erasure disguised as ‘progress’

Books Another FOI request. Author Iain Sinclair was due to promote his book Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire: A Confidential Report at Stoke Newington Library but the launch was notoriously cancelled (Tom Roper collects further background and links).

Sinclair, himself, writing (alright) in The Guardian, said that he thought the launch had been cancelled because of an essay he wrote for the London Review of Books criticising the effect that part of the new London olympic site was having on the local community which he says has nothing to do with the content of the book.

This FOI request clarifies things somewhat.

As you can see from the emails (you'll have to cock your head to the right) which passed back and forth within Hackney Council, everyone was very positive, until someone did a risk assessment -- or in this case looked the book up on Amazon and read the synopsis:
"Once an Arcadian suburb of grand houses, orchards and conservatories, Hackney declined into a zone of asylums, hospitals and dirty industry. Persistently revived, reinvented, betrayed, it has become a symbol of inner-city chaos, crime and poverty. Now, the Olympics, a final attempt to clamp down on a renegade spirit, seeks to complete the process: erasure disguised as ‘progress’."
They decided that the book "may contain criticism of Hackney Borough Council" (oh really?) and that it might attracted the wrong kind of press coverage and swiftly cancelled the launch. So in fact, the cancellation had nothing to do with the LRB article and everything to do with the content of the book which based on that synopsis appears to be an incendiary piece of work about the local area.

Which just demonstrates yet again that there are two sides to every story. I'm not surprised the launch was cancelled. True, there may be free speech related issues, but why would you invite someone round just so that they can tell you how rubbish you are?

No comments:

Post a comment