The Nothing by Hanif Kureishi
Faber & Faber Ltd (2017)
Source: Publisher (Hardback) & (d-ARC)
The Nothing is Hanif Kureishi’s powerful new work: a tense and captivating exploration of lust, helplessness, and deception.
One night, when I am old, sick, right out of semen, and don't need things to get any worse, I hear the noises growing louder. I am sure they are making love in Zenab's bedroom which is next to mine.
Waldo, a fêted filmmaker, is confined by old age and ill health to his London apartment. Frail and frustrated, he is cared for by his lovely younger wife, Zee. But when he suspects that Zee is beginning an affair with Eddie, ‘more than an acquaintance and less than a friend for over thirty years,’ Waldo is pressed to action: determined to expose the couple, he sets himself first to prove his suspicions correct — and then to enact his revenge.
Written with characteristic black humour and with an acute eye for detail, Kureishi’s eagerly awaited novella will have his readers dazzled once again by a brilliant mind at work
What an experience...a thoroughly unpleasant one...being witness to the inner thoughts and perversions of such a vile geriatric misogynist. During his last days on earth film-maker Waldo schemes, manipulates and coerces those around him in order to direct his final acting scene.
Far from being utterly devastated at his imminent death or showing any sign that she would rather kill herself than be left alone upon his demise, his wife ‘unbelievably’ appears to be having a pretty enjoyable time with his friend.
He’d taken her suicide as a given, regularly fantasises about it; “I did say, ‘When I am dead I hope you find a wealthy man with an attractive penis to look after you’, while taking it for granted that when I died she would slash her wrists with a broken bottle, having first gone mad and ripped out her hair”. To enjoy the rest of her years without him, well that's unthinkable and just not going to happen.
Waldo is an intensely unlikable individual. I felt tainted, sullied and abused in being an voyeuristic accomplice to his scheming revengeful deeds. I willed him on to a speedy death in order that his wife be shot of him. Surely she deserved a happier life after suffering his vileness for so many years.
I came to detest all of the characters equally with progression of the book and with the denouement of the story felt pure cleansing relief that I could remove myself from their disgusting little cesspool world and move on.
Kureishi held me captive, voluntarily, reading about such repulsive people and their diabolical behaviour. A sick twisted little ‘ménage à trois’ and an undeniable feat of sheer brilliance that I highly recommend especially for Kureishi fans. For anyone needing to like or see any redeeming features in their characters I’d probably say this one might not be for you, but at 167 pages it’s definitely worth trying something different. I read it in one uncomfortable sitting. You may just appreciate Kureishi’s perverse and playful sense of black humour and skilful storytelling.
Most liked character: NONE
Most disliked character: ALL OF THEM