Monday, 29 September 2008

Writers and Artists - Hanif Kureishi @ Göteborg Book Fair 2008

Hanif Kureishi (CBE) was at the Göteborg Book Fair. His seminar (discussion), hosted by Kristofer Lundström (on Friday 26 Sept; 13.00 - 13.45) was themed SEX, IMMIGRATION and LAUNDRETTES.

Like many writers who have to regularly do book tours and speak to (large) audiences (who hang on somewhat desperately to every word, almost pleading to be made to laugh, or at least chuckle), he had a sardonic, self-deprecating sense of humor, couched in a somewhat detached tone, and he fired off quips and quotable quotes like an elderstatesman comedian (or poet-laureate) on RedBull.

Image (c) Tolu Ogunlesi, 2008

I very much enjoyed listening to him talk, and soon found myself feverishly copying his many excellent one-liners (which would of course sound more profound heard than read, as it always happens).
*Interestingly, my email signature, which I set up weeks ago, ends with a Kureishi quote (can't remember where I got it): "I have no education at all. If I've learnt anything, it's through other people."

L-R: Kureishi's Swedish Publisher, Kureishi, Cecilia Gärding (AfroSvenskarna); background, Kristofer Lundström
Image (c) Tolu Ogunlesi, 2008

Here's what I was able to get down:

On his writing
"I write about my little patch of earth"
On being awarded the CBE by the Queen in the 2008 Honours List:

"The Queen loves me man! She loves me!"
Asked if the CBE Award surprised him:
"Surprised me? I've been waiting for it for ages!"
Asked why there was a lot of sex in one of his books:
"Sex is a good way to bring the characters in a book together... especially an orgy, with an orgy you can bring five, six disparate characters together..."
Still on the CBE (and this of course was meant only tongue-in-cheek!):
"The Queen only gives medals these days to blacks and Asians"
On the "For God and For Empire" inscription on the CBE Medal:
"I can't think of two finer clauses together."
His description of the writerly life:
"Indolence, perversion, uselessness and hanging around"
On Prizes:
"I'm grateful for any kind of prize at all..."
On being fascinated by the idea of people waking up in the morning to go to (a 9-5 style) work:
"...after all many people spend more time working than they do having sex..."
On psychoanalysis:
"... I've had therapy myself... it's been very helpful..."
On Writing:
"It takes probably ten years to learnt to become a writer, and during that time you need grants and support and encouragement..."
On Identity:
"My father wanted me to be a British kid. I grew up wanting to be British and Asian; on The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix - and then I met all these kids who wanted to be Muslim..."

And of course I did manage to get a pic with him :-)
(PS. No, I don't think I'm that tall, I suppose I'm simply standing on a higher step)


rayo said...

awwww tolu, i can only sigh. this guy sounds like he is wonderfully eccentric, those one-liners...

naijafashionfreak said...

I will love to meet this guy!!!..gosh!!he is a real character!!!