My friend David Bowie by Hanif Kureishi

They went to the same south London school, a decade apart, and ended up working together. As a new anecdote-filled book is published, the novelist recalls the Bowie he knew

One of the first, and most important pieces of advice David Bowie ever gave me – this was in the early 1990s – was to make sure I noted down the names of secretaries and assistants I came into contact with. This would help me later, he explained, when I needed to get through to the important people.

Charm, as Albert Camus put it in The Fall, is a way of getting people to say yes before you’ve told them what you want. And Major Tom, or Captain Tom, as Frank Zappa insisted on calling him when Bowie tried to poach his guitarist, had already used his ample portion to get through to the important people. And to the ...

Hanif Kureishi: even the best writers face rejection

As the British Library launches a collection including rejection letters sent to literary greats, Hanif Kureishi explores how self-doubt can be the greatest obstacle to writing

Of all the questions authors get asked, the most puzzling but persistent is what others might think of what the writer has produced. These potential disapprovers could be the writer’s spouse, family, colleagues, community or neighbours. It doesn’t matter exactly who they are. Yet the question of these opinions is clearly a crucial one for apprentice artists. When they begin to work a chorus of censure and dissent, if not of hate, starts up. The writer becomes inhibited by concerns about the effect his or her words might have. The writer could become anxious, stifled or blocked. They could begin to hate their own work, or become phobic about beginning. Related: 'It needs more public-spirited pigs': TS Eliot's ...