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  1. Review: Gabriel's Gift by Hanif Kureishi | Books | The Guardian
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Long-suffering Christine has chucked him out, with few obvious regrets: Our souls will soar. You're the ballast in our balloon, mate.

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Postboxes, of course, aren't black, and a string of such miscued images confirms one's suspicions that, at times, Kureishi is an infuriatingly slapdash writer. His dialogue is particularly cloth-eared. Asserting his heterosexuality, Rex asks: Like a student on Pro Plus, Kureishi relies on pure energy to get him through the tricky bits. His plot careers cheerily forward, as Rex is reunited with Lester Jones, a David Bowie figure who "contained the essential ingredients of both tenderness and violence, and was neither boy nor girl, changing himself continuously as he expressed and lost himself in various disguises".

Jones recognises in Gabriel a fellow traveller, and bestows on him the present of an original artwork, instantaneously seized upon by both parents as their ticket out of poverty and obscurity.

Review: Gabriel's Gift by Hanif Kureishi | Books | The Guardian

But for Gabriel it is a precious and inalienable gift, recognition of his talent and a symbolic slice of portable empathy. Its security becomes more desirable than his parents' reconciliation, and in that moment of gifted detachment lies his salvation. Unfortunately, each parent independently has the same idea of presenting the drawing to Speedy, an old friend of theirs who runs a hamburger restaurant full of s memorabilia —a place occasionally even visited by Lester Jones himself—so that the picture can be exhibited there:.

People don't know, or won't say, how much they hate their children. She [Christine] wanted him to be a lawyer.

He was, he reckoned, already sufficiently engaged with the Law. In the next few days his mother would have her forged copy of Lester's picture framed and presented to Speedy, who would have been presented with two forged copies of the same picture by two members of the same family. Gabriel's prison sentence, already long enough, would surely be increased. At Speedy's hamburger joint, a chance meeting with film producer Jake Ambler also fictitious sets off Rex's teaching career.


Looking for someone to give his spoiled teenage son private guitar lessons, Jake offers the job to Rex who, encouraged by Gabriel to do something useful and earn some money at the same time, reluctantly agrees "We're not so desperate that we're going to start working for a living" and eventually, after word of mouth has spread and he is teaching not just one but several kids, quite enjoys being seen as an authority on music by his pupils. Before the truth about Lester Jones's drawing is found out, Gabriel strikes a deal with Speedy, regains possession of the picture in exchange for a painting of Speedy he has to paint himself, and destroys the two copies.


Seeing her ex-partner's reformation, Christine reconsiders her decision to spend the rest of her life without him and does not mind the end of her affair with George, a young artist and a regular at the bar where she is waitressing. Kureishi's rep and the psychedelic jacket should help sell this title, especially in big city stores.

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