• Schedule

Keynotes, Interviews, and Panels

Welcome to our 2019 schedule of literary conversations! These events take place on 10 indoor stages throughout Downtown Berkeley and on the San Francisco Chronicle Stage in the Outdoor Fair. Indoor events are accessed via a $10 Priority Ticket to guarantee your seat (link beside each event below) or with a $15 General Admission Wristband covering all events, all weekend, on a space-available basis. Since some events fill up, we recommend Priority Tickets for your top choices.

Other helpful tools: Print copy of schedule grid (3 MB); browse the 2019 Bay Area Book Festival POC Spotlight; lists of events by interest area or via Search window (below left)

Book purchase and signing: Books will be available for purchase from our independent bookstore partners directly adjacent to each venue. Authors will sign books for you there immediately after their programs.

There’s more! Click on these links for a wide array of free Young Adult indoor and outdoor events, extensive outdoor children’s programs, and the outdoor Wunderbar Together pavilion.

  • Category

7:00 PM
  • 2018
  • International
  • Women/Gender

Courage, Honor and Hope: An Evening with Khalida Brohi

December 13, 2018

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Not even thirty years old, Khalida Brohi already has a globe-spanning career as an activist, from empowering and educating Pakistani men and women to speaking on some of the most prestigious world stages. She has been lauded by Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai and by TED leader Chris Anderson, who said, “Her story…is beyond belief. It’s incredible that someone so young could achieve this much through passion and ingenuity.”

On Thursday evening, December 13, Khalida will share her new memoir, I Should Have Honor, interviewed by Lauren Schiller of Inflection Point at one the most amazing venues in the the Bay Area, The Women’s Building in San Francisco.

When Brohi was sixteen, her cousin was murdered by her uncle in an honor killing. From a tiny cement-roofed single room home in Karachi, Pakistan where she was allowed ten minutes of computer use per day, she created a viral Facebook campaign, leading her on a global quest to speak up for women and speak out against cultural practices that keep women down. She’s now been named one of Newsweek magazine’s 25 Under 25 Women of Impact and Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs.


Watch the full episode


7:00 PM
  • 2019
  • Women/Gender

An Evening with Gloria Steinem: More Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions

February 21, 2019

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Women Lit is one year old! To celebrate our first birthday, we are bringing feminist icon Gloria Steinem to The Castro Theatre on February 21 to discuss the third edition of her seminal work Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. Steinem will discuss intersectionality and the #MeToo era. She’ll ponder what today’s young feminists can learn from their predecessors, and vice versa. She’ll discuss the newest iteration of Outrageous Acts, which includes the classics readers know – satires, tributes, confessions (yes, the Playboy bunny essay is in here) and analyses — along with brand new material.


Watch the full episode


4:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Women/Gender

Rachel Cusk in Conversation with Brooke Warner

April 7, 2019

4:30 PM - 5:30 PM

This Sunday, one of today’s most dazzling fiction writers is coming to Women Lit. Rachel Cusk is a “stark, modern, adamantine new skyscraper on the literary horizon,” writes The New York Times, which also states that Cusk “has that ability, unique to the great performers in every art form, to hold one rapt from the moment she appears.” Cusk will be interviewed by Brooke Warner, publisher at She Writes Press and former executive editor at Seal Press, a leading feminist publishing house.


Watch the full episode


10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

Quest: Journeys Through Generations

Michael Levitin, Katja Petrowskaja, Sarah Stone, moderated by Joan Frank

Saturday, May 4

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

What if. Maybe. It could be. Where does seeking the truth slide into imagination? These three writers conjure compelling stories of Jewish generations past and present. Michael Levitin writes of a perpetually cuckolded man who seeks wholeness by resolving the mystery of a postcard sent from the Siberian gulag. In a creative nonfiction narrative, German writer Katja Petrowskaja searches not only for her ancestors but their meaning to her and each other. Sarah Stone depicts a loving, dysfunctional half-Jewish family of performers, scientists, and activists who long to wake up the world but must first rescue each other, with a little help (and sometimes hindrance) from the occasional ghost or god.

