Luvvie Author Lies His Way into the Mother of All Family Rows; HANIF KUREISHI CLAIMS HE HAD AN IMPOVERISHED, WORKING CLASS CHILDHOOD. THIS IS THE TRUE STORY, BY HIS LOVED ONES

Daily Mail (London), May 8, 1998 | Go to article overview

Luvvie Author Lies His Way into the Mother of All Family Rows; HANIF KUREISHI CLAIMS HE HAD AN IMPOVERISHED, WORKING CLASS CHILDHOOD. THIS IS THE TRUE STORY, BY HIS LOVED ONES


Byline: PETER ALLEN;CHRIS EVANS

HE is the darling of the liberal literary establishment. There was an Oscar nomination for Hanif Kureishi for his screenplay My Beautiful Laundrette, and his BBC drama The Buddha of Suburbia provoked massive controversy for its full-frontal nudity.

Throughout his career among the luvvies the 43-year-old author has made much of his impoverished childhood.

Last week he repeated this story about his working class upbringing in graphic detail in The Guardian.

He claimed that, against all the odds, his talent blossomed in a tiny two-up two-down which he was forced to share not only with his parents and his sister but with countless members of his extended family, including his 'cloth-cap working class' grandfather.

The air, we were told, was stale with his embittered father's frustration at his failed life.

At night he lay awake as his parents argued over Mr Kureishi's meagre earnings as a lowly clerk. His mother, it was reported, worked in a local shoe factory.

Now his family have had enough of these tales - because they are not true.

In a blistering letter to The Guardian his sister has accused him of selling the 'family down the line'.

And yesterday his widowed mother Audrey told the truth about Kureishi's childhood to the Daily Mail. She said: 'Hanif has made us sound like the dregs of society just because it suits his image and his career. He better have a good excuse otherwise he's going to be in a lot of trouble.' Mrs Kureishi and her daughter Yasmin have been proud of his success, accepting his enthusiasm for the drug culture and standing by him when he deserted the mother of his twin sons.

But the latest interview has snapped their patience.

The fact is that the writer enjoyed a cultured, middle-class upbringing in a 'pleasant semi, down a quiet cul-de-sac'.

His father, son of a doctor and Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian army, became a high-ranking embassy official.

His mother never worked at a shoe factory and their marriage was a happy one.

Mrs Kureishi assumes that her son is trying to improve his street credentials with his Leftwing literary friends by rewriting his own history.

'I suppose it's trendy and fashionable for an author to pretend they had a working class background nowadays, but Hanif had everything he wanted as a child,' she said.

'He went to good schools, played cricket and football and went on family holidays. His father wore a suit and took the train to London every morning like thousands of other commuters. If anything our life was a little bit dull, but it certainly was not underprivileged or working class.' His sister Yasmin was so annoyed by the article in The Guardian that she sent an angry letter to the paper.

'Does being famous mean you can devalue those around you and rewrite history for even more personal gain?' she asked. 'The article gives a false impression of our family life.' She went on: 'I feel deeply saddened that it should come to this because I have felt so proud of Hanif and his achievements and have followed his success closely.' But, she claimed, 'the description of my father at the end of his life as a "bitter man" is grossly and cruelly exaggerated'.

She concluded: 'The memory of my father I hold very dear and I will do anything in my power to ensure that it is not fabricated for the entertainment of the public or for Hanif's profit, and that the feelings of my mother and I are not hurt more than they have been already.' Hanif Kureishi has always exhibited a taste for controversy. My Beautiful Laundrette deals with a homosexual relationship between an Asian and a white man. He called the poll tax riots 'terrific', and once described Britain as an 'authoritarian rat-hole'.

KUREISHIfreely espouses the pleasures of drug-taking, including Ecstasy.

Indeed, he made a film about his drug dealer Glynn Roberts.

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Luvvie Author Lies His Way into the Mother of All Family Rows; HANIF KUREISHI CLAIMS HE HAD AN IMPOVERISHED, WORKING CLASS CHILDHOOD. THIS IS THE TRUE STORY, BY HIS LOVED ONES
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