, but people like Eva... (full context)
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Karim begins splitting his time between Eva's house, his parents' empty house, and Changez and Jamila's flat. He drops out of school... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8
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...divorce to study. After their fight, Dad ignores Karim, though Karim remains at Dad and Eva's house so he can avoid Changez. He doesn't understand why Dad takes his failing so... (full context)
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One day, Karim opens the door to Ted, tools in hand. Eva had heard from Dad that Ted was a builder, and made him an offer to... (full context)
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...how Ted talks about all the fun they have and the romance between Dad and Eva. He says that they often don't get to see too much of the romance as... (full context)
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Karim watches the romance between Dad and Eva grow. When he watches them speak, he realizes the words themselves don't matter; they're just... (full context)
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Eva decides to sell her house and move to London, and Karim suspects she wants to... (full context)
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...they discuss that Charlie's problem is that his band doesn't have an original sound. Though Eva insists that Charlie is pure talent, Karim believes that Charlie only has potential—his music is... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
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Eva purchases a flat in West Kensington. It has three rooms and high ceilings, but it's... (full context)
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...neighborhood where people stay for a while before they move up to expensive Kensington proper. Eva finds West Kensington exciting and believes it's headed for greatness. (full context)
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Several days later, Eva announces that it's time to start work on the flat, but she needs to throw... (full context)
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Eva butts into Karim's conversation, yanks him off the sofa, and steers him towards Shadwell. Karim... (full context)
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Karim prepares a monologue over the next few weeks with Eva's help. On the day of his audition, he performs brilliantly, but Shadwell doesn't seem particularly... (full context)
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...Shadwell takes Karim for coffee and offers him "the part." It comes to light that Eva never told Karim to read The Jungle Book, which Shadwell had asked her to do.... (full context)
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...is difficult. Karim is beyond embarrassed and can barely listen as Shadwell asks Karim how Eva and Dad's relationship is going. Karim tries to steer the conversation back to The Jungle... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
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When rehearsals begin, Karim moves back in with Dad and Eva. He loves the hard work of acting, and explains that Shadwell wants a very physical,... (full context)
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Karim doesn't spend much time at home, but he notices that Eva isn't as interested in Indian culture as she once was. Rather, Eva is launching her... (full context)
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One night, Karim comes home to find Charlie in Eva and Dad's bedroom, dressed in black and safety pins. He has a swastika painted on... (full context)
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...look is manufactured. When the club descends into a riot, The Fish gets Karim and Eva out. Karim and Eva walk through the streets, and Karim realizes that he can control... (full context)
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...pride. They go dancing afterwards and Karim is thrilled at Mum's happiness. Karim invites Dad, Eva, Jamila, and Changez to the opening night, and nobody looks happy afterwards. Dad informs Karim... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11
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...that Eleanor's friends possess a particular combination of class, culture, and money. He realizes that Eva wants to achieve this kind of class, but he believes she'll never get there. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
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...though his life is getting extremely weird, and decides to consult others on his situation. Eva is thrilled to hear that Pyke invited Karim to supper, though Karim leaves out telling... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
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During a break in rehearsal, Karim begins working for Eva, clearing the debris in her flat. Eleanor asks Karim if she can share the job.... (full context)
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After Karim and Eleanor finish work for Eva, Karim goes to spend some time with Jeeta and Jamila. He finds Anwar in a... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 15
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...talking. He thinks that they look old and, for the first time, like real people. Eva approaches Karim and praises the play, but she seems distraught that Dad is talking to... (full context)
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...through. Karim insists it's just a job as Mum goes on to insult Dad and Eva. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18
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Karim visits Dad and Eva to share his news. He dresses in a cashmere sweater and corduroy pants, and he... (full context)
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Eva is confused when she finds Karim and the other two people on her doorstep at... (full context)
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Eva and Karim enter the living room, and Dad gets up to embrace Karim. Dad is... (full context)
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The photographer moves furniture around and photographs Eva in unnatural poses. The woman asks Eva about her philosophy on life. Eva looks to... (full context)
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...how Dad used to be pompous all the time and thinks he likes listening to Eva dominate the conversation. The woman asks Dad if he'd like to respond to Eva's thoughts... (full context)
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...he doesn't know why. He asks the photographer if he'd like to photograph himself and Eva, but the photographer and the woman leave quickly. Ted is glad to see Karim, and... (full context)
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Ted enthusiastically tells Karim that he loves his work and that Eva saved him. Karim reminds Ted that Dad saved him, but Ted continues and asks Karim... (full context)
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...it's horrible that now that Dad is quitting his job, they'll all become dependent on Eva. Karim tries to cut him off but Allie continues to rant about Dad. Karim finally... (full context)
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...is doing well and seeing a man. Dad asks question after question, and Karim notices Eva standing behind Dad and listening. Karim describes Jimmy, and confirms when Dad asks if Mum... (full context)
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That night, Karim takes Dad, Eva, Allie, and Allie's girlfriend out to dinner to celebrate his new job. He also invites... (full context)
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...enjoys being able to be generous and please others with money. When everyone is drunk, Eva stands and asks for attention. Dad smiles at everyone, and Eva seems nervous to make... (full context)