Brower Center - Tamalpais Room

With the support of the initiative "Wunderbar Together,“ initiated by the German Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe Institut, and supported by the Federation of German Industries (BDI); the Goethe-Institut San Francisco; and Goethe-Institut’s translation support program "Books First"

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Culture

Sleeping with Strangers: Interview with David Thomson

David Thomson interviewed by Lucy Gray

Saturday, May 4

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Sex and the movies—what more could you want on Saturday morning? The author of nearly 30 books, David Thomson’s latest is “Sleeping with Strangers: How the Movies Shaped Desire.” Here’s praise from fellow film writer Patrick McGilligan: “Move over darling film books and make room for another irresistible beauty from David Thomson. No writer makes better love to his subject.”

Magnes Museum

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality

Morning Mindfulness

Gary Gach interviewed by Wes “Scoop” Nisker

Saturday, May 4

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Lately, it seems everything is calling itself “mindful.” This morning’s session will set us straight. Join two longtime Buddhist teachers who happen to be very funny: Gary Gach, author of “Pause. Breathe. Smile.” and Wes “Scoop” Nisker, author of “Crazy Wisdom” and ”You Are Not Your Fault.” Find out what mindfulness is, and what it is not. And see for yourself, as they lead us in guided mindfulness meditation. Experience greater ease, awareness, and joy in your Festival day.

The Marsh - Cabaret

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About: Writers Break the Silence

Michele Filgate, Kiese Laymon, Carmen Maria Machado, Nayomi Munaweera, moderated by Natasha Singh

Saturday, May 4

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

“Our mothers are our first homes and that’s why we’re always trying to return to them,” wrote Michele Filgate in a 2017 “Longreads” essay titled “What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About.” The essay, which in poignant prose described the abuse Filgate endured at the hands of her stepfather and her mother’s quiet complacency, went viral, then sparked an anthology. Join Filgate, along with contributors Kiese Laymon, Carmen Maria Machado, and Nayomi Munaweera as they reveal the secrets, scandals, and silences that stand between themselves and their mothers.

The Marsh - Theater

With the support of Women Lit members

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

Writer to Writer: Joyce Carol Oates and André Alexis

André Alexis and Joyce Carol Oates, moderated by Lise Quintana

Saturday, May 4

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

In our Writer to Writer series, two authors who are fans of each other’s work come together for conversation. Winner of the prestigious Windham-Campbell prize for his body of work, Trinidad-born and Ottawa-raised André Alexis sits down with National Book Award and National Humanities Medal winner, and author of over 40 novels, Joyce Carol Oates. The pair will discuss genre-bending, world-building, and their shared obsession with storytelling.

Veterans Memorial Building - Auditorium

With the support of the Consulate General of Canada, San Francisco/Silicon Valley and Zoetic Press

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs

Us vs. Them: Refugees, Asylum, and the Politics of the Borderlands

Aaron Bobrow-Strain, Jonathan Freedman, Steven Mayers, J.J. Mulligan Sepúlveda, Eileen Truax, moderated by Sara Campos

Saturday, May 4

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Who is worthy of our compassion? Every day more Central American refugees arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border desperate for asylum. Our government greets them with armed guards and tear gas. Hearing human stories behind the headlines can change how we talk about immigration. Aaron Bobrow-Strain (“The Death and Life of Aida Hernández”), Steven Mayers and Jonathan Freedman (“Solito, Solita”), J.J. Mulligan Sepúlveda (“No Human Is Illegal”), and Eileen Truax (“We Built The Wall”) examine the history behind this human rights crisis and tell the urgent stories of those who have experienced it firsthand.

Berkeley City College - Auditorium

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers

Criminally Good Writing

Stefan Ahnhem, Jonas Bonnier, Catherine Ryan Howard, Ragnar Jonasson, moderated by Laurie R. King

Saturday, May 4

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Meet four internationally acclaimed crime writers flexing serious literary muscle. Author and screenwriter Stefan Ahnhem plunges us to “Eighteen Below,” called “unputdownable… edge of the seat stuff” by the UK’s Sunday Post; it has sold a million copies in Scandinavia. Jonas Bonnier’s “The Helicopter Heist” (being adapted by Netflix) is based on the true story of four young Swedish men who pulled off “one of the most spectacular heists of all time,” said Time Magazine. In Catherine Ryan Howard’s “Liar’s Girl,” the Irish Times’ Best Book of the Year in 2018, murder tangles with romance. King of Icelandic Noir Ragnar Jonasson starts a new series with “The Darkness,” with prose as pure and crisp as Reykjavik snowcrust. Come find out what turned these writers on to terror and how they create bestselling thriller fiction.

