Pages of Hackney are delighted to present Olivia Laing and Megan Bradbury in conversation.
When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself experiencing the strange state of being alone in a teeming metropolis. She began to explore artists who had lived in the city and how their output reflects the tension between their outward public persona and their internal private lives. From Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks to Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, from Henry Darger’s hoarding to David Wojnarowicz’s AIDS activism – Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into the spaces between people and the things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. Humane, provocative and deeply moving, ‘The Lonely City’ is a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive.
‘Everyone is Watching’ by Megan Bradbury also focuses on New York City. It is told through the interwoven narratives of four major figures from New York City’s history: the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, the writer Edmund White, the urban planner Robert Moses, and the poet Walt Whitman. Through their perspectives we examine themes of social, economic, architectural and sexual change; memory, nostalgia and urban gentrification; the spiritual promise of cities and the question: what is a city and who it is for?
The links between the narratives are intended to form a pattern of voices that reflect the many layers of consciousness and history contained within the city.
Olivia Laing is the former Deputy Books Editor of the Observer and writes for a variety of publications, including the Observer, New Statesman, Guardian and Times Literary Supplement. Her previous books are ‘To The River’ and ‘A Trip to Echo Spring’.
Megan Bradbury was born in the United States and grew up in Britain. She studied at the University of East Anglia, graduating with an MA in Creative Writing in 2005. In 2012 she was awarded the Charles Pick Fellowship at UEA, and in 2013 she won an Escalator Literature Award and a Grant for the Arts to help fund the completion of her first novel.
Damnificados is loosely based on the real-life occupation of a half completed skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela, the Tower of David. In this fictional version, six hundred “damnificados”—vagabonds and misfits take over an abandoned urban tower and set up a community complete with schools, stores, beauty salons, bakeries, and a rag-tag defensive militia. Their always heroic (and often hilarious) struggle for survival and dignity pits them against corrupt police, the brutal military, and the tyrannical “owners.”
Taking place in an unnamed country at an unspecified time, the novel has elements of magical realism: avenging wolves, biblical floods, massacres involving multilingual ghosts, arrow showers falling to the tune of Beethoven’s Ninth, and a trash truck acting as a Trojan horse. The ghosts and miracles woven into the narrative are part of a richly imagined world in which the laws of nature are constantly stretched and the past is always present.
JJ Amaworo Wilson is a German-born, British-educated debut novelist. Based in the U.S., he has lived in 9 countries and visited 60. He is a prizewinning author of over 20 books about language and language learning. Damnificados is his first major fiction work. His short fiction has been published by Penguin, Johns Hopkins University Press, and myriad literary magazines in England and the U.S.
Pages of Hackney offers a series of readings, discussions, debates, screenings, art exhibitions, performances and parties. These events are well-attended so do pop into the shop or pay by PayPal in advance to guarantee a place. We can only hold reserved tickets until 6pm on the night of the event. You can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 02085251452.
Events Highlights of the past
17th November 2015 Hackney Propaganda with Barry Burke and Ken Worpole
23rd September 2015 The Mythology of Work with Peter Fleming and Joanna Biggs, chaired by Dawn Foster
7 July 2015 Iain Sinclar in conversation with Mark Pilkington
29 April 2015 Curationism with David Balzer, chaired by Zoe Williams
15 April 2015 Rebel Footprints with David Rosenberg and Night Walking with Matthew Beaumont, chaired by Will Self
29 September 2014 The Establishment: and how they get away with it Owen Jones discusses his follow-up to Chavs with Melissa Benn
