Responding to claims that BBC journalist Alan Johnston was executed by Palestinian radicals this week, the BBC’s Radio 4 has canceled a scheduled reading of Hanif Kureishi’s “Weddings & Beheadings.” Kureishi’s short story, about a cameraman who films Iraqi executions of Westerners, was one of five nominees for the £15,000 National Short Story Prize. Now Kureishi’s crying censorship.
But how’s the story, anyways? Find out for yourself: it’s online.
One thing it isn’t is all that shocking. It’s about an aspiring director who shoots weddings and beheadings, instead of the art films of which he once dreamed. Needless to say, he’s disappointed with his lot and frightened of the thugs who force him into his work. Would it be tasteless to read this story on the radio shortly after your countryman may or may not have been beheaded? No more tasteless than it is to, you know, speculate on the produceability of a mass murderer’s plays.