Brower Center - Goldman Theater

With the support of Icelandic Literature Center, Iceland Naturally, Culture Ireland, the Consulate General of Sweden in San Francisco, and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Poetry
  • Women/Gender

The Legacy of Adrienne Rich and the Shape of our Feminist Future

Jill Bialosky, Aya de Leon, Susan Griffin, Nell Painter, Morgan Parker, moderated by Sandra Gilbert

Saturday, May 4

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

“The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet,” wrote the legendary poet, essayist, and feminist Adrienne Rich. An early proponent of intersectionality (before the term was coined), Rich’s ideas have profoundly shaped feminism. In celebration of “Essential Essays,” a new collection of Rich’s work edited by poet-scholar Sandra Gilbert, join a panel of trailblazing writers and thinkers—Rich’s friends, colleagues, literary and scholarly descendents, and longtime editor—as they pay homage to Rich’s legacy and consider her ideas today.

Freight & Salvage

Sponsored by Reed Schmidt

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • ASL Interpreted programming
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality
  • Literary
  • Writing & Publishing

Writing The Hard Stuff

Susan Burrowes, Vanya Erickson, Francine Falk-Allen, moderated by Brooke Warner

Saturday, May 4

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Tapping a vein is tough work, especially when writing a book means confronting the demons of one’s past. These three recently published She Writes Press authors share the myriad challenges of writing memoirs about pain and share tips on how to practice self-care as they revisit the hardest moments. Covering topics from disability and abuse to religious fanaticism, they open up about transforming their trauma into expertly crafted and compelling stories.

This program will have ASL interpreters.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Boiler Room

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs

Unfriend: An Insider Reveals How Facebook Uses You and Threatens Democracy

Roger McNamee interviewed by Elizabeth Dwoskin

Saturday, May 4

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

In your pocket, palm or purse, pinging with alerts, lurks a threat to the very integrity of your person and the functioning of democracy around the world. In “Zucked,” Roger McNamee, early investor and advisor for Facebook, a platform used by a third of people on the planet, tells a revelatory story of how Facebook and other platforms that were spawned in the libertarian-influenced Silicon Valley of the 1990s pose profound dangers. Privacy is only part of it. “This isn’t a tech story. It’s not a business story. This is an everybody story,” McNamee has said. Interviewed by Elizabeth Dwoskin of The Washington Post.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

11:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Food
  • Outdoor (Free)
  • Race/Identity

Notes From A Young Black Chef: Kwame Onwuachi

Kwame Onwuachi interviewed by Bryant Terry

Saturday, May 4

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Meet the all-star chef whose kitchen wizardry and unique flair for fusion were praised by food critic Bill Addison as “ignited and firing at peak level.” In Onwuachi’s remarkable culinary coming-of-age story, “Notes From a Young Black Chef,” he navigates the unwelcoming world of fine dining as a person of color, competes on Top Chef, and quickly bounces back from the failure of his first restaurant to become the Executive Chef of the wildly popular, D.C.-based Kith and Kin at only 28 years old.

San Francisco Chronicle Stage in the Park

Sponsored by Mother Jones Magazine

11:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Free
  • Literary
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy

Facing the World Through Fantasy: An Interview with Justina Ireland

Justina Ireland interviewed by Alexandria Brown

Saturday, May 4

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

“Zombies are a writer’s best friend,” said Justina Ireland, young adult fantasy fiction writer and author of the New York Times bestselling novel “Dread Nation.” The novel explores an alternate Civil War where zombie-slaying biracial teenager Jane McKeene gets caught in a conspiracy and finds herself in a desperate fight for her life. In conversation with author and YA librarian Alexandria Brown, Ireland unpacks how she employs planet-hopping Star Wars characters, half-god assasins, and more to dig into complex questions about capitalism, science, racism, and inequality.

Florence Schwimley Little Theater

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Literary

I’m Losing You: Fiction on Grief, Change, and the Pathos of Fame

Tom Barbash, Erik Tarloff, Adrian Todd Zuniga, moderated by Elizabeth Rosner

Saturday, May 4

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

“Somehow the wires have crossed / Communication’s lost / … I’m losing you,” sang John Lennon. Tom Barbash channels Lennon in a story about a son trying to help a washed-up father revive his TV career while living at The Dakota. Erik Tarloff paints a vivid portrait of one of the greatest (fictional) postwar actors and the mystery of his demise—telling the story entirely through fictional oral histories. Adrian Todd Zuniga has written a heartbreaking, hilarious novel about a young wannabe screenwriter haunted by the ghost of the woman he loved.

