The wider public got their first taste of him with the mid- 8()s screenplays for My [Marti/ill [mun/rem and Sammy and Rosie (iet Laid. a pair of yisceral attacks on 'I’hatcher's Britain. laden with pop references and populated by characters whose complexity was informed by dual identities. Soon he was hailed as the authentic yoice for British Asians. The early 90s noycls T/H‘ Btu/(Illa of'Su/nu'biu and The Black Album maintained this momentum and with his friend Salman Rushdie dodging the executioner‘s shadow. he felt it was appropriate to discuss and write about the ‘f‘ word.

l’undamentalists are Kureishi's real enemy. Though he cites American (‘hristians and Jewish groups. when he talks about fundamentalists. he really means the more committed proponents of hardline Islam.

limdamentalists are people who have made up their

minds whereas I‘m in a permanent liberal flap about things.~ he says. ‘So. you write books out of curiosity or to find out

what you think whereas fundamentalists have the answers to everything because there are rules. But to me. the only interesting thing about existence is that you don‘t know. You wouldn‘t want to haye a conyersation with someone if you knew exactly what they were going to say. There has to be some sense of surprise.‘

What perhaps surprises Kureishi the most about the cultural landscape he thrives in is the antipathy that reigns around him. "fhe linglish just don‘t like culture. they have no interest in it: they hate it in fact. Have you seen a more ignorant bunch than the royal family'.’ People think that you’re being snobby or you're showing off or being pretentious if you‘re interested in culture. But then the linglish like horses.‘

The Body is published by Faber, Mon 4 Nov, £12.99. Hanif Kureishi reads in a Waterstone’s event at Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, Thu 7 Nov, 7pm, £4 (£3).

Left to right: Intimacy, London Kills Me, My Son the Fanatic, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, The Escort and director Stephen Frears and Kureishi on the set of My Beautiful Laundrette

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