Hanif Kureishi and the Politics of Comedy

Luke Ferretter


Born in the London suburbs in 1954, of a Pakistani father and an English mother, Hanif Kureishi emerged in the 1980s as one of the most prominent cultural producers of the British Asian community. His first film, My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), brought him unexpectedly to commercial success and a mainstream audience, a position consolidated by his novel The Buddha of Suburbia (1990). Since 1997, his work has turned from a concern with questions of “race” to an exploration of masculine sexuality and of the difficulties of adult relationships. Throughout, it has remained characterized by an irreverent strain of comedy. In this essay, I will analyse the political significance of this comedy, from Kureishi’s early responses to institutionalized racism to the more controversial sexual politics of his recent fiction.

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