The cultural collisions he [Powell] was afraid of are the affirmative side of globalisation. People do not love one another because they are ‘the same’, and they don’t always kill one another because they are different. Where indeed, does difference begin? Why would it begin with race or colour?
Racism is the lowest form of snobbery. Its language mutates: not long ago the word ‘immigrant’ became an insult, a stand-in for ‘Paki’ or ‘nigger’. We remain an obstruction to ‘unity’, and people like Powell, men of ressentiment, with their omens and desire to humiliate , will return repeatedly to divide and create difference. The neo-liberal experiment that began in the eighties uses racism as a vicious entertainment, as a sideshow, while the wealthy continue to accumulate. But we are all migrants from somewhere, and if we remember that, we could all go somewhere — together. ( p.166-7)
Hanif Kureishi’s latest book Love + Hate is a wonderful blend of essays, commentaries and some fiction. It marks a period of time wafting in and out of his life. The theme of the immigrant that is evident through much of his writing is noticeable here too. The publication of Love + Hate takes significant proportions given the media coverage about refugees fleeing conflict zones, economic crisis globally and the astounding reaction to this humanitarian crisis by some nation states. The concluding essay, “A Theft: My Con Man” is a deeply personal one. It is an account of Hanif Kureishi’s life savings being stolen by a con artist. I still remember the number of Facebook posts he posted the day he discovered the theft. Naturally he was distressed at discovering the loss. But this essay is a little calmer than the facebook posts since it was written a little later, when the author had had time to reflect, but it does not take anything away from the shockingly painful experience.
Read this anthology. It is an excellent commentary and a sobering reminder on what we are witnessing today has happened before. The horror is no less.
Hanif Kureishi Love + Hate: Stories and Essays Faber & Faber, London, 2015. Pb. pp. 220 Rs 799
8 October 2015