Kureishi, Hanif

  Poetry & Prose    Books / People

Hanif Kureishi

From The New York Times Magazine, a profile of Kureishi by: Rachel Donadio.

One of the most revealing insights into Britain’s recent social history comes early in “My Son the Fanatic,” Hanif Kureishi’s tender and darkly prescient 1997 film. It’s morning in an unnamed city in northern England, and Parvez, a secular Pakistani immigrant taxi driver brilliantly portrayed by Om Puri, watches Farid, his increasingly devout college-age son, sell his electric guitar. “Where is that going?” Parvez asks Farid as the buyer drives off. “You used to love making a terrible noise with these instruments!” Farid, played by Akbar Kurtha, looks at his father with irritation. “You always said there were more important things than ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ ” he says impatiently in his thick northern English accent. “You couldn’t have been more right.”
 
This seemingly casual exchange cuts to the heart of almost everything that has animated Kureishi in nearly three decades as a playwright, screenwriter, novelist and essayist. This is, after all, the man who co-edited “The Faber Book of Pop” and whose films and novels—including “My Beautiful Laundrette” and “The Buddha of Suburbia”—are filled with raucous sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. But this is also the man who had the presence of mind to poke around in English mosques in the late ’80s and early ’90s, sensing that something might be stirring there, as indeed it was. Kureishi’s novel “The Black Album,” set in 1989 and named after a Prince album, explored the growing discontent, disenfranchisement and radicalism of some young British Muslims. Not so many people were paying attention back in 1995, when it first appeared, but 10 years later, when bombings rocked central London on July 7, the collective consciousness had begun to catch up.
 
— My Beautiful London, Aug. 8, 2008.

The connections; the causalities

The Buddha of Suburbia, coming so soon after My Beautiful Laundrette, put Kureishi in a unique position. He was both a popular bestseller and critically acclaimed. He had made those links between Bombay and Bromley, reconciling the one to the other. Within British culture, he was both an icon of multiculturalism and its gadfly, especially to the rising generation of new Britons. Zadie Smith remembers her first reading of The Buddha of Suburbia, aged 15: “There was one copy going round our school like contraband. I read it in one sitting in the playground and missed all my classes. I’d never read a book about anyone remotely like me before.”

The public phase of Kureishi’s quest for meaning and identity was over. Indeed, it would be Zadie Smith in White Teeth who would make the significant creative advance on to the new ground broken by The Buddha of Suburbia. Kureishi was personally rich (“a little overwhelmed at the number of cheques that turned up at my council flat”), but the well of his imagination was depleted. Or, to put it another way, he had possibly expended so much creative energy in achieving the literary synthesis so dazzlingly displayed in Laundrette and The Buddha of Suburbia that there was no more fuel in his tank. Creatively, he had made a unique statement, based on a profound interrogation of himself. Like many literary pioneers, he could break out of the matrix of his imagination only with the greatest difficulty.


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BOOKS OF FICTION NON-FICTION BOOKS .
Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986) was a French writer, philosopher and political activist. She is known for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism.
The Second Sex
1984
1984
Delta of Venus
Delta of Venus
A Room of one's own
A Room of One’s Own
War and Peace is the 1869 novel by Russian author Leo Tolstoy. It is regarded as a classic of world literature. (The novel chronicles the French invasion of Russia and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society through the stories of five Russian aristocratic families.) Tolstoy said War and Peace is "not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle." Tolstoy regarded Anna Karenina as his first true novel.
War and Peace
The Trial, by Franz Kafka (1914 [1925]) -- A terrifying psychological trip into the life of one Joseph K., an ordinary man who wakes up one day to find himself accused of a crime he did not commit, a crime whose nature is never revealed to him. Once arrested, he is released, but must report to court on a regular basis--an event that proves maddening, as nothing is ever resolved. As he grows more uncertain of his fate, his personal life--including work at a bank and his relations with his landlady and a young woman who lives next door--becomes increasingly unpredictable. As K. tries to gain control, he succeeds only in accelerating his own excruciating downward spiral.
The Trial
Brave New World (1932) is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley. Set in a futuristic World State, whose citizens are environmentally engineered into an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story's protagonist (one Bernard Marx). In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Brave New World at number five on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th c.
Brave New World
Beloved is a 1987 novel by the late American writer Toni Morrison. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and, in a survey of writers and literary critics compiled by The New York Times, it was ranked the best work of American fiction from 1981 to 2006. The work, set after the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865, was inspired by the life of Margaret Garner, an African American who escaped slavery by crossing the Ohio River to Ohio, a free state. Garner was subsequently captured and decided to kill her infant daughter rather than have her taken into slavery.
Beloved
Moby-Dick
The Grapes of Wrath

The Prophet is a book of 26 prose poetry fables written in English by the Lebanese-American poet and writer Kahlil Gibran. The Prophet has been translated into over 100 different languages, making it one of the most translated books in history. Moreover, it has never been out of print.The Prophet
“If you love somebody, let them go, if they don’t return, they were never yours.”
The Essential Rumi, by Rumi ~ e.g. ~ 'Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.'The Essential Rumi
“Lovers do not finally meet somewhere. They are in each other all along.”
Ways of Escape, a journey of sorts -- 'I was dead, deader than dead because, I was still alive.'Ways of Escape:
a journey of sorts

A short excerpt from the book: “I was dead, deader than dead because, I was still alive.”
The Significance of Literature, the podcast series.The Significance of
Literature

A podcast series that chronologically charts the key works of poetry and prose.

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