Kureishi was born in Kent and studied philosophy at King’s College. His 1984 screenplay for the film My Beautiful Laundrette was nominated for an Oscar and his short story ‘My Son the Fanatic’ was adapted for film in 1998. Kureishi’s screenplays for The Mother in 2003 and Venus (2006) were both directed by Roger Michell. The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) won the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel and was produced as a four-part drama for the BBC in 1993. His first collection of short stories, Love in a Blue Time, appeared in 1997, followed by Midnight All Day (1999) and The Body (2002). Kureishi was awarded the CBE for his services to literature and his works have been translated into 36 languages.
‘Hullaballoo in the Tree’ is a short story of Kureishi’s. Its main character is a man with Indian roots but living and raising his children in Britain. The story is set in and around a playground on a Sunday. There is one focus throughout, the perspective of the father, who makes an effort to raise his children in two different ways: western with freedom and the more eastern way with more explicit authority.
The main theme examined in the story is the way in which the main character attempts to raise his children in this duo-cultural fashion, revealing how two cultures contrast each other in their ideas about the raising of children. The story hinges upon an epiphanic realisation, where the father comes to the conclusion that, despite the traditional Indian authoritative way of raising children, he feels that it is more “true” to raise his children by setting an example of how one should act, and not by a strict system of rules. This element of the story enables Kureishi to examine the multiple ways in which a person of dual heritage may decide to live.
The story works well specifically in its representation of Anglo-Indian culture, because the two systems of parenting they propose are so different, creating a real sense of conflict between the two. Kureishi’s story also shows a development in the protagonist’s thoughts: at the beginning, he is upset by the disapproval of his Indian friend who criticises his method of upbringing, though by the end he sees this other man in light of his decision to raise his children in his own way, ignoring the criticism and opinion of his fellow Anglo-Indians.
Whilst you may not feel that you would be interested in stories concerned with the conflict between traditional Indian and British lifestyles, I can assure you that the stories written by Hanif Kureishi are interesting to read as fiction and as thought-provoking texts.