Hanif is a celebrated film director, playwright, screenwriter and novelist. Hanif draws on his experience in television, film, theatre, and literature to contribute to Counterculture as a chief cultural strategist.
In 2008, The Times included Hanif in their list of “The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945” for his prolific body of literary work. As a novelist, Hanif’s The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) won both the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel, and the Booksellers Association First Novel category. The work was later produced as a four-part drama for the BBC in 1993, with an accompanied soundtrack by David Bowie. Hanif’s fiction has since appeared regularly in prestigious periodicals such as the New Yorker, Granta, the London Review of Books and the Atlantic Monthly. His second novel The Black Album (1995) was adapted for the theatre and performed at the National Theatre in July and August 2009. The next, Intimacy (1998), was adapted as a film in 2001, winning the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film festival. Gabriel’s Gift was published in 2001, Something to Tell You in 2008, and The Last Word in 2014.
Hanif’s non-fiction work includes the essay collections Dreaming and Scheming: Reflections on Writing and Politics (2002) and The Word and the Bomb (2005). He also authored the memoir My Ear at his Heart: Reading my Father (2004).
As a playwright Hanif won the George Devine award for his plays Outskirts and Borderline in 1981 and was a writer-in-residence, 1981 and 1985-86 at the Royal Court Theatre, London. His early plays were produced by London’s Theatre Upstairs, the Royal Court Theatre, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Hanif’s work as a screenwriter enjoyed international success with the 1985 screenplay My Beautiful Laundrette, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. 1991 saw the release of the feature film entitled London Kills Me, written and directed by Hanif. Hanif’s drama The Mother was adapted to a movie by Roger Michell, which won a joint First Prize in 2004 in the Director’s Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival. Hanif’s 2006 screenplay Venus saw Oscar, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Golden Globe nominations for Peter O’Toole in the best actor category.
Hanif was awarded the CBE for his services to literature, and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts des Lettres in France. In 2013 Hanif was appointed as a professor in the creative writing department at Kingston University in London, where he was a Writer in Residence. In 2014 the British Library announced that they would be acquiring the archive of Hanif’s documents spanning 40 years of his writing life. His works have been translated into 36 languages.