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The Nothing by Hanif Kureishi, book review: Bombastic theatrical style over substance

By Lucy Scholes

nothingA Hanif Kureishi novel with an elderly, incapacitated and impotent protagonist, there’s something I never thought I’d read, but here he is. Waldo was a once celebrated film director, who used to run with the great and the good, his now defunct study a shrine to his illustrious life and career: Baftas, “birthday cards from Bowie and Iman,” a photo with Joe Strummer. Vanished is his “fuckability,” that “ass you’d pay to bite”; these days he’s not so much a shell of the man he once was, but rather the bloated carcass. Obese, weak and riddled with illness – “diabetes, prostate cancer, an ulcer, early MS, constipation, diarrhea and only one good hip, a cough, phobias, addictions, obsessions and hypochondria” – he’s bed- or wheelchair-bound: Rear Window’s L. B. Jefferies played by a late career Marlon Brando.

Spying on his neighbours passes the time – “I sit here like a large fly at the windowpane, investigating fantastic lands across the way” – but the object of his obsession is his wife, Zee. She’s twenty-two years younger, and the only woman he’s ever truly loved, the “one whose body I enjoyed more than any other,” (including those “magical fucks” of his LSD-tinged, California commune days with the “live-in lesbians”). Now, however, Waldo suspects she’s making a cuckold of him with his sort-of friend Eddie: a freeloading throwback from old Soho, a “dirty-minded raconteur” who’s a sucker for celebrities, “his voice smoky with public-school corruption and changing-room decadence.” Read more

Source: independent.co.uk

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Writer Hanif Kureishi gives his views on Brexit, the writing process and navigating life

Hanif KureishiWorking 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.”

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Hanif Kureishi: ‘I had to write about the theft — it was all that was left to me’

Being robbed of his life savings and falling in love seem to have mellowed author Hanif Kureishi, he tells Katie Law: London Evening Standard

Hanif KureishiIt’s been three years since Hanif Kureishi was robbed of £120,000 by his accountant, Adam Woricker, and he remains traumatised. “It’s as if you’re walking down the street and someone decides to hit you over the head with a hammer,” the author says. “There’s nothing you can do.”

Woricker, “a small, chubby fellow with a high voice” who worked for the “highly respectable” firm of London chartered accountants Fisher Phillips, was sacked, arrested and eventually jailed last July for eight years for forging signatures and stealing £1.6 million.

Kureishi, it turned out, had not been his only victim: Woricker had stolen money from his church, from charities and even the life savings of an old school friend, mostly to impress his Albanian girlfriend.

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‘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. Continue reading


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Video: How losing his life savings inspired Kureishi’s new novel

Hanif KureishiHanif Kureishi has won a huge number of awards in his career, and was Oscar nominated for his screen writing.

From his dazzling early success with My Beautiful Laundrette, to the novel the Buddha of Suburbia, Kureishi has offered a distinctive view of the issues of class, sexuality and religion.

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Sex a ‘political issue’ at the Jaipur literature festival

Sarah Waters, Nicholson Baker, Deepti Kapoor and Hanif Kureishi discuss contemporary writers’ struggles with sex, and radical Islam’s obsession with pleasure: The Guardian

Hanif KureishiThe distortion of sex, particularly in the Muslim world, is “a political issue” which is one of the most important challenges facing writers today, Hanif Kureishi told a packed audience at the Jaipur literature festival on Friday.

Speaking alongside novelists Nicholson Baker, Sarah Waters and Deepti Kapoor in a session titled “Basic instinct”, he argued radical Islam thinks about pleasure “all the time … but it thinks about it from a negative perspective”. Continue reading


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Morality tale suffers for not being fiction: review of A Theft: My Con Man by Hanif Kureishi

Hanif KureishiHanif Kureishi was cheated out of £120,000 of life savings in 2012 by a partner at an accountancy firm. The alleged investment fraud was announced in news reports last year to add to those stories of famous folk – the John Malkoviches and other Ponzi Scheme victims – duped out of what they have.

Celebrities have usually kept quiet afterwards, so Kureishi’s story of his swindling by the man who is here called Jeff Chandler is an unlikely –perhaps brave – subject for a book.

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Kureishi wins at Asian Achievers Awards

Hanif KureishiNovelist Hanif Kureishi has won the accolade for achievement in media, arts and culture at the Asian Achievers’ Awards.

The awards, which celebrate individuals who have inspired communities and achieved outstanding accomplishments in their respective fields, were held on Friday (19th September) at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Continue reading


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VS Naipaul, Eleanor Catton to attend Jaipur lit fest

NaipaulNobel laureate VS Naipaul, 2013 Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, novelist Hanif Kureishi and current Man Booker Prize nominee Neel Mukherjee are some of the authors scheduled to attend the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival 2015 here early next year, a statement said Wednesday. Continue reading


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East is East: Bangladeshi writing in English joins a global conversation

Tahmima Anam

Tahmima Anam

WHO SPEAKS, and who is being spoken for, have always been loaded questions for postcolonial novelists. If a nation is, at least in part, imagined into being through feats of storytelling, the storyteller acquires a kind of authority over the soul, such as it is, of the nation. For a certain kind of postcolonial novelist—say, VS Naipaul—the novel must remain an unfinished business: the protagonist cannot develop beyond a certain point; he is stunted and half-formed, like his nation. For another kind of postcolonial novelist—say Hanif Kureishi—it is the former imperial centre that seems half-formed; no longer cocksure, forced to cede ground to the immigrant, or at least to the immigrant’s children, to reconcile itself to a new order. For Naipaul’s failed nationalists and doomed Third World intellectuals, emigration and self-exile is necessary penance; for Kureishi’s first generation Londoners, the baggage of their parents’ histories, the baggage of the ‘home’ country has to be sloughed off so that a new kind of English person can be created. Continue reading