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.
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.
Immigration has become a prison of cliche in Europe: The Guardian
The immigrant has become a contemporary passion in Europe, the vacant point around which ideals clash. Easily available as a token, existing everywhere and nowhere, he is talked about constantly. But in the current public conversation, this figure has not only migrated from one country to another, he has migrated from reality to the collective imagination where he has been transformed into a terrible fiction.
Asia House has partnered with the Bagri Foundation to create 2014’s Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival. Seeing key speakers, journalists and award-winning authors, the festival celebrates the cultural works and contributions of the Pan Asian community.
From notable discussions and talks, audiences and avid literary fans will have the opportunity to learn more about the vibrant and colourful world of pan-Asian Literature and its specific cultural significances.
Kureishi’s art stands renewed in this novel, and his language retains its vigour: The Outlook
Mamoon 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.
The wisdom of The Last Word by Hanif Kureishi is not a single strand of thought. Rather, it tries to unflinchingly recognise the past and the present as an organic continuation through the politics of biography, the process of shared introspection and a reminiscence of the good old days. This is Kureishi’s first novel in six years and is an extended musing on an artist’s undoing — dependencies, demons and all.
Although it is not a triumph, it contains inspired moments of black humour and some nod-worthy aphorisms that are Kureishi’s trademark. It loses out completely on basic writing devices, such as characters that are dull or annoyingly incongruous and dialogues that make the reader cringe. Instead of a cohesive background, the novel focuses on the dark side of lovemaking addiction, glorified in the artist’s livery.
Last week Hanif Kureishi dismissed creative writing courses as ‘a waste of time’, yet they have never been more popular. Other leading author-teachers reveal their advice to students: The Guardian
Good writing is a mixture of the calculated and the instinctual. No one writes through pure dazed inspiration; questions of craft and calculation enter in quite quickly. Last week, speaking at the Bath festival, Hanif Kureishi cast some doubt on the existence of transferable, teachable craft in writing by witheringly classifying 99.9% of his students as “untalented” and saying that writing a story is “a difficult thing to do and it’s a great skill to have. Can you teach that? I don’t think you can.” (Kureishi teaches creative writing at Kingston University, apparently ineffectually).
The end seems nigh for one of the great literary feuds: The Guardian Hats off to VS Naipaul […]
Prize winning novelists Hanif Kureishi, Kamila Shamsie, Tash Aw and Romesh Gunesekera, award-winning BBC journalist John Sweeney, plus debates on North Korea, Tiananmen 25 years on and changing sexual mores across Asia, line-up alongside an evening of British Asian humour, Vietnamese cookery at lunchtime and interactive events for families.