He’s my favourite author and my favourite grumpy old man. Apologies to Hanif, if he’s reading this, but I love some of his rants when he’s being interviewed.
I’ve bought, but not yet read The Last Word, but delighted in his cutting humour. He gave an irreverent and satirical commentary on the so called influx of immigrants into the country which is ruining us, if you believe what the papers say.
How much of Mamoon, the main character in the book, asked Rosie Boycott, is Hanif Kureishi? As a child, he was surrounded by drunken old Indian men, many his uncles. They were a great inspiration for him. Rosie then asked how much of his own experience was in the film, Le Weekend? Films are full of people having sex for the first time he said, and he began to wonder what it would be like to be married to the same person for 30 years and still have sex with them. Where was the danger and when to leave them? The inspiration came after looking back at photos of his 40th birthday party, realising that all the couples had parted company apart from him and his filmmaker friend Roger Michell.
The conversation then turned to the problem of growing up as the product of a mixed race marriage, something that informed a great deal of his writing. He confessed to writing as a response to the sheer terror of being chased by gangs because of his colour. Reading literature at last made him feel that he wasn’t alone, and that the problem belongs to society.
He is troubled by the shift toward religious fundamentalism by Muslim youths, reflected in his novel, My Son the Fanatic and wants to write in a more comedic manner. “How do we support young Muslims attracted by the radicalism of Islam?” one audience member asked. By getting them to read more widely he answered, and give up the fantasy reflected by the papers that “the white person is disappearing into a sink of immorality” because this is not the truth.