12 April 2014 What Should We Tell Our Daughters? With Melissa Benn, Nimco Ali, Kat Banyard and Zoe Williams
1 April 2014 Andy Merrifield in conversation with Owen Hatherley about The New Urban Question
10 March 2014 Ben Campkin talked with Dave Hill about Remaking London
20 June 2013 George Monbiot in conversation with Leo Hollis –Feral
8 November 2012 Daniel Trilling in conversation with Owen Jones about the far right – Bloody, Nasty People
16 October 2012 China Mieville in conversation with Suzanne Moore for London’s Overthrow
11 October 2012 Sarah Wise talked about madness in Victorian times – Inconvenient People
20 September 2012 Neil Fraser on Over the Border: The Other East End
19 July 2012 The Art of Dissent: Adventures in London’s Olympic State
4 July 2012 A People’s History of London with Lindsey German and John Rees
12 June 2012 The Bookshop Band performed downstairs in the 2nd hand book basement
22 May 2012 The Gentle Author and guests from Spitalifields Life
16 May 2012 Hackney Society launch for Hackney: An Uncommon History in Five Parts
3 May 2012 We launched the Hackney Anthology
8 March 2012 Margaret Willes on The Making of the English Gardner
25 January 2012 John Marriott on Beyond the Tower: A History of East London
26 July 2011 Iain Sinclair read from Ghost Milk
20 July 2011 Owen Jones discussed Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class
12 July 2011 China Mieville talked about Embassytown
1 June 2011 Ross Perlin came and talked about Intern Nation
12 May 2011 Cinnamon Press with Jeremy Worman and Sue Vickerman
20 April 2011 Michael Foley talked about The Age of Absurdity
5 April 2011 Estate talk
10 March 2011 Simon Garfield came to discuss Just My Type
9 February 2011 Jenny Lord came to show us how to knit ipod socks
20 January 2011 Towards Re-Enchantment: Place and Its Meanings with Iain Sinclair & Ken Worpole
16 December 2010 Winter Warmer: Our annual Klezmer music, mulled wine and mince pies
16 November 2010 Francis Spufford reading from Red Plenty
12 November 2010 Jonathan Kemp reading from London Triptych
3 November 2010 The Meaning of David Cameron? Richard Seymour
21 October 2010 Lived in London. Blue Plaques
13 October 2010 Ned Beauman read from Boxer, Beetle
12 October 2010 Anonymous writing collective Wu Ming came and talked about Manituana
7 October 2010 Rebecca Hunt read from her debut novel Mr Chartwell
29 September 2010 Rob Penn came to talk All About the Bike
23 September 2010 New Feminism and Reclaiming the F-Word with Kat Banyard and Catherine Redfern
8 September 2010 Dan Cruickshank talked about The Secret History of Georgian London
20 July 2010 Mark Hannam and Jo Wolff spoke about Southern Africa: Past and Future
14 July 2010 Nicholas Jubber talked about his book, Poets, Polymaths and Pleasure-Daughters: Drinking Arak off an Ayatollah’s Beard
8 July 2010 Private View for Luisa Alpalhao’s exhibition, 30 Days of Storytelling
6 July 2010 I R Charles read from her brilliant local book Under a Hackney Sky
30 June 2010 Mike Gerber spoke about Jazz Jews
27 June 2010 Cinnamon Press hosted their 2nd runaway success at Pages with a poetry afternoon including readings from local poet Claudia Jessop and international poets, Arlene Ang and Mark Fitzgerald
9 June 2010 Mike Marqusee talked with the Guardian’s Daphna Baram about his book If I Am Not for Myself
5 June 2010 Private View – Emerging Images by Valerie and Roger Dean
22 April 2010 Adam Foulds – the Booker shortlisted author of The Quickening Maze came to Pages
17 April 2010 Out of Step: A spoken word benefit for No Sweat
1 April – 31 May 2010 Amy Green Drawings – A Show of Small Gifts
25 March 2010 The Poetry of Healing: Medicine, Psychotherapy and the Arts A Dialogue with Iona Heath and Paul Gordon
5 – 31 March 2010 New Paintings by Alex Arnell – Private View
Pages Ruins February – A series of events on ruins
25 February 2010 Patrick Wright talked about A Journey Through Ruins: the last days of London
17 February 2010 Owen Hatherley talked about the ruins of urban regeneration
10 February 2010 ‘Ruins Tourism’ – Christopher Woodward talked with Ken Worpole
4 February 2010 Nick Haffner’s photographic exhibition opening for ‘Among the Ruins: Woolworths, Leytonstone, April 2009’
27 January 2010 One Million Tiny Plays About Britain, performed by author Craig Taylor and Co.
16 January 2010 Out of Step – an evening of Spoken Word
8 December 2009 Iain Sinclair and Bonnie Greer asked Is London British?
8 July 2009 Alain de Botton discussed The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work