The Nothing is Hanif Kureishi's powerful new work: a tense and captivating exploration of lust, helplessness, and deception.
One night, when I am old, sick, right out of semen, and don't need things to get any worse, I hear the noises growing louder. I am sure they are making love in Zenab's bedroom which is next to mine.
Waldo, a feted filmmaker, is confined by old age and ill health to his London apartment. Frail and frustrated, he is cared for by his lovely younger wife, Zee. But when he suspects that Zee is beginning an affair with Eddie, 'more than an acquaintance and less than a friend for over thirty years,' Waldo is pressed to action: determined to expose the couple, he sets himself first to prove his suspicions correct - and then to enact his revenge.
Written with characteristic black humour and with an acute eye for detail, Kureishi's eagerly awaited novella will have his readers dazzled once again by a brilliant mind at work.
Review by John Purcell
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.
About the Author
Hanif Kureishi grew up in Kent and studied philosophy at King's College London. His novels include The Buddha of Suburbia, which won the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel, The Black Album, Intimacy, and The Last Word. His screenplays include My Beautiful Laundrette, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid and Le Week-End. He has also published several collections of short stories .Kureishi has been awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the PEN/Pinter Prize, and is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. His work has been translated into thirty-six languages. He is professor of Creative Writing at Kingston University.
"Kureishi rises fiendishly to the challenge of creating disagreeable characters, and true to form indulges in bald, unrelenting talk of sex acts and sex organs. There's a bit of tormented Hamlet in Waldo ... in this wicked little revenge tale. "
"One wickedly seductive gut-punch of a book. "--Boston Globe