Latest: We are currently developing the 1978 Children’s Novel My Mate Shofiq Into a Feature. When My Mate Shofiq appeared in 1978, it caused a sensation. Runner-up to the Guardian Award, it was accused of racism, gratuitous violence, and above all being totally unsuitable for children. Some schools invited Jan Needle to come and talk about it, more refused to have it on their premises. Most spectacularly, he was cancelled as the keynote speaker at a London conference on ‘realism in children’s literature’ the night before he was due to travel down there from the North of England. The headteacher said there ‘had been a democratic vote’ among the staff. Jan Needle was an unsuitable person to be listened to.
Far from being racist, the work is now recognised as a vivid portrait of prejudice and ignorance, which is also extremely difficult to ignore. Newspaper headlines every day attest to its renewed and increasing relevance, and events mirror the anguished responses around the world. It is about fear and indoctrination, faltering economies, and the possibility that real and widespread violence is lurking just beneath the surface of British life. As Bertolt Brecht said in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui – ‘the bitch is on heat again.’
Above all, though, it is an utterly compelling story about how the veneer of normality can be pierced and broken by almost random, unregarded events, that reveal the pain and torture that normal, good-hearted, well-intentioned people can be suffering. And while it offers few solutions, it is ultimately not a story of despair. Against a dying industrial landscape in the North, glimmers of hope can be perceived
The screenplay also written by the Author Jan Needle watch this space me peeps.
Vigorous and sensitive – Sunday Telegraph
Pulls no punches on race issues – Manchester Evening News
JAN NEEDLE is an internationally acclaimed author of thrillers, historical sea novels, and books for adults, young adults, and children, under a He also writes television and stage plays, and literary criticism.
MY MATE SHOFIQ
Written by Jan Needle
Screenplay Jan Needle
Director aneel ahmad