But modesty of theme proves a good match for Kureishi’s unfussy intelligence and powers of compression. He also shows a gift for maximising the potential of almost any subject. The work reprinted here fulfils Kureishi’s own description of the essay as “an enjoyable, intimate and flexible form”, though the last of those adjectives seems the most apt. It’s fitting that near the beginning of the first item in the book, “Birdy Num-Num”, about the Indian characters portrayed by Peter Sellers in the films The Millionairess and The Party, Kureishi casually refers to having changed his mind twice, first turning against his youthful enjoyment, then deciding there might be something in it after all. Shifting and switching is what he does. You’re never quite sure where his essays will take you.