The Sunday Magazine

Novelist Hanif Kureishi says Britain's middle class is more racist than ever

It used to be that sex and passion were Kureishi’s dominant concerns. Now, he's preoccupied by race. The author of 'My Beautiful Laundrette', 'Sammy and Rosie Get Laid', and a new novel, 'The Nothing', is Michael Enright’s guest.
In 2008, Kureishi was named as one of the "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945" in the British newspaper 'The Times.' (Kier Kureishi)

The British novelist Hanif Kureishi has been stirring things up ever since he wrote the screenplay to My Beautiful Laundrette in 1985. It was the story of a gay love affair between two teenagers, one Pakistani and one white, set against the backdrop of racism and recession in Britain. It shocked the world.

In the ensuing three decades, Hanif Kureishi has continued to unsettle his audiences in plays, screenplays and novels like The Black Album, The Buddha of Suburbia and The Last Word.

Norman Mailer described his writing as "absolutely his own, unsparing, unsentimental," never scoring a point just for the cruelty of it.

Hanif Kureishi was born in Bromley, South London. His father was from Bombay and made his way to England via Pakistan. His mother was English.

He studied philosophy at the University of London and began writing plays for the Royal Court when he was 21. He has won many awards, including an academy award nomination for best screenplay for My Beautiful Laundrette. In 2010 he won the Pen Pinter Prize.

His latest novel is called The Nothing. In his book, Hanif Kureishi turns his eye to aging, sexual jealousy and revenge.

Click 'listen' at the top of the page to hear Michael Enright's conversation with Hanif Kureishi.