'Keep me out of your novels': Hanif Kureishi's sister has had enough

Hanif Kureishi has made a habit of attacking relatives in print – and his latest book is noexception. It's time to stop, says the novelist's outraged sister, Yasmin Kureishi

So there is a new novel out by my brother called Something to Tell You. I was, of course, relieved to learn from a recent review that the central character's sister wasn't based on me, but appears to be another family member. There is quite a bevy of us now – my mother and father in The Buddha of Suburbia; Uncle Omar, portrayed as an alcoholic in a bedsit in My Beautiful Laundrette, then lauded in Hanif's memoir, My Ear at his Heart; an ex-girlfriend, Sally, who renamed his film Sammy and Rosie Get Laid as "Hanif Gets Paid, Sally gets Exploited". A semi-autobiographical novel, Intimacy (1998) centred around a man leaving his wife and kids for a younger woman. Tracey Scoffield, his ex-partner ("the wife") was not impressed. She stated that the book wasn't a novel: "You may as well call it a fish." There are probably many more...

And then there is me... Ouch! The sister, Paula, in the film The Mother (2003) – a particularly spiteful portrayal, via an amazingly insipid, two-dimensional character. Perhaps the viciousness is not on a par with that dished out in Hanif's novel Intimacy; however, in a singularly nasty twist, Scoffield was the producer of the BBC film, and must presumably must known darn well what she was doing – must have known that my life was out there being assassinated in the cause of "art". Her apparent collusion with Hanif was not a dignified move.

Anyhow, in celluloid, there was my life at the time up on screen: single parent, teacher, a son, feckless boyfriend (well, one or two, though none of them went for my mother, nor were they Daniel Craig, who played the part in the film). And there was the writing group, though I wouldn't give my brother the satisfaction of burning my writing, as Paula did in the film. It made excruciating viewing. It was like he'd swallowed some of my life, then spat it back out. I got the video from my mother when I heard what the storyline was – mother screws the daughter's boyfriend. I knew the daughter was me.

I watched The Mother on a portable television (the smaller the screen the better). I watched it in two parts, over two evenings. After part one, I thought it couldn't get worse, but it did. It was kind of freaky to me, that someone so successful should seemingly feel that threatened by me, that obsessed.

And now it is happening again, in the form of cheap jibes. Hanif said in an interview in The Telegraph recently, where I was referred to as "an aspiring writer": "But you can always rely on her for a letter to a newspaper. That's the extent of her writing ability." So here I am again being slagged off.

It seems rather ironic that Hanif's latest book should centre on psychoanalysis, because I'm afraid I've always been his emotional dustbin. And now (perhaps because he doesn't speak to me) he's using the media to play out his game of bullying and intimidation. He only does "hate" with me, always has, always will; even when we were speaking, it was always there festering, like some psychotic cocktail. I'm surprised he hasn't resolved those issues around sibling rivalry with his analyst. Think Dorothy Rowe's sister and sadly you have my brother. The psychologist says in her book about sibling rivalry, My Dearest Enemy, My Dangerous Friend: "All siblings in a position similar to mine, and there are a great number of us, find ourselves in a power struggle where we are in double jeopardy: first, the ordinary power struggle between two siblings; second, the undeserved revenge for something which we had been powerless to prevent." Put this together with my brother's access to the media, his ruthlessness and my powerlessness, and I'm in an awful position.

As for the "aspiring writer" tag, it's the first I've heard of it. It is hard to resist the allure of the Biro if you've been brought up by someone like my father. Hanif should know. His lure was potent. He was the father who sat me on his knee when I was four or five and read Oscar Wilde stories to me. For my birthday he used to give me novels by Jean Rhys, Balzac, Camus. He introduced me to RK Narayan, Thackeray, Rabindranath Tagore and Dickens... These are truly great gifts. And he never stopped encouraging me to write, though my resistance was often formidable.

I have written "stuff" from time to time. But I'm not aspiring – I write, sometimes, between looking after my three-year-old twins, nagging my 19-year-old, working as a teacher, doing the washing and so on. Perhaps I'm doing a bit more lately. And big brother doesn't like it. How pathetic. He isn't entitled to sole ownership of the Biro. Nor should he expect to be able to just trample over others like a greedy shopper at the first day of the sales, rifling though the gear for the best bargains to enhance his own image. I'm sorry, but that isn't art.

Oddly enough, my brother seems always to have loathed the idea of me writing. I remember a few years ago, after my father died, I'd won a competition for a play I wrote, and Hanif told me I should give up writing. I've always felt that he can't stand the thought that I might be any good, might be better than him.

Germaine Greer said recently: "It's getting harder and harder to be a real person. You used to have to die before assorted hacks started munching your remains and modelling a new version of you out of their own excreta." You don't even have to be famous these days.

I would have liked not to have written this, to be able to get on in my own way with my own life, but I know the insults, the remarks, will keep coming. I don't want to be seen as "good" in the preachy sense. I do believe that writers should be able to take from their experiences. But I don't think they should use their "art" to be malicious, or to settle scores, or to rewrite history without any regard for others. That is simply an abuse of privilege.

Hanif Kureishi's 'Something to Tell You', out on Thursday, is published by Faber and Faber, priced £16.99

Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot