Written by Others…

Here you will find links to some of the interesting articles on literature and literary figures that I stumble across as I scan the web with my coffee in hand.

This update (August 2018) concerns Hanif Kureishi and his thoughts on the London Borough in which he was brought up. Sometimes I tell my students that literature can save the world. Well, perhaps it’s more likely to save the individual rather than the world at large. But great events unravel from the most modest of beginnings…

“Hanif Kureishi on Bromley”

Hanif Kureishi recalls library visits and dreams of becoming a writer in the suburban commuter town (11 Aug 2018)

In the drawer of the desk I have used for decades there is a notebook wrapped in brown paper, which I started in 1964 when I was 10, and had filled by 1974. It contains a year-by-year list of the books I read, almost all of which I borrowed from libraries in the south London suburbs, which I’d cycle to every afternoon after school.

My eldest son was amazed when I showed it to him, and he even turned the pages for a few minutes. “You were 11 years old and you read 86 books in one year!” Yes; I began with Biggles, Enid Blyton, Arthur Ransome and the autobiographies of footballers and cricketers. In the middle I read Nevil Shute, Nicholas Monsarrat, Len Deighton and Erskine Caldwell, writers pretty much forgotten now, as most of us will be. But in 1974, I’m relieved to see that I go out on a high, with Marcel Proust, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Friedrich Nietzsche.  

I was thrilled to have impressed my son at last. Then he added: “But I guess there was nothing else to do in the evenings.”

He was right about that. Yet out of the interminable zombie boredom and restlessness of Bromley – a commuter town placed between the city and the Kent countryside – a lot happened while nothing appeared to be happening. Much of this went into my first novel The Buddha of Suburbia, which, despite the dour reality, I managed to make into a comedy about being mixed-race in Britain during the punk era.


(Courtesy of The Guardian)

Read the full interview on The Guardian website


Previous Posts:

Karl Ove Knausgaard on why contemporary fiction is over-rated. Here he is interviewed by Andrew Anthony (11 Feb 2018).

Read the full interview on The Guardian website.

J.M. Coetzee’s “Lies: A Short Story” (December 2017). Read the full story on The New York Review of Books website.

J.M. Coetzee’s “The Dog” (December 2017). Read the full story on The New Yorker website.

Will Self on whether we are switching from books to digital entertainment because of a change in our need to communicate (25 Nov 2017).

Read the full article on The Guardian website.

DLDon DeLillio on how his vast novel, Underworld, grew from modest plans. Interviewed by Tim Cooke (10 Jun 2016).

Read the full interview on The Guardian website.


DoctorowDoctorow on the surveillance state, Edward Snowden, and the core values of a utopian society. Interviewed by Simon Willmetts (6 Feb 2016).

Read the full interview on the Jacobin magazine website