The short story “My Son the Fanatic” by Hanif Kureishi was published in 1994 and is probably meant to be read as contemporary to the time of publishing. This is also indicated by references to the computer that Parvez bought for Ali (p. 193, ll. 23-25) and the Sylvester Stallone movie that Parvez is watching with his two friends in the taxi office (p. 194, l. 11).

The events take place over several days in London: “After a few days of constant observation (…)” (p. 195, l. 24); “Parvez looked out of the window as if to check that they were still in London.” (p. 198, l. 16-17).

Physical setting

In “My Son the Fanatic”, the events take place in various locations. In his home, Parvez finds himself looking for clues in Ali’s room, which had begun to look tidier than usual (p. 193, ll. 5-6). Soon, the room becomes almost empty: “the room was practically bare. Even the unhappy walls bore marks where Ali’s pictures had been removed.” (p. 193, ll. 26-28). This is symbolic of the way in which Ali has rejected the elements of Western material culture that he had previously embraced.

At home, Parvez later observes Ali and searches his room again, looking for signs that he is using drugs (p. 195, ll. 16-22). One of the tense discussions between Parvez and Ali also takes place at home: “One night, having ensured there was no alcohol on his breath, Parvez sat down at the kitchen table with Ali.” (p. 200, ll. 2-3).

There are also references to the hall (p. 195, l. 40) and the bathroom (p. 195, l. 3); Ali is later shown praying in his room (p. ...

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