What Happened? by Hanif Kureishi – review

Stephanie Merritt in The Guardian:

Unlike Hillary Clinton, who used the same title for her memoir, Hanif Kureishi attaches a question mark to What Happened?, making clear that this collection of essays and stories is an interrogation of the recent past and not merely a dispassionate account of events. There is a note of incredulity, too, in his question, and this desire to comprehend and come to terms with the cultural and political shifts of the past decade runs through the book.

What Happened? serves as a postscript to Kureishi’s Collected Essays, published in 2011, which brought together the best of his journalism and nonfiction over the previous three decades. Many of the pieces here revisit similar themes and preoccupations, particularly around ideas of race, religion and cultural identity. Why Should We Do What God Says? and Fanatics, Fundamentalists and Fascists cast an eye back to the 1989 fatwa against his friend Salman Rushdie, and the far-reaching ripples of that event for free speech, the western perception of Islam, and the hardening and polarising of ideologies. “The contemporary view of Muslims is the mirror image of the current far-right ideology overtaking the west: sexist, homophobic, insular, monocultural, combative,” he writes in the latter piece, before calling for a different kind of radicalism among the young, a movement of solidarity to tackle the creeping fascism and fearful power-grabbing of their elders.

More here.

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