“The world seems much darker."
Hanif Kureishi says the accident he suffered in Italy in 2022 has “completely eradicated” his sense of privacy.
He suffered a fall in Rome, leaving him without the use of his hands and legs.
The author appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on December 26, 2023, and recalled his thoughts while waiting for an ambulance.
Kureishi told interviewer Mishal Husain:
“I thought, as I guess many people do when they die, that ‘this is ridiculous to die in such a stupid way’.
“Surely I could do something a bit more dramatic, a bit more interesting to tell people.”
Kureishi spent the last year in five different hospitals across Italy before returning to the UK.
Over that time, he met others whose lives had been affected by freak accidents.
Kureishi continued: “It’s very common, with these kinds of circumstances, [to feel] that you’ve been plucked out of the world at random and punished in some kind of Kafkaesque way.
“But then you get a much broader sense that this happens all the time to people.”
On how the accident changed him, Hanif Kureishi said:
“The world seems much darker.
“And you look at all those innocent people strolling around the world looking so healthy and fit and happy and you think: ‘You don’t know guv, what’s coming down the road.’
“And that’s a very cruel and cynical way of seeing things, but you’ve gone through a door when you have an accident in the way that I had an accident.”
In the aftermath, Salman Rushdie – who lost vision in one eye after an on-stage stabbing attack in 2022 – shared his wishes for Kureishi, describing him as “the younger brother I never had”.
The Midnight’s Children author said:
“I’m here for him always, as he always has been there for me.
“Hopefully, he will be his outrageous, mischievous self again soon.
“I’m here for him always, as he always has been there for me. Hopefully, he will be his outrageous, mischievous self again soon.”
The accident changed many things about Kureishi’s life.
“I can’t even make a cup of tea. I can’t scratch my nose. So I’ve had to learn to make demands. I’m a reluctant dictator.”
“There are friends and acquaintances who have been absolutely devoted – people you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of as being particularly like that.”
A week after the accident, Hanif Kureishi started documenting his recovery from his hospital bed in Italy.
Since then, nearly 18,000 readers have subscribed to his Substack channel for his writings on “my new immobilised predicament” as well as “sex and drugs and music, TV shows and writers I admire, and my memories”.
But the accident has dramatically altered his writing process, leaving Kureishi to “find a completely new way to write”.
Kureishi has learned to visualise what he will write in his head before repeating it “as legibly and coherently” to his son Carlo, who transcribes each blog post.
These weekly posts have helped rejuvenate Kureishi’s relationship with his readers.
He explained: “I communicate with other people, and I try and remember that what’s happened to me is not so uncommon.
“You realise that every family in the world has experienced death or illness or disability in some form or another and that they will.
“And so they tell their stories and they’re about brain injuries, physical injuries, which are very moving and upsetting and interesting, and many of them are much worse than mine.”
The author returned home before Christmas Day and his blog, The Kureishi Chronicles, is set to be turned into a memoir titled Shattered.