Hanif Kureishi: the pariah of suburbia

From The Telegraph:

Hanif Kureishi, erstwhile bad boy of English literature, has long enraged family members and ex-wives with his work. And now he’s taking on a whole country.

Hanif‘Love,” says Hanif Kureishi, “is the only game in town.” We meet in the unpretentious café near his west London home where he likes to watch the world go by. He’s serious, open, but with a hint of shyness; his eyes look away as he answers questions. Perhaps it’s his age (he’s 58 this month); perhaps it’s the result of regular therapy sessions; perhaps it’s the inevitable culmination of a body of work – novels, short stories and essays, plays and screenplays – that extends from the Eighties to today. Whatever it is, all conversational roads lead to passion.

Of course, Kureishi, who is handsome, and delivers his points emphatically, with a deadpan expression, has never really shied away from the subject of relationships. This is the writer who once shocked us with a homosexual kiss between a Pakistani and a white skinhead in the Oscar-nominated film My Beautiful Laundrette and depicted an emerging multicultural Britain that was raw, druggy and promiscuous in his novel, The Buddha of Suburbia. But he is now convinced it’s love, not sex, that has the power to change perceptions.

Those early works skewered racism in much the way that class prejudice was exposed by a generation of “angry young men” writers like John Osborne in the Fifties. The Buddha of Suburbia in particular seeped into popular consciousness as the risqué, must-watch TV series of 1993, capturing all the tensions and energy of Thatcherite Britain. Sex was used as a vehicle for exploring broader freedoms. “Now sex has become cheapened,” says Kureishi. “Sexual acts are turned into popular literature like Fifty Shades of Grey. You can find sex anytime, anywhere if you want – it’s not difficult, but having a real relationship with someone that is profound and significant and life-changing is far more dangerous than an act of copulation.”

More here.

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