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Serious reading required dedication. Who, now, believed it did them good? And how many people knew a book as they knew Blonde on Blonde, Annie Hall or Prince, even? Could literature connect a generation in the same way? Some exceptional students would read hard books; most wouldn’t, and they weren’t fools.

The music her students liked, how they danced, their clothes and language, it was theirs, a living way. She tried to enter it, extend it, ask questions. It wasn’t a pleasure telling people that culture would benefit them, partcularly if they couldn’t see what it was for. As it was, they were constantly being informed of their inferiority. Many of them regarded the white elite culture as selfdeceiving and hypocritical. For some this was an excuse for laziness. With others it was genuine: they didn’t want to find the culture that put them down profound.

Hanif Kureishi, The Black Album (1995), ed. Faber and Faber, 2010 (p. 134)

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