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LECTURE: Kureishi

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Sam Knowles

on 26 April 2013

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Transcript of LECTURE: Kureishi

'What can be said. And — and what can’t be’: The Black Album Ambiguity, Race, and a Decade in Crisis in Dr Sam Knowles
University of Lincoln
Dis-Locations 1981 refuses to grant political status to IRA prisoners, despite hunger strike in which 10 die 1982 Falklands/Malvinas conflict: MT invokes spirit of Empire/British domination in backing up diplomacy with the threat of force 1984, 1985 1987 1990 government announces closure 20 coal mines in England/Wales, with loss of 20,000 jobs; miners go on strike, leading to bloody confrontations between miners and government-mobilised police; police brought in from counties distant from picketing sites to ensure minimum regional sympathy; benefits stopped, so that poverty and hunger were rife throughout decade, resists international pressure to impose sanctions on Apartheid gov't in South Africa, and as late as 1987 MT pronounces anti-Apartheid ANC 'typical terrorist organisation'; also in 1987, 'Section 28' passed prohibiting teaching about/'promoting' of homosexuality 1986 MT's close relationship with US president Ronald Reagan leads her to support US bombing raid on Libya; her preference for defence ties with US again demonstrated in 'Westland affair', involving awarding defence contract to US firm one of MT's final acts in office: sending UK troops to support US assault on Iraq, 'Operation Desert Storm' (start first Gulf War) ‘Noticing [Shahid] looking at the Prince photograph, she said, “You like Prince?” He nodded. “Why?” [...] Grasping that this was not chatter but part of the interview, he strained to order his words into sense, but for months he’d barely spoken to anyone with half a brain. She coaxed him. “He’s half black and half white, half man, half woman, half size, feminine but macho too.”’ — Hanif Kureishi,
(London: Faber and Faber, 1995), p. 25 The Black Album 'half black' 'half white' ‘“Listen.” […]
‘“What’s that stand for?” she asked.
‘Shahid’s hand shot up. He couldn’t sit still.
‘“Yes, Shahid?”
‘“America, indeed. Our subject today.”’
— , p. 27 The Black Album ‘“To be born again,” sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, “first you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! To land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly. Tat-taa! Taka-thun! How to ever smile again, if first you won’t cry? How to win the darling’s love, mister, without a sigh? Baba, if you want to get born again . . .” Just before dawn one winter’s morning, New Year’s Day or thereabouts, two real, full-grown, living men fell from a great height, twenty-nine thousand and two feet, towards the English Channel, without benefit of parachutes or wings, out of a clear sky.’
— Salman Rushdie, (London: Vintage, 2006 [1988]), p. 3 The Satanic Verses ‘I am informing all brave Muslims of the world that the author of , a text written, edited, and published against Islam, the Prophet of Islam, and the Qur'an, along with all the editors and publishers aware of its contents, are condemned to death. I call on all valiant Muslims wherever they may be in the world to kill them without delay, so that no one will dare insult the sacred beliefs of Muslims henceforth.’
— Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, 14 Feb 1989 The Satanic Verses ‘The yard was nearly full when Chad strung the book on the pole and thrust it into the air […] Hat poured petrol over the pages […and] thrust a lighter into them. […] A shiver flared through the chapters; scorched pages whirled across the crowd. One paragraph took off towards Kilburn; several passages flew towards Westbourne Park; half the cover went straight up.’
— , pp. 222–25 The Black Album ‘Our families had been friends in Bombay before my father came to England and Rushdie's family moved to Pakistan. I was introduced to Salman by Italo Calvino in 1983, so we'd been friends for a while by the time of the fatwā. From to
, to Baudelaire to
, books have been attacked and condemned by various authorities, but it hadn't happened for a while in Britain. We'd all become rather complacent. The fatwā is one of the most significant events in postwar literary history; it reminded us that words can be dynamite and that in other parts of the world, particularly in the Muslim world, writers who spoke freely could be in great danger.’ — Hanif Kureishi, , 14 September 2012 Ulysses Last Exit to Brooklyn Madame Bovary The Guardian ‘Riaz said, “Kindly remind us of the topic, brother.” […]
‘“The . . . er . . . book,” he began.
‘Chad said, “That book.”
‘“Right,” Sadiq said.
‘“And story-telling. This is the issue! Why we need it. If we need it. What can be said. And — and what can’t be. What mustn’t be said. What is taboo and forbidden and why.”’ — , pp. 181–82 The Black Album ‘He wanted to inform Riaz that some of the language wasn’t as telling as it could be and that the thought was occasionally muddled; he’d re-organized it a little. He was about to tell Riaz this when they pulled up at the windswept estate.’ — , p. 88 The Black Album ‘“Not one person is interested! Who would want to read this? People don’t want this hate in their lives.” She began to rip up what she’d read. “Goodbye to filth, goodbye to filth — and don’t you spread it!”’
— , p. 73 The Black Album ‘“You should know, that boy you call Chad—”
‘“Why are you putting it like that?”
‘“He used to be called Trevor Buss.”
‘“Chad? I don’t believe you.”
‘Deedee shrugged.
‘He repeated, “Chad?”
‘“He was adopted by a white couple. The mother was racist, talked about Pakis all the time and how they had to fit in.”’ — , p. 106 The Black Album ‘“When he got to be a teenager he saw he had no roots, no connections with Pakistan, couldn’t even speak the language. So he went to Urdu classes. But when he tried asking for the salt in Southall everyone fell about at his accent. In England white people looked at him as if he were going to steal their car or their handbag […] But in Pakistan they looked at him even more strangely. Why should he be able to fit into a Third World theocracy?”’
— , p. 107 The Black Album ‘[Shahid’s] own self increasingly confounded him. One day he could passionately feel one thing, the next day the opposite. Other times provisional states would alternate from hour to hour; sometimes all crashed into chaos. He would wake up with this feeling: who would he turn out to be on this day? How many warring selves were there within him? Which was his real, natural self? Was there such a thing? How would he know it when he saw it?’ — , p. 147 The Black Album
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