Collected Essays [ePub]

by Hanif Kureishi

A screenplay is more of a plan than a work of art

Race, class, sexuality and so on, [these are the] questions provoked by my childhood and family situation

If people have too many ideas about you it’s impossible for them to see you

You are both over-scrutinized and ignored

Routine makes the imagination possible

Then you try to sell something to the world it doesn’t know it needs

An author should write at least one work the title of which the general public will remember and associatewith him

A good portion of the important world is insubstantial, being made up of dream, fantasy, paranoid projections and the imagination

The novel is concerned with numerous voices, and wants to keep them in play until the dispute done

An essay is a monologue, a form of a direct speech

From the start I tried to deny my Pakistani self. I was ashamed. It was a curse and I wanted to be rid of it

I had been racially abused. I became incapable of distinguishing between remarks that were genuinely intended to hurt and those intended as 'humor'

As I planned my escape I read Baldwin all the time, I read Richard Wright and I admired Muhammad Ali

[One of my uncle said about Pakistan] I tell you, this country is being sodomised by religion

Bonus that in Pakistan, God was always on the side of the government

The patriots were abroad

The future was to be determined choice and reason, not by custom

I wasn’t a foreigner. I kept forgetting that

Now, on the shabby prayer mat, she was tiny and around her the universe was endless, immense, but God was above her

A society that is racist is a society that cannot accept itself, that hates parts of itself so deeply that it cannot see, does not want to see

Returning back to England was harder than going. I had culture shock in reverse. Images of plenty yelled at me. England seemed to be overflowing with things. Things from all over the world

These things had to be said, even in low voices, because absolute silence was intolerable

To exercise intelligence in a country where intelligence was in itself a weapon and a threat

A picture in a house that contained fragments of my past

Help me form an image of myself

Most writers would say, quite rightly, that their subjects choose them

The vocation of each writer is to describe the world as he or she sees it

The Americans had been afraid of the Left, and hadn't noticed the significance of mosques

Fundamentalism is dictatorship of the mind

A live culture is an exploration, and represents our endless curiosity about our own strangeness

Wisdom is more important than doctrine, doubt more important than certainty

Fundamentalism implies the failure of our most significant attribute, our imagination

In the fundamentalist scheme there is only one imaginer - God. The rest of us are his servants

I believed that questions of race, identity and culture were the major issues post-colonial Europe had to face

For them, to argue with the Truth was like trying to disagree with the facts of geometry

Milan Kundera told Philip Roth: 'I learned the value of humor during the times of Stalinist terror'

Let’s remind ourselves: words are very dangerous, they are dynamite

Jokes can't start a revolution, but they can loosen the bricks in the wall

A joke introduces a little anarchy into the world, a bit of disruption. It tastes the limits it pushes them

All writing is as autobiographical as a dream

Fundamentalism provides security. For the fundamentalist everything has been decided. Truth has been agreed and nothing must change

A child is a cocktail of its parents' desires

Like the racist, the fundamentalist works only with fantasy

A film director friend after 9/11: 'What do we do now? There's no point to us. It's all politics and survival. How do the artists go on'

If both racism and fundamentalism are diminishers of life - reducing others to abstractions - the effort of culture must be to keep others alive by describing and celebrating their intricacy

I wanted to be a novelist. I thought that writing books in a room on my own was all I would do

Some people, I guess, become writers because they're afraid of others or addicted to solitude

I'm sure people in other professions don’t have an existential crisis every morning

My father wanted to be a writer

Writing was an obsession, and as with most obsessions, fulfilment remained out of reach

The obsession kept him incomplete but it kept him going

Stories are everywhere, and they can be made from the simplest things

The aged Tolstoy thought he had to solve all the problems of life

Chekov saw that these problems could only be put, not answered

How, then, can the novel, the subtlest and most flexible form of human expression, die?

Most journalism is about erasing personality in favor of the facts, or the 'story'. The personality of the journalist is unimportant

In literature personality is all, and the exploration of character - or portraiture, the human subject

The blank empty page is a representation of this helplessness. Who am I?

We shouldn’t forget that we create our creativity, and imagine our imagination

Art represents freedom of thought

To express dangerous wishes. This freedom, of course, is a kind of instability. Wishes conflicts with the forbidden

One of the conditions of being a writer is the ability to bear and enjoy solitude

Alfred de Musset: 'It is not work. It is merely listening. It is as if some unknown person were speaking in your ear'

[Writing] gives the day a necessary weight

15.10.2011

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