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Hanif Kureishi

Hanif Kureishi

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: December 5, 1954 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Bromley, England, GB Profession: playwright, screenwriter, director, essayist, stage manager, scene shifter, novelist, box-office clerk, usher

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Perhaps more than any other British filmmaker, Hanif Kureishi startled the world with the grim but colorful realities of urban life for the youth culture in Thatcherite England. Born in Bromley, a London suburb, to a Pakistani father and a white English mother, he was the only Asian in his school. Called "Pakistani Pete" by a teacher and spat upon and beaten by classmates he had known since childhood, Kureishi had firsthand experience of the rising tide of prejudice and racial animosity expressed by white working-class Britons in the late 1960s and early 70s. Much of his subsequent work as a playwright, screenwriter and novelist would ponder the complexities of being both Black and British.Kureishi studied philosophy at King's College at Cambridge, but writing had been his true love since the age of fourteen. With the encouragement of his father, a part-time political journalist, Kureishi penned four unpublished novels as a teen. He began an apprenticeship in London theaters after college and worked at a variety of jobs including box-office clerk, scene shifter, stage manager and usher at the Royal Court Theatre. While writing plays, Kureishi made ends meet by writing pornographic stories for...

Perhaps more than any other British filmmaker, Hanif Kureishi startled the world with the grim but colorful realities of urban life for the youth culture in Thatcherite England. Born in Bromley, a London suburb, to a Pakistani father and a white English mother, he was the only Asian in his school. Called "Pakistani Pete" by a teacher and spat upon and beaten by classmates he had known since childhood, Kureishi had firsthand experience of the rising tide of prejudice and racial animosity expressed by white working-class Britons in the late 1960s and early 70s. Much of his subsequent work as a playwright, screenwriter and novelist would ponder the complexities of being both Black and British.

Kureishi studied philosophy at King's College at Cambridge, but writing had been his true love since the age of fourteen. With the encouragement of his father, a part-time political journalist, Kureishi penned four unpublished novels as a teen. He began an apprenticeship in London theaters after college and worked at a variety of jobs including box-office clerk, scene shifter, stage manager and usher at the Royal Court Theatre. While writing plays, Kureishi made ends meet by writing pornographic stories for magazines under the pseudonym Antonia French. By 1981, he was writer-in-residence at the Royal Court. Some of his plays, such as "The Mother Country" (1980) and "Borderline" (1981), dealt specifically with the Asian immigrant experience while others, like "The King and Me" (1983), about a young woman's obsession with Elvis Presley, and "Outskirts" (also 1983), about a pair of adult friends who were criminal accomplices in childhood, dealt with more general topics.

Acclaim and controversy came in collaboration with director Stephen Frears on "My Beautiful Laundrette" (1985). Made for English TV, the film was released theatrically and put both filmmakers and actor Daniel Day-Lewis on the international map. This darkly funny observation of ambitious middle-class Pakistanis happily exploiting hostile whites while living up to Prime Minister Thatcher's entrepreneurial ideals actually enraged and embarrassed many Pakistani immigrants in England and the US. They objected to its lack of positive images and some were troubled by the matter-of-fact homosexuality of the young protagonist. There were picket lines around NYC theaters showing the film.

Kureishi and Frears reteamed for "Sammy and Rosie Get Laid" (1987), a lively account of the bohemian lifestyles of an interracial London couple in an open marriage. Though a mostly entertaining chronicle of the tensions of sexual, economic and racial relations, the film was undermined by overarching ambition and a lack of focus.

Kureishi published his first novel, "The Buddha of Suburbia", to considerable acclaim in 1990. The following year, he made his directorial debut with "London Kills Me", from his screenplay. This rambling story concerned itself with a marginal group of homeless youth and the drug culture within which they travel. The film received a mixed critical reception from a press that lamented the absence of Frears' practiced organizing sensibility. Kureishi next resurfaced on TV as the screenwriter of an outstanding 1993 miniseries adapted from "The Buddha of Suburbia".

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  London Kills Me (1991) Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Black and White in Color (1992) Himself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born and raised in Bromley, a London suburb
:
Was the only Asian in his school
:
Wrote four unpublished novels as a teen
:
Began an apprenticeship in London theatres
:
Worked as usher at Royal Court Theatre, London
:
Wrote pornographic magazine fiction under the pseudonym Antonia French
1975:
At 18 had play produced at Royal Court Theatre
1980:
Had his first full-length play, "The Mother Country", produced
1980:
Wrote a radio play entitled "You Can't Go Home"
1981:
Became writer-in-residence at Royal Court Theatre
1981:
Had his second play, "Borderline", produced by the Royal Court
1982:
Wrote a radio adaptation of Franz Kafka's "The Trial"
1984:
Adapted Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage and Her Children" for the Royal Shakespeare Company
1985:
Wrote somewhat autobiographical screenplay for "My Beautiful Laundrette" while visiting relatives in Karachi, Pakistan
1991:
Began directing first film (also writer), "London Kills Me"
1999:
Wrote script for "My Son the Fanatic"
1999:
First produced play in 15 years "Sleep With Me"
2003:
Wrote "The Mother," which was adapted into a movie by Roger Michell
2006:
Once again worked with Roger Michell who adapted "Venus" into a feature that starred Peter O'Toole and Leslie Phillips
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

King's College, University of Cambridge: -

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Tracey Scoffield. Book editor. Mother of Kureishi's twin sons; Kureishi left her for another woman.
companion:
Monique Proudlove. Mother of Kureishi's younger son.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Rafiushan Kureishi. Clerk, part-time political journalist. Pakistani; moved to London in 1947 to attend college; worked as a civil servant at the Pakastani embassy in London for 35 years.
mother:
Audrey Kureishi. English.
sister:
Yasmin Kureishi.
son:
Kier Kureishi. Born c. 1998; mother, Monique Proudlove.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Borderline" Methuen
"Birds of Passage" Amber Lane Press
"Outskirts" Riverrun
"My Beautiful Laundrette" Faber and Faber
"Sammy and Rosie Get Laid" Penguin
"The Buddah of Suburbia" Viking
"The Black Album"
"Faber Book of Pop" Faber and Faber
"Love in a Blue Time" Scribner
"Intimacy" Faber and Faber
"Midnight All Day" Faber and Faber
"Gabriel's Gift"
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