Being a writer was a counter-force to people saying I was a half-caste, a Paki, a mongrel.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-10-18 23:00Z by Steven

“Being a writer was a counter-force to people saying I was a half-caste, a Paki, a mongrel. It was a real thing in the world, an identity. I needed to call myself a writer back then because they were calling me a fucking Paki… We are all mixed-race now – me, Obama, Tiger Woods, Lewis Hamilton.” —Hanif Kureishi

James Kidd, “Hanif Kureishi: ‘We’re all mixed-race now,” The Independent, October 23, 2011.

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Hanif Kureishi: ‘We’re all mixed-race now

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, Religion, United Kingdom on 2015-10-18 22:03Z by Steven

Hanif Kureishi: ‘We’re all mixed-race now

The Independent

James Kidd

Immigration, Islamism, multi-culturalism – as his new collected stories attests, the hottest topics of the day have long been the bedrock of Hanif Kureishi’s fiction. Just don’t get him started on the joys of ‘Big Brother’…

Hanif Kureishi is, by some accounts, a hard man to interview. In the days before our meeting, any number of people insist that the author of My Beautiful Laundrette, The Buddha of Suburbia and The Black Album is cantankerous, sarcastic and prone to lengthy lacunae in the middle of conversation. This portrait is corroborated by some of those closest to Kureishi: his sister and more than one ex-partner have complained of literary parasitism, that their lives have been exploited in the service of Kureishi’s art. It is a charge that he doesn’t exactly refute: “If [your writing] doesn’t upset your family, you must be doing it wrong.”

Perhaps the problem is that no one got him on to the subject of Celebrity Big Brother. This not only sparks his enthusiasm, it proves that Kureishi speaks like he writes – an entertaining mix of irreverent humour, personal revelation and social critique. So a relatively grave discussion about “the psychotic exhibitionism of our time” (or “the age of Jordan”) triggers a lengthy dissection of the recent reality series.

“My missus says Jordan chooses really nice men then destroys them. It seems a good way to pass the time. The cage-fighter [Alex Reid] is a nice bloke – thick, but nice. Unlike Vinnie [Jones]. He was quite hardcore – a naughty, tough daddy. I think Vinnie had an evil edge. People were afraid of him.”…

…What he does remember is the urgency to become a writer. Growing up in Bromley in the 1960s, surrounded by racist teachers, skinheads and the National Front, it was his means to self-expression and political empowerment. “Being a writer was a counter-force to people saying I was a half-caste, a Paki, a mongrel. It was a real thing in the world, an identity. I needed to call myself a writer back then because they were calling me a fucking Paki.” He pauses. “We are all mixed-race now – me, Obama, Tiger Woods, Lewis Hamilton.”

Kureishi says he was fortunate that the themes which distinguished his seminal works – race, immigration, Islam and multi-culturalism – have so profoundly defined 21st-century global culture. “You are lucky if you hit it for five years. I suddenly saw that the story of my father, a Muslim man coming to Britain, was not only his story, it was the story of the West. It was gold dust. No one else was writing about it, and people didn’t welcome it. ‘This is very good, Hanif, but do they have to be Indian in a cornershop?'”

Twenty years after The Buddha of Suburbia helped change the landscape of British fiction, and society, Kureishi continues to have plenty to say. He is certainly still politically engaged and enraged. “My dad’s family always thought that power rendered white people unsophisticated. Look at the stupidity of invading Iraq. Every Muslim would think that was hilarious stupidity. It has destroyed American power in the world. They aren’t going to invade anywhere else now. The Iranians aren’t afraid of them. The Koreans aren’t afraid. How stupid was that strategically, let alone morally? They have, as it were, shot their bolt.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Deconstructing the Mixed-Race Experience of Passing

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2013-10-09 02:41Z by Steven

Deconstructing the Mixed-Race Experience of Passing

California State University, San Marcos
May 2006
172 pages

Victoria Baldo Segall

A Thesis Submitted for Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Literature and Writing Studies

In “Beauty and the Beast: On Racial Ambiguity” Carla Bradshaw describes passing as an attempt to achieve acceptability by claiming membership in some desired group while denying other racial elements in oneself thought to be undesirable (79). In literature on passing, the mixed-race individual may, as Bradshaw suggests, become a “chameleon” if s/he desires; s/he may choose to pass as one race over another and blend with one race for reasons such as self-preservation. Bradshaw’s description of passing as gaining “false access” to a particular group or identity aides in setting thetone for passing as a harmful experience for the mixed-race individual. Specifically, this thesis will show that, as we’ll see with Nella Larsen’sPassing,” Danzy Senna’s Caucasia, and Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia, not only does passing present the instability of race, but it emotionally and physically destroys the mixed-race individual; the characters have the power and ability to perform and live within different racial worlds, but through their passing they ultimately disempower the non-dominant race of which they are a part and empower the dominant race.

To support this argument, Chapters One through Three will explore how, imbedded within all three texts, there are four themes in particular that play influential roles in the discussion of mixed-race identity and its relation to passing:

  • fixed identity vs. unfixed identity
  • performance of identity
  • displacement
  • racial consciousness

Table of Contents

  • I. Introduction
  • II. Chapter One: The Fall of Nella Larsen’s “Passing”
  • III. Chapter Two: The Supposed Super Hybrid Birdie of Danzy Senna’s Caucasia
  • IV. Chapter Three: The Problem with Hybrid Vigor in Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia
  • V. Conclusion

Read the entire thesis here.

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The Buddha of Suburbia

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Novels, United Kingdom on 2013-10-09 02:40Z by Steven

The Buddha of Suburbia

Penguin Press
288 pages
5.07 x 7.83in
Paperback ISBN: 9780140131680

Hanif Kureishi

Karim Amir lives with his English mother and Indian father in the routine comfort of suburban London, enduring his teenage years with good humor, always on the lookout for adventure—and sexual possibilities. Life gets more interesting, however, when his father becomes the Buddha of Suburbia, beguiling a circle of would-be mystics. And when the Buddha falls in love with one of his disciples, the beautiful and brazen Eva, Karim is introduced to a world of renegade theater directors, punk rock stars, fancy parties, and all the sex a young man could desire. A love story for at least two generations, a high-spirited comedy of sexual manners and social turmoil, The Buddha of Suburbia is one of the most enchanting, provocative, and original books to appear in years.

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