Brower Center - Goldman Theater

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Literary
  • Writing & Publishing

Dance & Do Battle: Writers and Translators on Art and Activism

Aaron Coleman, Innosanto Nagara, Katherine Silver, moderated by Michael Holtmann

Saturday, May 4

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

These writers and translators engage with the world in ways that go well beyond the books they’ve published. Acclaimed translator Katherine Silver has aided families detained on the border in the convoluted process of applying for asylum. Aaron Coleman’s new book, “Threat Come Close,” takes on the policing of Blackness and masculinity. Innosanto Nagara’s “A is for Activist” books teach kids the art of resistance. In the words of poet D.A. Powell: “Remember the lesson of West Side Story: one can dance and do battle at the same time.”

Brower Center - Tamalpais Room

Sponsored by the Center for the Art of Translation

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Culture
  • Environment/Nature
  • Literary

Horizon: Interview with Barry Lopez

Barry Lopez interviewed by John Freeman

Saturday, May 4

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Taking us nearly from pole to pole—from modern megacities to some of the most remote regions on earth—and across decades, “Horizon,” the latest by celebrated humanitarian and environmental writer Barry Lopez, glimmers with insights on our place in this world and on writing as a way of living and seeing. Lopez will be in conversation with John Freeman, writer, editor, and prominent literary critic, who said of the book: “Lopez has managed to fashion his own kind of travel literature, one which doesn’t merely report from distant places, but enlarges by refusing to place a center to the world.”


Watch the full episode


Freight & Salvage

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs

What Does It Mean to Be Human? Rethinking Belonging at the Frontier of Genetic Engineering

George Estreich and Jamie Metzl, moderated by Lance Knobel

Saturday, May 4

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

New biomedical technologies—from prenatal testing to gene-editing techniques—raise questions about who counts as human, what it means to belong, and how far we should go in retooling the human genome. In “Fables and Futures: Biotechnology, Disability, and the Stories We Tell Ourselves,” George Estreich, a poet with a daughter with Down Syndrome, explores new technologies that grant unprecedented power to predict and shape future people. In “Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity,” technology futurist Jamie Metzl “brings us to the frontiers of biology and technology, and reveals a world full of promise and peril,” writes Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD. When we can engineer our future children, massively extend our lifespans, and build life from scratch, should we? Which people, which variations, will we welcome?

Magnes Museum

Sponsored by Berkeleyside

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Poetry
  • Race/Identity
  • Women/Gender

Queer Poetics

Franny Choi, Tommy Pico, Sam Sax, Brenda Shaughnessy, moderated by Ari Banias

Saturday, May 4

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Straddling tenderness and rage, and studying our rapidly changing world with a kaleidoscopic lens, Franny Choi (“Soft Science”), Tommy Pico (“Junk”), Brenda Shaughnessy (“The Octopus Museum”), and Sam Sax (“Bury It”) testify to the deep ache and delicious wonder of survival. With genre-bending work that is as playful as it is subversive, bursting with questions and contradictions that resist hegemony at every turn, these four poets are queering the canon one poem at a time.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Boiler Room

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • History

The Browns of California

Joseph Kelly, Kathleen Kelly, Miriam Pawel, moderated by Peter Richardson

Saturday, May 4

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

In “The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation,” journalist Miriam Pawel tells the story of this extraordinary family, which saw both Pat Brown and Jerry Brown as influential governors. She is joined by two Brown relatives, powerful political players in their own right: Kathleen Kelly, Brown’s niece and a San Francisco Superior Court Judge who has focused much of her career on juvenile justice, and Joseph Kelly, former city commissioner in San Francisco and campaign strategist. They’ll discuss the legacy and ongoing contributions of a family that has helped shape California for four generations.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Native American
  • Race/Identity

Digging Up The Roots: Transracial Adoptees Seek Truth

Susan Devan Harness, Lisa Marie Rollins, Greg Sarris, moderated by Katie Wynen

Saturday, May 4

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Separated from their birth families and raised by white parents, these writers were left to unravel their identities on their own, nursing the ache of loss as they put the pieces of their origin stories together. They have handled their experiences in different ways, some by telling their stories, others by forming community with other adoptees. Join writer, professor, and Native leader Greg Sarris, author and American Indian transracial adoption researcher Susan Devan Harness, and poet-playwright Lisa Marie Rollins for a discussion on how they found their histories, integrated a fractured sense of self, and came to understand home and family.

