On an ordinary day, London’s most village-like area of Hackney – with its fromageries, wine shops, cake sellers, vintage dealers and bookstores – Stoke Newington has a cheerful, progressive energy about it. So when Stoke Newington Literary Festival rolls in to town, the whole municipality hums with bookish excitement.
As a newcomber to London, I hadn’t caught wind of this festival before. But, luckily for me, a trusty uni pal, story lover, fellow Brisbane expat and book-club leader let me in on her borough’s premier cultural event. From June 3-5, Stokey became resplendent in the festival’s distinctive neon pink, with signposts and bunting dappled throughout the streets. Circular signs, in the style of London’s iconic blue spots, told stories of Stokey and its culture-driving inhabitants.
I had the pleasure of listening to my countryman Thomas Keneally discuss his recent work and Australian history, and also of attending a session with beer writer Pete Brown, flanked by a bunch of London’s local brewers. Between events, particularly those in Town Hall, you’re well placed to grab a bite and a bev at one of nearby Church Street’s locales – which, naturally, we felt obliged to do. Avid readers, add it to your must-attend lists.