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”.

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The Narrow Road To The Deep North coverBy virtually all accounts, 2014 was a big year for fiction: new novels by Sarah Waters, Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, Colm Toibin, Howard Jacobson and Ali Smith, with the final two appearing on the Man Booker shortlist; at the end, the prize was won by Tasmanian writer Richard Flanagan in the year that finally allowed American writers into the competition.

There were short-story collections by Hilary Mantel and Rose Tremain, and enormously successful debut novels in the shape of Jessie Burton’s bestselling “The Miniaturist” and Neel Mukherjee’s “The Lives of Others”, which also found favour with the Booker judges.