Comparison of Hanif Kureishi´s Short Story and Screenplay ' My Son the Fanatic '

Seminar Paper, 2004

20 Pages, Grade: 2,0




1. Background Information
1.1 Biography
1.2 Historical Overview
1.3 Summary Of The Short Story
1.4 Summary Of The Screenplay

2. Differences And Similarities And Why They Are Put In

3. Conclusion



In the summer - term last year I took the course: “Britain meets India in Contemporary Film and Literature”. It dealt with the works and films of well known writers such as Hanif Kureishi or Salman Rushdie. There were some discussions about the screenplay of “My Son the Fanatic” by Hanif Kureishi, that caught my attention. Besides the fact that the short story and the screenplay are both written by Kureishi, they are different from each other. I decided to take a closer look on both variants and to write a comparison, involving possible reasons for the differences and similarities.

Immigration to Great Britain has always been a topic for discussion, because Indian and Pakistani immigration and its people play a major role in Great Britain’s history and culture of today. For example, Indian restaurants could be found in almost every greater city. Very often engineering students at Britain’s Universities are of Indian or Pakistani origin.

Kureishi involves History, culture and everyday problems of “hybridity” in his works. The story of “My son the Fanatic” deals with a family whose son changes into a “radical”. From everyday life, one’s expectations are, that the parents stick to the old traditions and that the children try to escape that situation. In this story that expectation is turned upside down. The family’s son is the one who remembers the cultural and religious life of a Muslim Pakistani, whereas his father tries everything to adapt to Western living as best as he could. Unfortunately this leads to a complete break-up of the family. Comparing the short story to the screenplay opens up some interesting points of view and it could not be stated clearly, whether the changes are only temporal or a lifelong decision.

In the beginning, I will give a short Biography of Hanif Kureishi; secondly, I will give a short and condensed overview about Indian immigration history to Great Britain. In order to make the differences and similarities more clearly, I will give summaries of the short story and the screenplay. Following, I will compare the works and point out the changes and what reasons there might be for the changes - from my point of view. Finally I will draw a conclusion.

1.1 Biography

Hanif Kureishi was born on December 5th, 1954 in Bromley, England. Still young, he decided to become a writer and started to write novels. Very often the topics of his stories dealt with his experiences of being raised as a Pakistani boy in a Western surrounding. Culture Clash and “feeling in between” influenced his writing. He later studied philosophy at the University of London.

He then became writer in residence for the Royal Theatre. In 1976 his first play “Soaking Up the Heat”, was produced. In 1980, ”The Mother Country”, his second play, won the Thames Television Playwright Award.

A play about immigrants in London (“Borderline”) made him famous. Not very much later his play “Outskirts” was performed by London's Royal Shakespeare Company

In 1985 he wrote the screenplay for “My Beautiful Laundrette” with which he made his first successful steps in film business. The Movie won several awards. Five years later he wrote the screenplay for “Sammy and Rosie Get Laid”. In the same year he published his semi - autobiographical novel, “The Buddha of Suburbia”, which won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. Only one year later Kureishi made his directorial debut with “London Kills Me”. Here he focused on the world of drugs, gangs and homelessness.

Besides other works that he wrote during the years, involving topics such as interracial relations and problems, loneliness, young men of Pakistani origin, who have to choose between a white lover and Muslim friends, he also wrote “My Son the Fanatic”. This short story was published in a short story collection called “Love in a Blue Time” in 1997. In the following year he published his third novel, “Intimacy” and wrote the screenplay for “My Son the Fanatic”, based on the short story. 1999 his play “ Sleep with Me “ was produced at the Royal National Theatre. His second collection of short stories, “Midnight All Day ” was published the same year in Great Britain in November.[1]

1.2 Historical Overview

The relationship between Britain and India reaches back to the discoveries in the 16th century. India provided spices, dyes, and, textiles of a quality that could not be produced in Europe. The importing of oriental luxuries via newly discovered sea routes promised large profits.

For 250 years, this trade was organised by the East India Company - a private shared stock company registered in London.

In the 1750s trading interests changed into interests of territorial expansion. The Company transformed itself into a military power which brought most parts of India under its control. After a massive rebellion in 1857, the British government placed India under the direct control of the Crown and in 1858 Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India.

India soon turned into a source of cheap raw materials, such as cotton, jute, indigo and tea. The subcontinent was opened to international trade by steamship travel, the railways, the postal system and the telegraph.

Unfortunately Great Britain had problems to sustain the new colonial government with its railways, post offices and police stations so that Indians who spoke English and possessed modern skills, were soon made junior partners in some of the colonial businesses. The British government promoted Western education, promising full equality with the colonial rulers.

Many Indians responded enthusiastically to the opportunities of English education. However, the vast majority of the population remained illiterate. Racial equality was never established .

In 1885 the “All India National Congress” was founded, his leaders turned the Congress into an country-wide mass movement during war time. It proposed full independence for India. They tried to close the gap between the westernised elite, the peasantry and the emerging working class and between the different religious communities, castes and regional identities of India.[2]

India became independent when the British surrendered power in 1947. It was then decided to divide the subcontinent into a majority Hindu India and a majority Muslim Pakistan.[3]

More and more migrant workers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh came. when Britain experienced the post-war economic boom, which lasted up until the end of the 1970s.

In 1947 Nehru was elected prime minister of a self-governing India. People were encouraged by the government to go abroad to study. By the mid 1970s the attitude to migration softened and countries such as Pakistan built links with émigrés, allowing them dual nationality.

If people today choose to leave they could maintain their links with their country of origin, in order to encourage a flow of investment and ideas.[4]


[1] Information taken from: and

[2] Information taken from:

[3] s.a.

[4] Information taken from:

Excerpt out of 20 pages


Comparison of Hanif Kureishi´s Short Story and Screenplay ' My Son the Fanatic '
University of Potsdam  (Anglistik/Amerikanistik der Universität Potsdam)
Britain meets India in Contemporary Film and Literature
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ISBN (Book)
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Comparison, Hanif, Kureishi´s, Short, Story, Screenplay, Fanatic, Britain, India, Contemporary, Film, Literature
Quote paper
Tanja Schwebe (Author), 2004, Comparison of Hanif Kureishi´s Short Story and Screenplay ' My Son the Fanatic ', Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • guest on 9/19/2007

    Schon interessant.....

    .. zu sehen, wie unterschiedlich die verschiedenen Unis/Professoren bewerten.

    Außerdem werden hier unkorrigierte Arbeiten ins Netz gestellt? Finde ich angesichts der Tatsache dass man für´s Downloaden bezahlen muss schon dü ehrlich zu sein.

    "There were some discussions about the screenplay of “My Son the Fanatic” by Hanif Kureishi, that caught my attention."

    Unidiomatisch, Komma falsch, keine wirkliche Rechtfertigung des Themas, Schulaufsatz-Englisch. Sorry.

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