Sinclair has a new novel, Hackney, That Rose Red Empire, out and had been due to launch it at Stoke Newington public library in the borough.
Terence Blacker takes up the story in the Independent:
The problem for small Labour minds of Hackney must have been Sinclair's London Review of Books essay. As Blacker says:
After the arrangement was made, an essay written by Sinclair appeared in the London Review of Books, the theme of which was that the Olympics – "this 2012 game-show rabies" as he put it – would have a disastrous effect on London. "The Millennium Dome fiasco was a low-rent rehearsal," Sinclair argued. "The holy grail for blue-sky thinkers was the sport-transcends-politics Olympiad, the five-hooped golden handcuffs, smoke rings behind which deals could be done for casinos and malls: with sponsorship, flag-waving and infinitely elastic budgets (any challenge an act of nay-saying treason)."
That parenthetical aside was prophetic. Stoke Newington Library rang Iain Sinclair to withdraw its invitation to him. The problem, they said, was that he had been critical of the Olympics. A spokesman for Hackney Council subsequently dug the local authority a little deeper into the mire. It would be inappropriate for a public library to host the launch for a book "expressing controversial or political opinions," he explained. The problem with that argument, apart from its sinister daftness, is that the book is three months away from publication has presumably not yet been read by the thought police of Hackney.
suggested a high level of dodgy dealing in east London, with developers being given attractive deals if they put money into the financially hard-pressed Olympic project. As a result, the communities, small businesses and historic buildings were being destroyed. "Nothing slows the momentum, the Olympic imperative," Sinclair wrote.Do read the whole thing for yourself.
This episode has a happy ending - and one that makes me proud to be a Liberal Democrat. Becasue Lib Dem run Islington has offered Sinclair the chance to launch his book in of their libraries instead.
The Islington Gazette quotes Cllr Ruth Polling, the borough's executive member in charge of libraries and culture, who has called the decision "deeply troubling": She says:
"There will never be censorship of this sort as long as the Lib-Dems run Islington. Banning an author from speaking because of his views about the Government's incompetence is monstrous. But what's worse is the Labour council's blanket statement that controversial opinions are no longer welcome in their libraries. Libraries should be a place for discourse and free thinking. I'm pleased to offer Islington's libraries for Mr Sinclair's book launch."