Presented by writer Isabel Waidner, This isn't a Dream is a fortnightly literary chat show hosted by the ICA via Instagram live. The 40-minute-long live episodes will feature informal conversations between Waidner and various authors about writing and process.
The first four episodes will feature Sophia Al-Maria (14 January 2021), Shola von Reinhold (28 January 2021), M. John Harrison (11 February 2021) and Jeremy Atherton Lin (25 February 2021).
The title of the series plays on the classic narrative get-out trope ‘it was all a dream’, and the surrealness of life under Covid and conservative state policy to which it fails to apply.
Sophia Al-Maria is an artist and writer living in London. Her collected writing Sad Sack (Book Works, 2019) takes feminist inspiration from Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1986 essay ‘The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’, opposing ‘the linear, progressive, Time’s-(killing)-arrow mode of the Techno-Heroic.’ Encompassing more than a decade of work, Sad Sack tracks Al-Maria’s speculative journey as a writer, from the first seed of her ‘premature’ memoir, through the coining and subsequent critique of ‘Gulf Futurism’, towards experiments in gathering, containing, welling up and sucking dry. Al-Maria’s memoir, The Girl Who Fell to Earth (Harper Perennial, 2012), was translated into Arabic and published by Bloomsbury Qatar in 2015. In 2016, she presented ‘Black Friday’, her first US solo exhibition, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and was nominated for Film London’s Jarman Award. Recently, she has been screenwriting for film and television, including the Sky Atlantic TV series Little Birds (2020) which is loosely based on Anais Nin’s collection of erotic vignettes.
Shola von Reinhold is a Scottish socialite and writer. They have been published in the Cambridge Literary Review, i-D, and the Independent, were Cove Park’s Scottish Emerging Writer 2018, and recently won a Dewar Award for Literature. Their debut novel LOTE (2020) ‘immerses readers in the pursuit of aesthetics and beauty, while interrogating the removal and obscurement of Black figures from history’. The story follows a protagonist as she traces the path of fictive Black modernist Hermia Druitt from archive to visions to parties to artist residency where secrets and secret societies lead her into the depths of a lotus-eating proto-luxury communist cult.
M. John Harrison has published fiction and criticism since 1966. His novels were awarded the James Tiptree Jr Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and most recently, for The Sunken Land Begins To Rise Again (2020), the Goldsmiths Prize. His work includes the Viriconium sequence of novels and short stories (1971–1984), Climbers (1989), and the Kefahuchi Tract trilogy (2002-2012). He is widely considered one of the major stylists of modern fantasy and science fiction, and according to Wikipedia, a genre contrarian.
Jeremy Atherton Lin is an American-born essayist. He grew up in California and transplanted to London, where he took a job in retail and hung out at bars. He wrote down his experiences candidly in blogs and zines. Jeremy wound up on the Writing MA at the Royal College of Art, and has since published in The White Review, ArtReview, Noon, and the Times Literary Supplement. He lectures at arts universities in the UK and is an editor at Failed States, a journal of art and writing on place. His first book Gay Bar will be published by Little, Brown (US) and Granta (UK) in 2021.
Isabel Waidner is a writer and critical theorist. Their novels We Are Made of Diamond Stuff (2019) and Gaudy Bauble (2017) were shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize, the Republic of Consciousness Prize (2x), and won the Internationale Literaturpreis. Waidner is a co-founder (with Richard Porter) of the event series Queers Read This at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, and the host of This isn’t a Dream, a literary talk series, also with the ICA. They are the editor of Liberating the Canon: An Anthology of Innovative Writing (2018), and their next novel Sterling Karat Gold is forthcoming with Peninsula Press in Spring 2021.