Hanif Kureishi is Inspiring Optimism — From a Hospital Bed

The British Pakistani writer of ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’ fame became paralyzed in 2022. His Twitter dispatches are now a symbol of hope.

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Hanif Kureishi attends a photocall during the Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 22, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images)

Sadaf Ahsan


May 10, 2023

In the first of many casual and yet beautiful missives from his hospital bed, just before noon on January 6, 2023, Hanif Kureishi tweeted: “Dear followers, I should like you to know that on Boxing Day, in Rome, after taking a comfortable walk...I had a fall...It occurred to me then that there was no coordination between what was left of my mind and what remained of my body. I had become divorced from myself. I believed I was dying. I believed I had three breaths left.”

Unable to move his arms and legs — much less the hands he’d used to pen nine novels, 11 screenplays, five essay and story collections, and more — Kureishi had become a stranger to himself overnight. In the days after his fall on December 26, 2022, the 68-year-old shared the trauma and the “humiliation” of no longer being able to scratch his nose or feed himself, and the fear of not being able to walk or hold a pen again.

But in the months that followed, Kureishi has remained every bit the writer, churning out commentary from his new medium of choice: Twitter. He’s written over 15,000 words, and nearly 2,000 blogs. Most are moving, many are hilarious, and like his writing over the years, touch on love and intimacy, but through a new lens, one that has swapped his usual confidence for a new anxiety. As his body has let him down, the artist has turned inward for hope, inspiring optimism for legions of readers — many of them newer, younger, and eager to see a light at the end of their respective tunnels.

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