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Hanif Kureishi

Hanif Kureishi is one of the most important writers of his generation and has often attracted controversy.

Best known for his radical approach to subject matter, Kureishi is the author of films such as My Beautiful Launderette and When Sammy and Rosie Get Laid which offered, for the first time, recognisable portraits of British Asian life.

The Asian characters, which inhabit Kureishi's films and books, are modern people not victims, sometimes involved in criminal activities. The Oscar nominated My Beautiful Launderette caused outrage in the mid 1980s because of the homosexual relationship between a young Asian man and a white man.

Having grown up in Bromley in Kent, Kureishi's desperation to escape the suburbs made him determined to pursue a career as a writer. The son of an Indian father and an English mother, Kureishi was the only Asian child at his local school and was a regular target of racism. In this South Bank Show, Melvyn Bragg talks to Kureishi about his childhood in Bromley and in particular the influence of his father. Kureishi believes that his creative impulse comes from his father, who worked at the Pakistani Embassy and wrote books in his spare time. His father taught Kureishi the need to be disciplined and how important it is to take your own talent seriously. Much of Kureishi's writing is preoccupied by father-son relationships.

Bromley also provided Kureishi with much of the subject matter for his later books and films - South London in the early 1980s, growing up as a 'semi-Asian' kid, pop music, fashion, drugs and sexuality - themes which still preoccupy much of his work. Kureishi has been particularly inspired by the musician David Bowie, who was a pupil at the same school in Bromley. Kureishi later worked with Bowie on the music for Kureishi's television series The Buddha of Suburbia - the adaptation of his novel.

Autobiography plays a large part in Kureishi's writing. The most famous example of this was over his short novel Intimacy in which a father walks out on his wife and two young sons, something which Kureishi had done himself two years before the book's publication. In this South Bank Show Melvyn Bragg talks to Kureishi about the role of autobiography in fiction and the responsibility of the author.

Kureishi also talks about his new film The Mother, which is about an older woman, recently widow who embarks on a sexual relationship with her daughter's boyfriend and the impact this has on their family life.

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