My Son the Fanatic
My Son the Fanatic is a short story by the English author Hanif Kureishi that was first published in the New Yorker on March 28, 1994 . Kureishi added the short story to his short story collection Love in a Blue Time in 1997 . In the same year, a film version was made under the same title, for which Kureishi also wrote the script. The short story contains post-colonial elements and addresses the life and challenges of Muslims in Great Britain .
In the story, Kureishi addresses the conflict between a Pakistani father and his son who is marginalized from British society and who seeks connection in Islamic circles. She also addresses conflicts between religions, cultures and generations.
Parvez is a Pakistani taxi driver living in the UK. He has noticed his son Ali for some time because of his unusual behavior. Ali is tidier than usual and is parting with many belongings that used to be very important to him. He also breaks up with his English girlfriend and avoids talking to his father. Enraged by his son's sudden change, Parvez discusses the matter with his Pakistani work colleagues. They suspect that Ali is a drug addict and is selling his things to finance this addiction. Plagued by these thoughts, Parvez begins to watch his son carefully and finally finds out that Ali does not use drugs, but is a devout Muslim who conscientiously obeys Islamic rules. He abstains from alcohol and pork and prays five times a day. Initially hesitant, Parvez approaches his son and is promptly accused of being a man who follows a materialistic and sinful western lifestyle. In addition, he defends his Islamic values and threatens to join jihad . Ali also wants to drop out of college because he believes Western education systems promote anti-religious attitudes. Desperate Parvez sees his plans for Ali's future falling apart. His attempts to approach his son by growing a beard and avoiding alcohol also go unnoticed by Ali. The situation escalates when Ali verbally attacks Bettina, Parvez's girlfriend, who works as a prostitute, in his father's taxi. Ultimately, Parvez physically attacks his son under the influence of alcohol. The story ends with a reference to the title of the short story. “So who's the fanatic now?” Is the question Ali asks his father after his attack.
Reception of the short story
Kureishi's short story received renewed attention in connection with the July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks on the London Underground by four young Pakistani men. Ali from the short story "happens" to have clear similarities to the perpetrators. A discussion sparked complaining about a lack of intercultural understanding between different cultural and religious groups in Great Britain.
- My Son the Fanatic is part of the compulsory reading of the Baden-Württemberg, Lower Saxony and Saarland Abitur (2017) in English.
- My Son the Fanatic was made into a film by Udayan Prasad in 1997 .
- Hanif Kureishi: My Son the Fanatic in One Language-Many Voices. 20th Century English Short Stories . Braunschweig 2005. Diesterweg. Pp. 270-288.
- Helga Korff & Angela Ringel-Eichinger: Hanif Kureishi: My Son the Fanatic in One Language, Many Voices interpretation aids . Berlin 2006. Cornelsen. Pp. 163-174.
- My Son the Fanatic - Text of the first publication in The New Yorker on March 28, 1994
- "My Son the Fanatic" - Cinematic treatment of the short story (Youtube)