Weddings and Beheadings
May 8, 2007 2:05 AM   Subscribe

"Brutal, insensitive, and not illuminating" is how Kate Crisholm (writing in the Spectator) justifies the decision by Radio Four to cut Hanif Kureishi's short story Weddings and Beheadings from the National Short Story Competition.
posted by three blind mice (26 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sorry. Kate Chisholm.
posted by three blind mice at 2:06 AM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

"I better go now. Someone is at the door."

posted by lemonfridge at 3:34 AM on May 8, 2007

You know there's something wrong with a story if it's "shocking" and only 1,000 words and you still wind up skimming halfway through. The dude ain't no Shirley Jackson.

On the other hand, not reading the story with the others is LAME. I guess the censorship accusation will teach them to just go ahead and discriminate against such stories in advance to prevent this kind of situation!
posted by hermitosis at 3:47 AM on May 8, 2007

That ain't the right Kate Chisholm in your link - see here.
posted by Mocata at 4:09 AM on May 8, 2007

What she doesn't mention is that the short story was taken from a short film of the same name written by Kureishi and shown on C4 in January. I'm not suggesting that writing his film script up as short story shouldn't be allowed, but having had it broadcast on a national terrestrial TV channel the cries of censorship sould a little weak.

And it was rubbish.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:22 AM on May 8, 2007

That ain't the right Kate Chisholm in your link

Thanks for the correction Mocata. Well done.
posted by three blind mice at 4:38 AM on May 8, 2007

There's far too little recognition of short-story writing in this country for me to feel that it's anything but sensible to disqualify a retread of a TV drama. Keep the competition for original writing.
posted by WPW at 4:43 AM on May 8, 2007

FYI for future writeups: The first time I read this I thought you were saying the decision to cut was "brutal, insensitive, and not illuminating". The second time, I thought it was the story itself, which was the reason it was cut.
posted by DU at 5:06 AM on May 8, 2007

Hanif Kureishi’s story should have been censored for sucking. Unless I missed something in the article and the National Short Story Competition is for fourth graders.

Honestly, am I missing something here? Content aside, (which incidentally I didn’t find even provocative let alone brutal and insensitive) I don’t know how something so poorly crafted could have made the final four list anywhere, let alone the UK. But I do know the answer must be out there. You could find it on the internet, right now, if you really wanted to. If you could bear to look.
posted by BostonJake at 5:07 AM on May 8, 2007

The first time I read this I thought you were saying the decision to cut was "brutal, insensitive, and not illuminating". The second time, I thought it was the story itself, which was the reason it was cut.

English is my mother tongue, DU, but I don't use it as often as I used to. One problem with acquiring different languages is that I don't speak any of them very well. English lest of all it seems. Still, I think the FPP is unambiguous. I'll try to do better.

posted by three blind mice at 5:43 AM on May 8, 2007

No problems with English usage in this FPP. "'X' is how Y. . ." is a correct and unambiguous construction. Trust me, I'm an MFA.

There are however, syntactical/grammatical problems in the linked story, which also sucks. As does your favorite national literary arts competition. (In all seriousness--this story lacks a believable voice, and, well, a "story." I'm amazed it was shortlisted.)
posted by flotson at 6:34 AM on May 8, 2007

MetaFilter: Trust me, I'm an MFA.
posted by jimmythefish at 6:48 AM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Brutal and insensitive"--I disagree. It's actually a really interesting premise for a story and could be a fascinating character.

"Not illuminating"--correct. It's hard to imagine a worse, um, execution of said interesting premise. Why is it in the first person? Granted that the first person almost always requires some suspension of disbelief, the question "who's he talking to?" glares especially brightly here, because the narrative frame of the story consists of exactly two sentences. Why even bother to frame it?

I would also like to assert that no actual human being has ever uttered the sentence "Don’t you guys love prizes and statuettes and stuff?" in any language.
posted by staggernation at 7:06 AM on May 8, 2007

Sorry! It's four sentences. I now love the story.
posted by staggernation at 7:14 AM on May 8, 2007

Hey! They didn't read my story either! Censorship!

Seriously, though. In neither the U.S. nor U.K. is there any inalienable right to be broadcast. The programmer made his programming decisions, and if this truly god-awful writer doesn't like it, he can start up his own station, or go and get booed out of coffeehouses, or whatever. No one is using the law to repress his work though. They'd just rather not read it on their air. That, actually, is freedom of speech.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:28 AM on May 8, 2007

I bet robocop is bleeding could think of a better story in five minutes...
(Hopes against hope the legend will enter this thread.)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 7:46 AM on May 8, 2007

The quality (or lack of) though has nothing to do with why this wasn't broadcast. C4 says it was due to sensitivity about the kidnapped BBC journalist in Gaza, similar to when they didn't broadcast the film The Mark of Cain due to the hostages in Iran.

I think both excuses are BS and have much more to do with broadcasters pandering to the government (though not in the way Mr Kureishi thinks), but whatever reasons it wasn't becuase it was in anyones opinion a crappy story.
posted by ciderwoman at 7:48 AM on May 8, 2007

it's a confession, not a story ... and he actually manages to make it sound boring, which perhaps is the point, but doesn't make it a better piece

he's just coasting on a controversial subject here ... and doesn't even manage to describe the scene with any words that actually put you there ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:50 AM on May 8, 2007

I am just amazed that that turd made the short list. Is that really the 5th best short story in the UK? Ugh.

*moves to England to dominate lucrative short story racket*
posted by Mister_A at 8:14 AM on May 8, 2007

It's because he has an exotic-sounding name. Think: Vikram Seth, Rohinton Mistry, Yann Martel. If this dude's name was Duane Edwards he'd be an artist alright, but it'd be of the sandwich variety.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:23 AM on May 8, 2007

doun't fourget, mister_A, that they put louts of extra u's in wourds after o's ... and spell outher wourds funny, like gaol, gaowalking, blue gaos, centre, pitchre, outre, inspectre, and sou oun and sou fourth
posted by pyramid termite at 8:26 AM on May 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

I don't think it's just because "he has an exotic-sounding name." Kureishi's fairly well-known - his reputation founded on My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid - and he's had approximately one book or movie a year come out since the early 90's.
posted by jtron at 9:36 AM on May 8, 2007

Nope, it's the name. Trust me, I just ate a sandwich.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:53 AM on May 8, 2007

Agreeing with jtron: Kureishi is fairly well-known, at least in the UK. The Buddha of Suburbia and The Black Album are both pretty good novels, and the screenplays My Son the Fanatic and Venus should be mentioned, too. In short, don't let "Weddings and Beheadings" hide the fact that Kureishi is actually a pretty damn good writer. I think Kureishi's point, as mentioned above, isn't that the story is world-class; it's that because of the subject matter, someone somewhere thought the public was too delicate to risk hearing it.

Check out this interview he did on NPR last year regarding Muslim life in London for more insight.
posted by malaprohibita at 10:57 AM on May 8, 2007

Allen S:

If you have something to say about Shiv Sena, the BJP, the fallout of the Ayodhya incident or recent Hindu fundamentalism in general, please do so.

Otherwise follow your own advice and say nothing at all.
posted by bornjewish at 11:23 AM on May 8, 2007

Jeepers and Oops, wrong thread!
posted by bornjewish at 11:24 AM on May 8, 2007

« Older Damn the torpedoes...   |   Hindu case against 'obscene' Muslim artist fails Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments