Hanif Kureishi has said his sense of self and privacy have been “completely eradicated” after a fall on Boxing Day in Rome last year.

The 69-year-old British author and playwright spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme as he guest edited the show on Tuesday, a year after sustaining life-changing injuries.

According to the programme, Kureishi is still unable to use his arms or legs and has spent the last year in five different hospitals.


Recording the show at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London, Kureishi said he feels like an “exhibit” being surrounded by doctors who see him as “a thing”.

He added: “It is humiliating at the start and then you begin to realise that it doesn’t really matter.

“You realise quite quickly that your body doesn’t belong to you any more… that you are changed, washed, poked and prodded by nurses and doctors, random people all the time.”

Kureishi  – best known for The Buddha Of Suburbia, Intimacy and Mother – also said: “You give up any sense of privacy; of your body, of your mind, of your soul, of anything about you… it’s completely eradicated.”

The author returned home before Christmas Day, according to the pre-recorded show.

He said: “I want to walk in the door and go about my world again as though this has been some terrible interregnum, but I am going to go back to my house as a disabled person.

“I have to adjust to becoming another person, with different relationships, with different people.

“I have to find a way of living like that. It’s horrifying, I don’t want to do it, but I have to do things every day that I really don’t want to do.”

He previously told followers on X, formerly Twitter, that he fell on December 26 2022 during a walk through Piazza del Popolo to Villa Borghese and back to his apartment in the Italian capital.

Kureishi said he thought at the time “this is ridiculous, to die in such a stupid way, surely I could do something dramatic, bit more interesting”, and while waiting for an ambulance he wanted to call loved ones to say goodbye.

However, he said his partner Isabella d’Amico told him not to as they would be “quite shocked to see a dying man pop up” on their phones.

Kureishi said: “It occurred to me that everybody dies, and everybody will have that moment, and I thought, ‘Well, this is my moment and it’s rather unexpected’.

“I guess, for most people, it probably comes rather unexpectedly… I also had a sense of thinking, ‘I’m really not done yet, there’s lots of things I really want to do. I’m not ready to die yet’.”

He also said he has “lost his sense of humour” and the “world seems darker than before” and he no longer listens to music.

Royal InvestituresHanif Kureishi became a CBE in 2008 (Martin Keene/PA)

“I couldn’t bear to hear it,” he added. “I think it would be too moving, I think it would be too upsetting, I would feel so awful about myself and so depressed about my situation.”

Kureishi said “every single morning you have to come to terms with the fact that you’ve become disabled” and he has more of sense now of how generous people can be.

Since the accident, his son Carlo has been helping him write blog updates through dictation, which will be turned into a book called Shattered.

Kureishi said: “I had to find a completely new way to write. I can’t sit at my desk for hours fiddling around with words and crossing things out, I can’t use my hands, I can’t use a pen. So I just have to say it.”

He is best known for 1990 work The Buddha Of Suburbia, which was adapted for a BBC television series with a soundtrack by David Bowie.

Kureishi’s second novel, The Black Album, was adapted for the stage in 2009.

He was made a CBE in 2008.