'I believed I was dying': Novelist Hanif Kureishi in hospital unable to move arms or legs after fall

6 January 2023, 21:27 | Updated: 7 January 2023, 02:44

British novelist and playwright Hanif Kureishi has said he is in hospital and can't feel his arms or legs following a fall in Rome.
British novelist and playwright Hanif Kureishi has said he is in hospital and can't feel his arms or legs following a fall in Rome. Picture: Getty

By Chris Samuel

British novelist and playwright Hanif Kureishi has said he is in hospital and can't feel his arms or legs following a fall in Rome.

Mr Kureishi The Buddha Of Suburbia, wrote on Twitter he is being treated at the Gemelli University Hospital in the Italian capital.

The 68-year-old explained that he was in Rome on Boxing Day, and fell after a walk to the Piazza del Popolo to the Villa Borghese, and then back to his flat.

Mr Kureishi said: "I had just seen Mo Salah score against Aston Villa, sipped half a beer, when I began to feel dizzy.

"I lent forward and put my head between my legs; I woke up a few minutes later in a pool of blood, my neck in a grotesquely twisted position, my wife on her knees beside me."

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The celebrated writer said he then "experienced what can only be described a scooped, semicircular object with talons attached scuttling towards me" before realising it was his hand," adding: "It occurred to me then that there was no co-ordination between what was left of my mind and what remained of my body.

Hanif Kureishi at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 22, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Hanif Kureishi attends a photocall at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 22, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture: Getty

"I had become divorced from myself. I believed I was dying. I believed I had three breaths left."

He said his wife heard his "frantic shouting" from the floor and that she saved his life and kept him clam.

"For a few days I was profoundly traumatised, altered and unrecognisable to myself. I am in the hospital. I cannot move my arms and legs."

Mr Kureishi poses for a portrait during 'Incroci di Civilta' the Venice Literary Festival on March 28, 2015 in Venice, Italy.
Mr Kureishi poses for a portrait during 'Incroci di Civilta' the Venice Literary Festival on March 28, 2015 in Venice, Italy. Picture: Getty

He added: "I cannot scratch my nose, make a phone call or feed myself. As you can imagine, this is both humiliating, degrading and a burden for others.

"I've had an operation on my spine and have shown minor improvements in the last few days."

The award-winning dramatist said he has "sensation and some movement" and will soon start physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

"At the moment, it is unclear whether I will ever be able to walk again, or whether I'll ever be able to hold a pen, if there is any assistance that I would be grateful for, it would be with regard to voice assisted hardware and software, which will allow me to watch, write -and begin work again, and continue some kind of half life," he said.

Mr Kureishi won critical acclaim and a New York City Film Critics Circle Award for his screenplay of My Beautiful Laundrette, a Stephen Frears directed film about a gay British Pakistani in the 1980s, which also brought him an Oscar nomination for original screenplay.

His novel, The Buddha Of Suburbia, a semi-autobiographical story about a bisexual British South Asian character living the the suburbs of south London was adapted for a four-part BBC TV series.

Mr Kureishi was made a CBE 2008 for his services to literature and drama.

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