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


9 min

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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