Literary Meet: A joke can introduce a little anarchy, Hanif Kureishi says

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 07 Desember 2013 | 22.23

British writer Hanif Kureishi took home the prize for quote of the day when he described romance as something that happens between writer and reader. The feted author and screenwriter of such works as The Buddha of Suburb and My Beautiful Laundrette sounded the ceremonial gong, as it were, of The Times of India Literary Carnival on Friday with his keynote address t h at touched on some of the definitive features of this literary outing.

"I'm happy to be in Bombay, my father's city," said Kureishi, whose father immigrated to the UK after Partition. His works have dealt with the immigrant's experience, sexuality and race, themes that will resound through the festival.

He paid a token tribute to the Carnival's theme this year, Romance, Love and Violence, in his opening lines, calling romance the chemistry between reader and writer; love, an associate of creativity and writing; and violence as that which emerges from the silence of bondage.

But his sights were set on humour and the role it plays in resisting political and cultural tyranny, recalling what Philip Roth called iconoclasts like Kakfa, Dostoevsky, Proust and Beckett: sit-down comedians . "It's a serious and necessary business, amusement," Kureishi said of writing that must entertain and provide good value at the same time. "Otherwise there is nothing between the reader and the writer," he warned. "And you can tell how serious it is by the number of writers and journalists in prison around the world and the attempts on their lives. To shut writers up, to censor them... is always a sure sign that the writer is doing the job. Words are dangerous; they're dynamite ," he said. Humour, according to Kureishi, may not start a revolution, but can loosen a brick in the wall; a joke can introduce a little anarchy into the world.

The author went on to describe his own creative evolution. As the son of an immigrant father and a British mother he stood on uncertain ground, he said, having to constantly field questions on his origins and his purpose in his adoptive world.

"I became aware that I represented a problem for the English because they kept asking me who I was, where I belonged and how long I would be staying. I was asked these questions so often, I began to lose my bearings. What was I doing to the neighbours to make them so philosophical? And so as a teenager , I began to write," he said. "I wrote for my life. The idea of having an identity, of calling myself a writer was suddenly consolidating and liberating. Critics would like to characterize me as an autobiographical writer, but I would like to reply that all writing is as autobiographical as a dream, in which every element both does and doesn't belong to the dreamer."

For Kureishi, as for countless authors, writing was a way of 'talking back'. It was an attempted solution to various internal and external conflicts.

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