Monday, February 21, 2011

The Buddha of Shoreditch

Hanif Kureishi reads at YARNfest; photo by Val PhoenixWhere does Shoreditch end and Hoxton begin? That's the question I asked myself as I trudged up and down the L-E-N-G-T-H of Curtain Road looking in vain for the elusive Queen of Hoxton public house. "It must be at the top end, near Hoxton," my logical brain told me. Nope. "Uh, then it must be by the bottom end, close to Liverpool Street," came the reply. Yes, there it was, sort of where I started some 25 minutes earlier, at the end of a rather long day, after a rather long weekend.

The occasion was Cover Wars, a live competition to redesign the cover of The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi's novel, courtesy of YARN, the multidisciplinary festival in its second year. I was curious to see what live cover-designing involved, and as Kureishi was also reading, thought it would be an interesting test of multi-tasking.

So, down the stairs I trooped, emerging into the darkened bar to find a veritable frenzy of activity, with two artists on-stage, beavering away at their easels, while compere/festival producer Gemma Mitchell verbally prodded them along, and Kureishi sat in the front row, occasionally offering a comment. He was put to work, coming on-stage to judge the efforts, reading some passages from the book and also signing in between judging rounds.

Alas, I had to leave before the tension-racked finale, but I must say I disagreed with the judges' choice in the first round. Fix!

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