Collected Stories, By Hanif Kureishi
Please! Enough of the mid-life crisis
Sunday 06 March 2011
Most of the pieces included in this voluminous anthology of Hanif Kureishi's short fiction are relatively recent – his first collection of stories, Love in a Blue Time, was not published until 1997 – and, perhaps as a consequence, it displays very little variation in theme or tone.
The characteristic Kureishi protagonist is in his forties or fifties, usually a Londoner, involved in media or the arts, pursuing money and sex – but, ultimately, unable to muster much enthusiasm for either.
Indeed, this character recurs so often that the book comes to resemble a vast and somewhat dreary composite novel about the ennui of the middle-aged male: Kureishi evokes the restrictions of marriage ("D'accord, Baby"); the anguish of separation and divorce ("The Umbrella", "Midnight All Day"); and the dubious consolations of material success ("Maggie", "The Decline of the West").
Though there are wry insights and elegantly turned sentences to be found in each of these stories, one soon begins to tire of Kureishi's world-weariness, and to long for the iconoclast who gave us ebullient novels such as The Buddha of Suburbia (1990). When the author does depart from the mid-life crisis template, the results can be brilliant – witness "My Son the Fanatic", a pin-sharp evocation of the birth of fundamentalism in a British Muslim family, or the exquisite "Touched", about the relationship between a teenage boy and an elderly woman – and one wonders why he is not more adventurous, more often.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
- 2 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 3 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 4 Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
- 5 What TripAdvisor users think of 16 of the world's most popular landmarks
Conan O'Brien accused of stealing jokes from Twitter, could have to pay hundreds of thousands in damages
Top Gear: Jenson Button reportedly joining Chris Evans as replacement host
R Kelly's Ignition (Remix) is the most nostalgic song going, according to Spotify
Game of Thrones season 6: New toy line suggests Jon Snow is not among the dead
Game of Thrones season 6 set photos leak online
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Labour leadership contest: I would never quit the party, says Liz Kendall