‘Love + Hate: Stories and Essays’, by Hanif Kureishi

The author celebrates creativity in this collection — but knows that fantasy can be dangerous: FT

Hanif KureishiHanif Kureishi’s first essay in Love + Hate, “Anarchy and the Imagination”, was originally published in 2014 as “What they don’t teach you at creative writing school”, two months before Kureishi appeared at Bath Literature Festival and outraged “talentless” creative writing students by declaring such courses to be a “waste of time”. His role as their teacher was “part-mentor, part-therapist”. More interesting than the provocation and predictable uproar was his contention that a focus on the texture of sentences distracted students from thinking about how to entertain a reader with story and imaginative ideas.

The teachers needn’t have been offended by being compared to therapists; Kureishi holds the therapy profession in great esteem, particularly when it is Freudian. His conception of fiction in these essays and stories is the waking dream, and writers such as Kafka, Mary Shelley and Oscar Wilde his models: he prioritises “the wild implausibility, boldness and brilliance of the artist’s idea or metaphor rather than the arrangement of paragraphs”.

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