Saturday, 27 September 2008

Weddings and Beheadings by Hanif Kureishi

I was going to give a miss to Sunday Scribblings. However, after reading the following short story, I couldn't resist posting the review here. I felt it goes right with the prompt, Weddings. It might be too dark for some but this is another ugly reality of the world we live in. Let's face it too...

You may choose to read it and write own your thoughts about it or you may choose to ignore it. I leave in on to you.

Weddings and Beheadings by Hanif Kureishi is an interesting title. I found it online in a back issue of Zoetrope: All-Story.

The narrator seems to be a film-maker who is made to video tape beheadings by some people who seem to be terrorists. Although the place is not mentioned, it might have been set in Afghanistan or Iraq or any such place. At least thats what I presumed. It is a short story but makes one sit up and notice. Here the narrator, the place and the terrorists, all remain nameless.

It is dark, deeply sad for the victims as well as their families yet it has that black humour. To quote a few lines of conversation between friends who take such shots:

"Don't bury your head in the sand, my friend. Don't go losing your head now. Chin up!"

"It's too dark, it's not going to come out and you can't do another take."

"You'll get a prize for the next one. Don't you guys love prizes and statuettes and stuff?"

At one point you do feel he is enjoying his work in a macabre way.

"To make the shot work, it helps to get a clear view of the victim's eyes just before they're covered. At the end the guys hold up the head streaming with blood, and you might need to use some handheld here, to catch everything. "

Maybe it his way of being clinical. After all it can affect the mind. This line of work. How did the title come about? It was an idea of one of the writer friends of the narrator to have "calling cards inscribed with WEDDINGS AND BEHEADINGS."


  1. What an thought-provoking and disturbing short story--the terror of being chosen for the job and not being able to not do it.

  2. The prompt is turning out to be more thought provoking that I thought is might be.



  3. I don't know about you, Gautami. You read some pretty weird stuff.:) This one sounds too graphic for me.

  4. hmmm. I hate forced death. A shame that there's a market for it.

  5. framed, you are right. I read entirely different stuff. Ugliness is part of our world too. We simply can't ignore that aspect.

    skylarke, why should that surprise you? There is market for EVERYTHING in our world.

  6. Often it is not the words of a story, but the attitude of the writer coming out in the story that decides its acceptability.
    Sometimes it is a fine line.

  7. ohh my... this is disturbing ..very much!

    that last line by the so very disturbing...

    a very different take on the prompt!

  8. It's a practical piece. If one didn't build distance into one's heart and mind, I don't think anyone could do that job. People need to be reminded that terrible things happen in their world. Well done to the camera man!

  9. really dark but yeah you're right, the world has darkness in it too

  10. I am really ashamed at laughing at the black humor. It is such a horror.

  11. Macabre is the right word. Clinical would be the other right word.
    Guard your heart and mind is right.

    I left you a comment in my comments. Shall I answer or keep leaving it..a mystery until I write again.

  12. sounds like an interesting, if macabre, read

  13. Glad you stopped by my dark site (of late) to clue me in on this dark piece ;-) My personal favorite lines in the story:

    The stories are there, waiting to be told; we're artists. But this stuff, the death work, it has taken over. Although this seemed akin to a complaint, it also seemed to me the reason for their interest in the work: we’re artists, and there’s art in life and death.

    and you hear things from other rooms that make you wonder if life on earth is a good idea …exactly, what with war, brutality, callousness, etc. etc.

  14. I know these things happen, but I push them from my mind. I can't imagine having to do something like that. And they get paid for it. Wow!

  15. Thank you for sharing the story. Loved the title!