I remember laughing a lot when I saw the films My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, both written by Hanif Kureishi, and I also laughed when I read his novel The Buddha of Suburbia, so I was hungry for more comic vision in his latest novel, Intimacy (Scribner). What I got, however, gripped my guts and my mind with existential torment. At its simplest level, the book is the story of the narrator, Jay, who decides to leave his lover; on another level Kureishi presents a character contemplating Apollonian reason while grappling with Dionysian desire. Should he suffer the slings and arrows of an inert relationship and remain with the mother of his two young sons, or leave her and bravely strive for intimacy in relationships yet to be discovered? Kureishi works over Jay's sense of self, big-time, in just 118 pages. For Jay, responsibility is not bound to conventional life but is realized in "individualism, sensualism and in creative idleness." Such values may be too easily ignored in the bustle of family life, where bland pragmatism and expediency often dictate daily life. Or is the tragedy in modern urban life centred in the eruption of conventional values and the ensuing "broken side of things"? Jay is not naive about the consequences of deserting his family, nor is he a paragon of wisdom. He chooses to rekindle his senses and his soul, come what may. As I read his story I found myself re-examining my own grasp of responsibility, love and intimacy. Read this one at your own risk.