The Marsh - Cabaret

Sponsored by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Comics & Graphics
  • International
  • Race/Identity

Comic Consciousness: Graphic Novelists Tackle Cultural Identity and Crisis

Nora Krug, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, Juliana "Jewels" Smith, moderated by Ajuan Mance

Saturday, May 4

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

The book world can feel quite snobby at times, but comics don’t care where you come from. Unintimidating and inviting, comics can open the door to tough conversations about gentrification, genocide, natural disasters, and other uncomfortable truths. Armed with humor, wit, and vulnerability, writer-graphic novelists Nora Krug (“Belonging”), Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez (“Ricanstruction”), and Juliana “Jewels” Smith (“(H)afrocentric Comics”) dive into the task of turning their most naked fears and haunting questions about survival and belonging into compelling visual storytelling.

The Marsh - Theater

With the support of the initiative "Wunderbar Together,“ initiated by the German Federal Foreign Office, the Goethe Institut, and the Federation of German Industries (BDI); the Goethe-Institut San Francisco; and Goethe-Institut’s translation support program "Books First"

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

What Women Want

Aya de Leon, Laura Lindstedt, Lisa Locascio, Tamsen Wolff, moderated by Lisa D. Gray

Saturday, May 4

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Join a lively roundtable of four writers with very different novels that address the question of “what women want” in provocative ways. In Aya de Leon’s series of feminist heist novels (latest is “Side Chick Nation”), feisty, sexy women rob the rich and protect the exploited. Finnish author Laura Lindstedt (“Oneiron”) depicts seven radically different women from around the world in a bardo after death, interacting by telling their stories. In “Open Me,” debut author Lisa Locascio has penned a beautifully written coming-of-age novel about a young woman discovering her sexual power. Tamsen Wolff’s “Juno’s Swans” tells a shattering story of friendship, love, and heartbreak between two women; it has been compared with the work of Elena Ferrante.

Veterans Memorial Building - Auditorium

With the support of FILI - Finnish Literature Exchange and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation; also with the support of Women Lit members

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Literary

Critic’s Choice: Three Young 21st Century Writers Rocking the Literary World

Jamel Brinkley, R.O. Kwon, Namwali Serpell, moderated by Jane Ciabattari

Saturday, May 4

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Get ready for some serious literary talent, all based in the Bay Area. Writer and books columnist Jane Ciabattari, former president of the National Book Critics Circle, has highlighted three authors for your attention. Jamel Brinkley was a finalist for the National Book Award with “A Lucky Man,” a collection of stories about men and boys that explores race and class. Like Brinkley, our next author, R.O. Kwon, was a finalist for the NBCC’s John Leonard Award for a first book; “The Incendiaries” burns with keen, spare prose that tells the story of a college student caught up in a religious cult. Namwali Serpell, a winner of the Caine Prize for African writing, has penned an electrifying debut, “The Old Drift”—an epic story of a small African nation and a panorama of history, fairytale, romance and science fiction. All three writers will sign your books after the talk!

Berkeley City College - Auditorium

12:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Free
  • Outdoor (Free)

American Prison: Interview with Shane Bauer

Shane Bauer interviewed by John Diaz

Saturday, May 4

12:15 PM - 1:15 PM

“Solitary in Iran nearly broke me. Then I went Inside America’s prisons.” That was the title of the award-winning 2012 Mother Jones story by reporter Shane Bauer, who, after being detained for two years in a notorious prison in Iran, returned to journalism and took on an astonishing assignment: to go undercover as a guard in a private prison in Louisiana. His book “American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment” is a riveting, blistering indictment of the private prison system—a relic of Southern slavery—and the powerful forces that drive it. One of President Obama’s favorite books of 2018, it was named a New York Times Top 10 Best Book of the year.

