Working in academia helps many writers in this regard, and Kureishi is no exception, holding a professorship in creative writing at Kingston University London. One can imagine, then, the reaction when in 2014, he told an audience at the Bath Literature Festival that he believed creative writing courses were a “waste of time”. Is this still his view?
“Yes and no. I think they’re a waste of time in that they confer an academic credibility on something that’s much more like rock and roll, more spontaneous and less conventional. On the other hand, I’d value the relationship between the teacher and the writer, the teacher and the student, so I’d never dismiss that. I’ve had people in my life — writers, editors, directors — who’ve taught me a great deal so I wouldn’t discount that but I wouldn’t necessarily put it in an academic context.
“But I’m a professor in a university myself and it’s part of how we make a living as writers. Also some of the students are really good, but in my lifetime the university system has become a bit of a supermarket, it’s about extracting money from students rather than giving them value. I deplore that and I think many teachers feel we’re just screwing the students. My kids have university fees of £9,000 and they’re in debt, having left university, to the tune of almost £40,000.”