Hanif Kureishi finally allowed to leave Italy after horror fall
21st June 2023

My Beautiful Laundrette writer Hanif Kureishi, 68, reveals he’s finally returned to London after horror Boxing Day fall in Italy that left him ‘face to face with death’

  • Mr Kureishi fell at apartment in Rome on Boxing Day and woke in pool of blood
  • Read more: Dog owner issues warning after her beloved pet was left ‘fighting for her life’ when she contracted a highly contagious virus on a walk

Author Hanif Kureishi has finally been allowed to make the journey back to the UK after spending six months recuperating from a life-changing fall in Rome on Boxing Day.

The British playwright, novelist and filmmaker, 68, who is best known for The Buddha Of Suburbia, Intimacy and My Beautiful Launderette, fell during a walk while staying at his apartment in Rome, leaving him partially paralyzed. 

Previously too unwell to return to his London home, Kureishi told his Twitter followers this week he’s on his way back to the UK, sharing a photo of himself in a wheelchair with staff at the hospital where he’s been treated. 

He posted: ‘I will be returning to London after six months of hospitalization in Rome at the @SantaLuciaRCCS’, adding that he was ‘grateful’ to Italy’s national healthcare system for the free care he had received, and thanking staff for their kindness.

The novelist, 68, pictured this week with those who’ve helped him to recover from the accident that left him in a Rome hospital for six months

Mr Kureishi was in Rome on December 26 when he fell during a walk from Piazza del Popolo to Villa Borghese and then back to his apartment. 

He said: ‘I had just seen Mo Salah score against Aston Villa, sipped half a beer, when I began to feel dizzy.’

Awaking in a pool of blood, with his neck in a ‘grotesquely twisted position’, he was left unable to use his arms and legs. 

Mr Kureishi said afterwards that his partner, Isabella d’Amico, had heard his ‘frantic shouting’, adding: ‘She saved my life and kept me calm.

‘For a few days I was profoundly traumatised, altered and unrecognisable to myself.’

He told BBC Radio 4 in January that the accident left him ‘face to face’ with death and that the early days of his recovery had left him despairing at losing his old life. 

He said: ‘I was quite healthy for most of my life before this. I had one or two illnesses here and there and I considered myself healthy. 

The British playwright, novelist and filmmaker, 68, told his followers on Twitter that he has been told he can’t yet leave the Rome hospital where he’s been for six weeks after he was left in a ‘pool of blood’ while out walking in the Italian capital (Pictured in Rome in 2017)

‘Now, when I sit outside in the garden here I see people walking around, I can’t believe they’re walking around. I want to say to them ‘”don’t you know it’s amazing you can walk around, you can use your arms and legs”.’

He described being in hospital as if ‘I have been plucked off the street by four anonymous policemen and been taken to a strange school, an irrational persecutory alternate universe. I have to find a way to survive, like we all did when we were children.’ 

Kureishi is known for tackling difficult subjects including the complexity of relationships and the marginalisation of minority groups.

In 1985 he was commissioned by Channel 4 to write a play, which resulted in My Beautiful Laundrette, a film about a gay British Pakistani youth in 1980s London.

The film, directed by Stephen Frears, won the New York City Film Critics best screenplay award and received an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay.

Kureishi’s other screenplays include Sammy And Rosie Get Laid, London Kills Me, The Mother and Venus.

In 1990, Kureishi published one of his most famous works, The Buddha Of Suburbia, which won the Whitbread Award for the best first novel and was later adapted for a BBC television series with a soundtrack by David Bowie

Author of The Buddha of Suburbia Hanif Kureishi (pictured), 68, is still in hospital and is unable to move his arms or legs following the fall on Boxing Day

Works: My Beautiful Laundrette, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, was released in 1985. Right: The Buddha of Suburbia television series from 1995 starring (pictured left to right) Naveen Andrews, Roshan Seth and Susan Fleetwood


British playwright novelist and filmmaker, Hanif Kureishi is best known for The Buddha Of Suburbia (pictured), Intimacy and Mother

Mr Kureishi (pictured) is known for tackling difficult subjects including the complexity of relationships and the marginalisation of minority groups

The novel follows a bisexual British South Asian character called Karim Amir as he explores class, ethnicity, sexuality and culture in late 20th-century London.

The book is semi-autobiographical and draws on a number of Kureishi’s own experiences growing up in London.

Kureishi’s second novel, The Black Album, was published in 1995 and deals with Islamic fundamentalism and freedom of speech, and was adapted for the stage in 2009.

His third novel, Intimacy, came in 1998 and follows the story of a man contemplating leaving his wife and children after feeling rejected by his wife.

He was made a CBE in 2008 and sold his archive to the British Library in 2014, which included personal diaries and notebooks, and also the working material for his major works.

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