REVIEW: In the eighties, Hanif Kureishi rocked my middle class suburban teenage brain with two films, My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid. Kureishi was exploring race, sexuality, violence, gender, and religion in a contemporary urban setting using elements which shocked audiences (i.e., me) - casual violence, graphic sex, dark humour, unconventional romance, extreme views and conflict. Later, Kureishi would write the screenplay for a film, The Mother , which explored another taboo - the sexual life of a woman over fifty.
An award-winning novelist since his debut, The Buddha of Suburbia, Kureishi has continually pushed boundaries - most notably the boundary between fact and fiction. He has come in for criticism from friends and family members for his revelatory style. His novel, Intimacy, released in the middle of the book club craze, shocked women and angered men in its depiction of 'the way men really think'.
Now Kureishi gives us a new novel, The Nothing, told from the point of view of Waldo - a successful filmmaker who is in his diseased, near bedridden, declining years. It opens with us (the reader and Waldo) listening to sounds coming from the next room which might or might not be his wife having sex with his friend. Foul, grotesque, funny, shocking and bizarre, The Nothing is a comic riff by a writer who is, along with many of us, despairing at the current and very rapid rate of cultural decline.
Like nearly all of Hanif Kureishi's work, The Nothing will polarise opinion. But I think that's the point.