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Cityread London 2019



One City. One Month. One Book.

Cityread returns for its eighth annual festival, turning the capital – and some spots further afield – into one big, interactive book group with Ayisha Malik’s Sofia Khan is Not Obliged as the city’s collective page-turner from 1st – 31st May

Launching 1st May, this month-long celebration of reading will help Londoners discover and celebrate their city through its stories. Expect live readings from the novel by Anjli Mohindra and Nina Wadia, author discussions chaired by Helen Lederer with Ayisha and Candice Carty-Williams at the London Library, and events in public libraries across 24 London boroughs plus Luton and Slough, with lots more very special announcements to come.

Cityread London 2019 is supported by a generous grant from Amal, a programme of the Saïd Foundation.

Key partnerships include the Museum of London, Aga Khan Centre, Waterstones Tottenham Court Road, and Picturehouse Greenwich.


Supper with Sofia – Monday 29 April, 7pm 

Masala Wala Café, 5 Brockley Cross, London SE4 2AB

Come and have supper with Sofia at this intimate dining event. The mother and daughter team at Masala Wala will be serving up a home-cooked Pakistani feast, while we listen to

live performances from the novel, and learn more about the history of South Asian food in London from very special foodie guests.

Identity: A walking tour of Spitalfields – Saturday 11 May,  2PM

Meet at White Goat Statue, Brushfield Street, E1

Spitalfields is a London area synonymous with immigration, the original ‘melting pot’. In this fascinating walking tour, Blue Badge Guide Katie Wignall will explore changes in the Muslim community from post- war to present day, as well as explore the stories of other groups who have made Spitalfields their home. Incorporating themes, ideas and stories from Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, we will also hear from Londoners through the ages that have settled here to establish their identities and build a life for themselves and their families.

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Monday 13 May,  6.30PM

Greenwich Picturehouse, 180 Greenwich High Road, London SE10 8NN

A fan of Helen Fielding’s creation, Ayisha set out to create a Muslim Bridget Jones. Please join us at this very special screening of Bridget Jones’s Diary, introduced by Ayisha herself and with a pre-film Q&A.

Sofia Khan, Queenie and the ghost of Bridget Jones, with Ayisha Malik, Candice Carty Williams and Helen Lederer – Wednesday 15 May, 6.30pm 

The London Library, 14 St James’s Square, London SW1Y 4LG.

Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie is 2019’s most hotly anticipated debut novel, a darkly comic and unflinchingly raw depiction of a young woman trying to navigate her way in the world. This event brings Candice and Ayisha together in conversation with Helen Lederer, as the authors discuss multicultural identity, female experience, giving voice to characters rarely seen in literature and why we keep coming back to Bridget Jones.

Sofia Khan’s Girls Night In – Thursday 6 May, 6.30pm 

The AllBright, 11 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1 HR

Inspired by the strength of Sofia Khan’s female friendships, Sam Baker hosts a panel of women talking about the importance of supportive female relationships and role models in the workplace. Panelists include A.N. Devers, owner of The Second Shelf bookshop specializing in rare books and rediscovered works by women; internationally renowned lawyer Aina Khan OBE; and writer and journalist Daisy Buchanan, whose book Sisterhood was published in March 2019. The event will include readings from Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by actress Seeta Indrani.

Recording A Life – Saturday 18 May, 11am 

Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN

Do you keep a diary? Ever thought about making a video diary?

Come and find about historic diaries written by Londoners in the morning session. In the afternoon, discover how to make a video diary. Workshop led by Alex Werner, Lead Curator – Museum of London and Paul Atherton, film maker and producer.

Chick Lit: A Guilty Pleasure? – Thursday 23 May, 6.30pm 

Waterstones, 19-21 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 1BJ

Writer and journalist Caroline O’Donoghue plays host to panellists Ayisha Malik, Ben Aaronovitch and more guests tbc, as they chat Chick Lit – why we love it, why it should be taken it more seriously (and why it isn’t) and why it’s SO much more than a guilty pleasure. With readings from actress Nisha Nayar.

Sofia Khan’s Happy Ending – Thursday 30 May, 7pm 

Aga Khan Centre, 10 Handyside Street, London N1C 4DN

A joyful end to our Cityread festival, journalist Sarah Shaffi hosts a Loose Women panel discussion on the book and its associated themes. The panel comprises the author Ayisha Malik and actresses Nina Wadia, Seeta Indrani, Anjli Mohindra & Nisha Nayar along with writer and activist Marian Khan, and founder of Bradford Literature Festival Syima Aslam. With readings from the novel, music and henna, and concluding with an Iftar meal taken together, this is a very special ending to a wonderful month.


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