Typescript draft of The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi


This is an early draft of The Black Album, the second novel of the playwright, screenwriter, and author, Hanif Kureishi. The draft is word-processed, with Kureishi's handwritten corrections and additions.

Set in 1989 (though published in 1995), the novel is situated in the year that a fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie by Ayatollah Khomeini, Supreme Leader of Iran. The fatwa was triggered by Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, which was condemned by the Ayatollah as blasphemous. Commenting on this, Kureishi later described the fatwa as ‘one of the most significant events in post-war literary history’. In The Black Album, Kureishi cautiously weaves this event into the conflicts and tensions that shape this novel’s narrative.

The novel’s protagonist, Shahid Hassan – a British Muslim of Pakistani descent – is caught between various identities and ideologies. The fundamentalist and liberal binary is, in part, realised in his dual allegiance to two mentors: one, the leader of a group of Muslim students at his college who offers him insights into Islamic tradition and community; the other, his cultural studies tutor with whom he explores modern philosophy and pop culture, and experiments with drugs and sex. Sharing its name with Prince’s 1994 album, The Black Album, the novel directly engages with this enigmatic icon as a means of exploring and celebrating hybrid identity. Explaining Prince’s appeal, Shahid’s tutor says: ‘He's half black and half white, half man, half woman, half size, feminine but macho, too’.

Full title:
Hanif Kureishi Papers: The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi, draft of novel: April 1993
April 1993
Manuscript / Typescript / Draft
Hanif Kureishi
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© Hanif Kureishi. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.

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British Library
Add MS 89091/10/1

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The Black Album

Created by: Hanif Kureishi

The Black Album is the second novel by the playwright, screenwriter, and author, Hanif Kureishi. Set in 1989 (though ...