"It is the saddest night, for I am leaving and not coming back."...Thus begins 'Intimacy' by Hanif Kureishi which tells the story of Jay, a middle aged writer who is about to leave his partner of 10 years, Susan and their two sons and going to live temporarily with his friend Victor. The novel describes the state of Jay's mind the night before he decides to leave his family for good. Jay tries to justify his decision and also reflects his life with Susan and the sons. The small details of his family and his likes and dislikes towards its members gets zeroed in on this narrative. The book depicts the restlessness of Jay's mind as he reasons his longings, complains about what he did not get out of that life which he is about to leave and endeavors to hold on to what is very dear to him, as for example his relation with his two sons.The night before he will leave his house, Jay reflects on the change that underwent in his relationship with Susan, over the course of time, accepts his misgivings and tries to imagine the life his family will have after he is gone.
The story flashes back and forth in time as Jay remembers the time he spent with his parents, how he used to look upon his father and the way his mother's indifference affected him. Jay also remembers about his friends, their relationship with the spouses, the lovers he had, especially Nina, a girl much younger to him. His leaving the family sometimes suggests his wish to be with Nina and sometimes that very reason fades away in the protagonist's denial. In 'Intimacy', the author portrays a certain aspect of human life, where uncertainty attempt to paralyze our spirit, age to restrict the risk-takings but the mind compels to break-free and savor the fantasies.
The language of the novel is crisp, bearing a nonchalance of speaking to our own selves. The decisions and the states of Jay's mind described are very honest and unapologetic. The novel is written in the voice of the protagonist and the reader sees his world through his eyes.
The book catches my attention because of the situation it is in and the ways that emerge. It does not talk about idealism and is not reluctant about it. The book delves on very human problems, wishes and desperation which are very crudely humane. The only thing that does leave a gap is that the characters remains as Jay's version of them only. They express themselves very little through dialogues and incidents which are their own and are not observed or judged by the protagonist.
My favorite quote from the book: "Nothing is as fascinating as love, unfortunately".