Hanif Kureishi: ‘Racism drives people crazy, it is necessary to deal with this in fiction’ | Books

My first memory of reading
I can remember lying in my parents’ bed and reading an entire book for the first time. Whether it’s Biggles, Bunter or something for Enid Blyton, I got hooked. I started going to the library every day, and I have barely been able to go an hour without glancing over some phrase or another. Reading has become a habit, but it has never ceased to be a pleasure.

my favorite book growing up
My father had an excellent library of political and philosophical works, which was where I received my education, insofar as I have it. But it was Tom Sawyer that captivated me from its brilliant first page. Twain’s spirited and eventful story of an uncontrollable urchin and his various mischief and adventures helped propel my first novel, The Buddha of the Suburbs.

The book that change I to have it has Teen
Braithwaite’s ER For Sir, With Love was the first book he read about race and schools in Britain. I already knew how crazy and aggressive racial differences drove people, and it helped me begin to understand that questions of race would be at the center of the post-war Western world; I saw that it was possible and necessary to deal with this in fiction.

The writer who changed my mind
I was reading philosophy in college when I saw that, as part of our course, Richard Wollheim he would be lecturing on Freud, even though Freud was despised, if not refuted, by many philosophers. then I read Wollheim’s lucid introduction to Freud published in the brilliant Fontana Modern Masters series. Philosophy was fascinating but dry, and suddenly Freud made me think about sexuality, censorship, dreams, the unconscious, and language. Even then, in the 1970s, people said that Freud was wrong and out of date. Although these critics are now forgotten, Freud’s work continues to be relevant and explored.

The book that made me want to be a writer
The Catcher in the Rye by JD SalingerWith Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth, made me realize that it was possible to write books that could be as inspiring, truthful and direct as pop music, but with more depth and background. And with great jokes and better stories. The individual voices of these writers helped me see that it is tone and character rather than plot that can drive a readable novel.


the book i reread

I return repeatedly to the Swann in Love section of of proust In Search of Lost Time, in which two people, the aristocrat Charles Swann and his lower-class lover, Odette de Crécy, who are clearly not compatible with each other, are lost in a spiral of recognizable jealousy, obsession and paranoia. If love and desire can drive us completely crazy, it is unfortunately what we crave the most and cannot do without.

The book I could never read again
jack kerouac On the Road was a favorite of my friends and I in the late ’70s, and we’d read passages of its fluid, uncompromising prose to each other while sitting cross-legged on cushions drinking wine. I remember it as a wonderful book about escape, freedom, and an open future, and I don’t want to find out that it was all, in fact, as Truman Capote said, just “typing.”

The book I discovered later in life.
Once upon a time my favorite uncle, omar kurishi, which is the story of the large Kureishi family of 12 children living in exotic privilege in India just before World War II. Under a tyrannical but gambling father with a penchant for Parsee women and extravagant cars, the brothers have many adventures on trains, in cafes, at soirées, and while playing cricket in Poona and Bombay (now Mumbai). However, as Kureishi explains, the central character will always be the British Raj, and soon the family will split and disperse, living everywhere but never again in India.

my consolation reading
When I feel gloomy or pessimistic, the book that reminds me that change and optimism are possible is Oscar Wilde’s. The soul of man under socialism, a wise and witty essay that recommends both equality and indolence, and seems to believe that you can’t have one without the other. And: “Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is the original virtue of man. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.” Genius.

The book I am currently reading.
I’m really enjoying Andrea Lawlor’s Paul takes the form of a mortal girl, which is about a shape-shifting boy/girl flâneur as they move through a crazy ’90s scene of leather bars, lesbian clubs, and punks. With loads of sex, music, and clothes, he’s dirty, sharp, and smart. What’s not to like?

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