January 19, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Tabish Khair reviews Hanif Kureishi’s The Last Word

1 min read

Kureishi’s art stands renewed in this novel, and his language retains its vigour: The Outlook

The-Last-WordMamoon is an ageing literary legend, born in India, pushed by his father to get the best education in England, where he settled down, and became more Eng­lish than the English. He has been acclaimed for decades for his brilliant art and incisive political commentary, which, incidentally, seem to be full of the sort of dismissive conservatism that few white English writers would dare express anymore. Harry is a promiscuous young writer, white and English, brought up in metropolitan, multicultural London by left-leaning parents. When Harry is commissioned by Rob, an eccentric publisher, to write the official biography of Mamoon, he finds himself in a country cottage, faced by ghosts from his and Mamoon’s past, Mamoon’s socially ambitious second wife, and the great writer himself, whose literary brilliance has been matched by a genius for bruta­lly running down other people.

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