Hanif Kureishi – England & Pakistan

Linked with our presentation of Freud’s Requiem.

He says: “When I was growing up, the idea of anyone writing about my life, or about people like me, was inconceivable. Asians, and particularly those who had migrated to or grown up in Britain, were a kind of anti-subject matter”. Hanif Kureishi, a literary godfather to a generation of British Asians, has now written a memoir of his own father. Sukhdev Sandhu meets the writer who saved him from adolescent despair. (Read this very long article on the Telegraph).

Hanif Kureishi – England & Pakistan

Excerpt: … Not only is Kureishi very cute, but very open about his relationships with
other men. Many of his books have autobiographical elements. One of my
favorites, “The Buddha of Suburbia” was made into a four hour movie
staring Naveen Andrews (from The English Patient) as the Karim, the
protagonist of the novel who falls in love with his male punk rocker
friend from school. An interesting aside is that Kureishi attended school
in England with a young man named William Broad who later changed his name
to Billy Idol … (Read more about his book: My son, the fanatic).

Excerpt: … His book The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) won the Whitbread Award for the best first novel, and was also made into a BBC television series with a soundtrack by David Bowie. The book Intimacy (1998) created some controversy. The story includes a man leaving his wife and 2 young sons, for he feels physically and emotionally rejected by his wife.

The controversy was not the novel itself, but the fact that the author himself, had just recently left his wife and 2 young sons. In 2000/2001 the novel was loosely adapted to a movie Intimacy by Patrice Chéreau. It’s a tragedy about dreams, which do not come true for the lovers do not want to hurt others, or even break up a family. The movie won two Bears at the Berlin Film Festival, a Golden Bear for Best Film, and a Silver Bear for Best Actress (Kerry Fox). It was controversial for its unreserved sex scenes. The book was translated to Persian by Niki Karimi in 2005. The next controversy was about his drama The Mother adapted to a movie by Roger Michell, which won a joint First Prize in the Director’s Fortnight section at Cannes Film Festival. It showed a cross-generational relationship with changed roles: a seventy-year-old English lady and grandmother (Anne Reid) dares to seduce the boy-friend (Peter Vaughan) of her daughter, a thirty-year-old craftsman. Too permissive sex scenes this time are approached via the arts: shown in realistic drawings only, thus avoiding censorship. (Read more on wikipedia).

See also Hanif Kureishi’s own website.

Excdrpt of an article ‘under western eyes’ from the NYTimes: … As in Hanif Kureishi’s prescient short story from the mid-90’s, “My Son the Fanatic,” Updike’s Ahmad sees Islam as an alternative to a sex-crazed culture. Other characters sympathize with him, albeit in complicated ways. “The crazy Arabs are right,” Ahmad’s high school guidance counselor says while in bed with Ahmad’s mother, with whom he’s having an affair. “Hedonism, nihilism, that’s all we offer. Listen to the lyrics of these rock and rap stars”. (Read more on NYTimes).

Excerpt: … Midnight’s Children was soon joined by some remarkably vigorous fiction. Overnight, it seemed, there was a bright new generation of non-metropolitan writers scattered across the English-speaking world, most of whom had originated far from Barchester: Peter Carey (Australia); Timothy Mo (Hong Kong); Vikram Seth (India); Kazuo Ishiguro (Japan); Hanif Kureishi (Pakistan) and Michael Ondaatje (Sri Lanka) … (Read this very long article on the Guardian).

Bio: 1954 Born in London; 1976 First play, Soaking the Heat, staged at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs. 1979 The King and Me produced at the Soho Poly. 1980 The Mother Country staged in the Riverside Studios’ Plays Umbrella season. 1981 Wins the George Devine Award for Outskirts, presented at the Warehouse at the Soho Poly. Borderline opens at the Royal Court Theatre. 1982 Becomes Writer-in-Residence at the Royal Court. 1983 Birds of Passage opens at Hampstead Theatre. 1984 Adaptation of Mother Courage staged at the Barbican. 1985 Film My Beautiful Laundrette released. Kureishi’s first screenplay, My Beautiful Laundrette is nominated for BAFTA Best Screenplay Award. Wins New York Film Critics Best Screenplay Award and an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay. 1988 Film Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, written by Kureishi released. The screenplay, together with Kureishi’s diary about making the film with director Stephen Frears, has since been published. 1990 The Buddha of Suburbia published. Novel wins the Whitbread Award for the best first novel. 1991 Release of film London Kills Me, written and directed by Kureishi. 1993 Adapts The Buddha of Suburbia for broadcast as 4 part BBC TV Miniseries. 1993 Adaptation of Mother Courage produced as a mobile tour in the UK by the National’s education department. 1995 Second novel The Black Album published. The Faber Book of Pop edited with Jon Savage published. 1997 Collection of short stories, Love in a Blue Time, published. 1998 Film release of My Son the Fanatic, adapted from his short story by Kureishi for film. Third novel Intimacy is published. 1999 Production of his play Sleep with Me at the Royal National Theatre. Second collection of short stories, Midnight All Day published in the UK in November.

He studied philosophy at the University of London, and then supported himself by writing pornography under the pseudonym Antonia French. After a humble beginning as an usher for the Royal Theater, Kureishi later became the theater’s writer in residence. His first play, Soaking Up the Heat, was produced in 1976 at London’s Theater Upstairs. His second play, The Mother Country, won the Thames Television Playwright Award in 1980. His breakthrough came with his first play for the Royal Court Theater, Borderline, about immigrants living in London. This led him to have his work, Outskirts, performed by London’s Royal Shakespeare Company. (Read this long article on english.emory.edu).

Excerpt: … Prominent backers joining in the past week include writers Iain Banks and Hanif Kureishi, Israeli nuclear ‘whistleblower’ Mordechai Vanunu, Labour MP Ian Stewart, Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas and the Lib Dems’ Vince Cable and Michael Moore … (Read this and more on the Guardian).

Excerpt: … Gautam Malkani has been hailed as the newest in a long line of writers of ‘modern multi-cultural Britain’, which includes goes from Hanif Kureishi to more recently Zadie Smith, Hari Kunzru and Monica Ali … (Read more on AIM Magazine).

Excerpt: … Hanif Kureishi is an old, seductive favourite, both in his screenplays and short stories … (Read more with Gabeba Baderoon in ZA-play).


Books Guardian;

contemporarty writers:


My uncle, the Muslim atheist;

Financial Times UK;

Free Radical;

Shillong, Bob Dyilan and Cowboy Boots;

Strange stuff happens;

Fantastic Fiction

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