Buddha of Suburbia author Hanif Kureishi, 68, is hospitalised in Rome after a fall. His four limbs are paralysed and doctors don’t know if he will walk again. But he is using his voice to venture out into the world, and finding nourishment in the responses of his readers.
Kureishi’s son, Carlo, encouraged him to dictate a daily blog, which is receiving lots of attention, as well as a Twitter feed. You can subscribe to both, to read what Kureishi describes as “rambling dispatches”. Kureishi introduced the blog, saying, “I will be writing about writing as well as my new immobilised predicament. I will be writing about sex and drugs and music, TV shows and writers I admire, and my memories, among other important matters.”
Of his “immobilised predicament”, Kureishi writes:“We have convinced ourselves that there is a standard of the well and effective human being. It means that we cannot always see the disabled, just as in other circumstances we fail to see others of colour, or queers. We should give up the standardised view of the world for a more complex view, which will include more people.”
He has made new friends amongst the patients and medical staff and reflects:
“When I think about It, I wonder how long it has been since I made a new friend that I liked and who liked me. I guess it didn’t occur to me that I could be interested in someone new. I woke up this morning thinking about my old life and how dull it was. I wonder whether I enjoyed the repetition of it or whether I had just become lazy.”
Kureishi started writing plays in 1979 and first became known as a screenwriter for films such as My Beautiful Launderette (1985), for which he was Oscar-nominated, and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1988). Buddha of Suburbia, an autobiographical novel about a British-Pakistani boy growing up in the London suburbs in the 60s and 70s, was immensely popular, and adapted into a BBC miniseries with a soundtrack by David Bowie.
In one of his blog threads, Kureishi encouraged readers to send him stories. He was so enthused by the responses, he has launched a competition for short stories on the theme of youth of 750 words or less. Deadline: 8 March.
The blog also features writing tips from Kureishi and his sons, who are both writers.
This 15-minute BBC Radio 4 podcast is a profile of Kureishi produced after his accident.