Hanif Kureishi

Playwright, screenwriter, novelist and film-maker Hanif Kureishi was born in London in 1954 and read Philosophy at King’s College, London.

His first play, Soaking The Heat, was produced at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in 1976 and his second, The King And Me, was produced at the Soho Poly in January 1979. His first full-length stage play, The Mother Country, (presented in the Riverside’s Plays Umbrella season in July 1980) won him the Thames Television Award for 1980. In 1981 he became Writer-in-Residence at the Royal Court and in June won the George Devine Award for his next play, Outskirts, presented at the Warehouse, shortly followed by a production at the Soho Poly of the one-act play, Tomorrow Today.

Borderline was commissioned by the Joint Stock Company and opened at the Royal Court Theatre in November 1981, and won him both the Thames Television Bursary and Drama Magazine’s Award for Most Promising New Playwright. He also co-adapted, with Danny Boyle, Janusz Glowacki’s play, Cinders, for the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs Christmas 1981 production. With the director, David Leveaux, he translated and adapted a new version of Ostrovsky’s Artists and Admirers which was presented at the Riverside Studios in June 1982. His new adaptation for radio of Kafka’s The Trial was first transmitted in October of the same year and repeated in July 1983.
His stage play, Birds of Passage, opened in Hampstead Theatre in September 1983, and was directed by Howard Davies who also directed his version of Mother Courage (starring Judi Dench) which played to full houses during its limited season at the Barbican at the end of 1984. His radio play You Can’t Go Home was broadcast in that year.

In 1984 he wrote the screenplay My Beautiful Launderette, which was made into a film by Stephen Frears and for which he received an Oscar nomination as well as numerous other awards. Two more films followed: Sammy And Rosie Get Laid and London Kills Me, which he also directed. In 2013, Le Week-End, his British drama film directed with Roger Michell was screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

His first novel, The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) won the Whitbread First Novel Award (now the Costa Book Awards) and was televised by the BBC. This was followed by The Black Album (1995), Intimacy (1998), filmed by Patrice Chereau, winning two Golden Bears at Berlin, and two collections of short stories, Love In A Blue Time (1997) and Midnight All Day (1999). The story My Son The Fanatic from Love In A Blue Time was made into a film by the BBC in 1998, and in 1999 a new play, Sleep With Me, was staged at the National Theatre. Gabriel’s Gift, his fourth novel, was published in 2001. Dreaming and Scheming, a collection of essays, and The Body, a volume of short stories, were published in 2002. His play When The Night Begins opened at Hampstead Theatre that year, followed by other productions. My Ear At His Heart, a memoir about his father, was published in 2004, winning numerous awards, followed by a book of essays, The Word And The Bomb, published in 2005.

A film of his screenplay, The Mother, directed by Robert Michell, was released in 2003. His story Weddings and Beheadings was made into a short film and will be shown on Channel 4. The film Venus, directed by Roger Michell, won Peter O’Toole a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. His latest novel, Something To Tell You, was published in 2008. His 1989 novel The Black Album, adapted for the theatre, was performed at the National Theatre in July and August 2009.

Hanif Kureishi’s work has been translated into 36 languages. He is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Kingston. He has been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, a CBE for services to literature and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.