“I admire love, but it is a real inconvenience”

Hanif Qureshi approaches from his home in London and a crimson damask wall with ceiling-high bookshelves appears on the screen. It is not noon, but there is a charming dusk, a word he particularly likes. The writer greets and exclaims “but how many people are here!”. Instantly, Valentino’s communications managers turn off their cameras; arranged this interview for me on the occasion of the writer’s collaboration on an unusual campaign for a fashion house. Stories II is the title of this initiative by Pierpaolo Piccoli, in which for the second year he organizes a campaign without images, only with words. These from 17 international writers whose phrases about love make up posters with colorful graphics.

Kureishi moved out of the suburbs years ago, but retains the wayward air of a man who dealt with crooks and gigolos before publishers. the author of Buddha from the suburbs, my beautiful laundry or privacy He cut his teeth in the counterculture clubs of London in the 1970s, where he attended the same school as Bowie and witnessed the explosion of punk. He seems never tired of being asked about that time and is convinced that, unlike the hippies, punk was a proletarian movement.

Valentino’s campaign features famous lyrics from 17 authors

courtesy of the company

It’s surprising to see his name in a fashion brand campaign. What kind of relationship did you have with her?

When I was a teenager I loved fashion, but I don’t care that much anymore because no one looks at me… and I definitely don’t look at me. My first novel, Buddha of the Suburbs, is full of leather pants and hairdos and so on, because when I was young you had to belong to an urban tribe. You know, you were a mod or a rocker or a hippie or a skinhead… In the suburbs we didn’t have a lot of money but everyone had their own style and when we went to the King’s Road on Saturday we were very aware of what people were wearing, it was like a catwalk .

Every night when you watch Netflix or Amazon… those shows were written by some poor devil in his bedroom in his underpants.”

Valentino’s campaign, instead of showing photos of his clothes, shows texts of writers. what do you think about her

I’m excited to collaborate with Valentino if it means a book means something to someone. When I was a child I loved to read and books changed my life. I hope young people will come to my books. The center of culture is literature and I am proud to be a part of it. If you think about it, every night when you watch Netflix or Amazon… these series are written by some poor devil in his bedroom in his underwear. We continue to live in a written culture, even though we don’t recognize it.

The colorful facade of Greedy Reads with the signs

The colorful facade of Greedy Reads with the signs

courtesy of the company

Have you met the Valentino team yet?

No, I didn’t know anyone from Valentino. They contacted me to ask if they could use texts from my novels Intimacy and Buddha of the Suburbs, and the truth is, the work was great: I get paid and I don’t have to do anything. It suits my character.


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His family comes from Pakistan and his literature has been described as “post-colonial”. What is the relationship between your background and your aesthetic and literary experience?

If you’re lucky, you can turn complicated experiences into interesting lessons. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s as part of a racial minority, as well as being a mixed-race child, was a real challenge. But it made me think about empire, race, multiculturalism… and I ended up writing My Beautiful Washing Machine, which was a worldwide hit and made a lot of money. I came to the conclusion that being mixed race wasn’t so bad because it gave me the opportunity to write about something that hadn’t been written about before. What we now call “multiculturalism” was beginning to emerge in some parts of Europe; it was a new phenomenon and needed its own artists and writers. This is how minority literature appeared. Fashion, like literature, comes from outside: from the suburbs, from poor people…

At my age, I’m interested in what other people wear, but I gave up trying to look more attractive a long time ago.”

Do you know Valentino’s lines?

No, I’ve never seen them. But I was on the catwalk once: I’m a good friend of Paul Smith and he made me walk the catwalk. What a shame. At my age, I’m interested in what other people wear, but I’ve long since given up trying to look more attractive.

Why do you think Piccioli started this conversation about love?

I find it amazing that people are optimistic about love because falling in love is a terrible thing. There are so few people you fall in love with all your life… I still admire love, but it’s a real nuisance.

Valentino Narratives is a project of Belletrist and Penguin Random House, featuring proofreading of the latest works by CJ Hauser, Leila Mottley, and Emily St.  John Mandel

Valentino Narratives is a project of Belletrist and Penguin Random House, featuring proofreading of the latest works by CJ Hauser, Leila Mottley, and Emily St. John Mandel

courtesy of the company

What are your current goals?

You see, I woke up early this morning and started writing. I’m working with one of my sons on a movie called The Driver. The writing is a real pleasure, but very difficult, so my desire right now is to get to the end of this damn movie.

Have you ever researched the symbolic language of fashion?

I don’t even know what the symbolism of fashion is! It’s funny, the high status people I know wear crappy clothes. It’s interesting: in England, if you’re a man and you have money, you’re so sure of your place in the world that you don’t care about your appearance.

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