Hanif Kureishi says he wants to help disabled writers following his fall

British author and playwright Hanif Kureishi has said he is interested in trying to help disabled writers after he was left paralysed after a fall on Boxing Day in 2022.

The 69-year-old writer said he is getting “used to the fact that I’m a disabled person now”, adding that the “losses are abominable”.

Speaking to The Telegraph, he said: “When I start to feel stronger, I would be interested in trying to help disabled writers.

“But rarely do you hear people talking about disabled writers, so if there’s anything I can do in the future, to help them, in terms of equipment or agents, I would like to get involved with that.”

Asked if he would support the idea of the lead roles in My Beautiful Laundrette, currently playing at The National Theatre, going to disabled actors, Kureishi said: “It’s not something I would have thought of before my accident – you never notice these things.

“But that would interest me now – in fact, I would be thrilled by that.”

Speaking further on his disability, he said: “You see the world as being a much more perilous place than you saw it as before – you realise how frail the human condition is.

“It’s a mercy that the worst of it is over”, he added.

“I’ve just got to get used to the fact that I’m a disabled person now.

Letters Live series – London
Hanif Kureishi performs Letter from James Baldwin during the fourth night of the Letters Live series at the Freemason’s Hall, London (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The Bromley-born writer has documented his experience following the fall in a series of dispatches on Substack called The Kureishi Chronicles.

Speaking to The Telegraph about what happened that fateful day, he said: “I was sitting in Isabella’s (his partner’s) apartment, and felt faint.

“I put my head between my legs, and then passed out.

“Apparently when I passed out I stood up and took a couple of steps, and fell flat on my face.

“I was on the floor in a pool of blood, paralysed. Isabella was with me, and I thought I was going to die.

“I thought: ‘I’ve got four or five breaths left. It’s all over for me.’”

Discussing his physical state at the moment, he said: “I’m feeling a bit stronger in my shoulders, my arms, and my legs. But I can’t grip anything.

Royal Investitures
Novelist Hanif Kureishi is made a CBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace for services to literature and drama (Martin Keene/PA)

“I’m hoping something might come back but the hands are apparently the last thing to come back.”

He added: “The doctors will never make a prediction but they will say people continue to improve if they do physio and exercises – you’re not going to deteriorate, at least.”

The screen writer was nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay in 1987 for the film My Beautiful Laundrette.

His debut 1990 novel The Buddha Of Suburbia won him a Whitbread Award (now known as the Costa Book Awards) for best first novel that year, and it was later adapted for a BBC television series with a soundtrack by David Bowie.

In 2008 he was made a CBE for services to literature and drama and his second novel, The Black Album, was adapted for the stage in 2009.

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