San Francisco Chronicle Stage in the Park

Sponsored by Mother Jones Magazine

12:45 PM
  • 2019
  • Free
  • Teen
  • Writing & Publishing

Someone Like Me: Seeing Ourselves in the Books We Read

Cindy Pon and Lee Wind, moderated by Riya Kataria

Saturday, May 4

12:45 PM - 2:00 PM

When you open a book, do you see yourself in its pages? Do the characters look or think like you? Cindy Pon fought hard to publish one of the first Young Adult fantasy novels with an Asian protagonist on the U.S. market. Lee Wind’s queer history book was canceled by the publisher for being too controversial, but he found a way to publish it anyway. The two dig into why kids (and adults) need diverse characters and how they fight against the bias and blindspots of the publishing world.

Florence Schwimley Little Theater

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Environment/Nature
  • Travel

Outdoor Therapy: National Parks with Becky Lomax

Becky Lomax interviewed by Kaylé Barnes

Saturday, May 4

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Need a break from the traffic and stress of city life? Ready for a technology detox? Let Becky Lomax, author of “Moon USA National Parks,” be your “outdoor therapist” with wise advice on choosing the park that’s just right for unwinding. From the misty mountains of the east and the redwoods of the west, to the glaciers of Alaska and volcanoes of Hawaii, Lomax reveals the top experiences in each of the 59 parks throughout the U.S. With deep knowledge of each park, she explains where to go for maximum solitude or a family’s first camping trip. Lomax will even demonstrate the expert way to pack all of your essentials for a good, long hike. Interviewed by Kaylé Barnes of The Great Outchea.

Berkeley City College - Auditorium

Sponsored by Moon Travel Guides

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Environment/Nature

Sand and Seeds: The Surprising Stories Behind Humanity’s Most Vital Elements

Vince Beiser and Mark Schapiro, moderated by Joshua S. Fouts

Saturday, May 4

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Without seeds, there is no food; without sand, there are no cities. Both are resources central to life on our planet. One element is animate, one inanimate. But both are at the center of global battles to control them, and both are threatened by corporate consolidation and climate change. Two leading journalists, Mark Schapiro (“Seeds of Resistance”) and Vince Beiser (“World in a Grain”), take us deep into the stories and futures of these vital elements—stories that are quirky, dramatic, and urgent.

Brower Center - Goldman Theater

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

Writing Irish

Catherine Ryan Howard, Mike McCormack, Emilie Pine, moderated by Rosemary Graham

Saturday, May 4

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Three celebrated Irish writers join the Festival this year. Mike McCormack has won wide acclaim for his moving and innovative third novel, “Solar Bones,” which Booklist called “a work of bold risks and luminous creativity.” Catherine Ryan Howard burst onto the Irish literary scene with her propulsive thriller “Distress Signals” and has quickly gained an international reputation for her “slick and stylish” and “psychologically acute” writing. The Irish Times proclaimed Emilie Pine’s searching “Notes to Self” “the kind of book you want to give to everyone,” though Anne Enright cautioned against reading it in public because “it will make you cry.”

Brower Center - Tamalpais Room

With the support of Culture Ireland

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • ASL Interpreted programming
  • History
  • Outdoor (Free)
  • Race/Identity

Prophet of Freedom: Frederick Douglass

2019 Pulitzer Prize winner David Blight interviewed by Otis R. Taylor Jr.

Saturday, May 4

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Frederick Douglass was arguably the most important African American of the nineteenth century, an escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era. Come hear from David Blight, American history scholar and author of the new, definitive biography “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” which just won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for history. The book also was selected as a Top Ten Book of 2018 by the New York Times and numerous other outlets. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Otis R. Taylor, Jr. interviews Blight and helps uncover this towering figure that Blight calls “thoroughly and beautifully human.”

This program will have ASL interpreters.

San Francisco Chronicle Stage in the Park

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Literary

A Celebration of The Paris Review

Franny Choi, R.O. Kwon, Kiese Laymon, Emily Nemens, moderated by Christian Kiefer

Saturday, May 4

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

The Paris Review is one of the most esteemed and beloved literary magazines in the world. Established in 1953 in Paris, moving to New York in 1973, it became famed for its “Writer at Work” interviews, which have been anthologized, most recently into two “Women at Work” volumes. Known for promoting new talent alongside established voices, The Paris Review publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic literature, interviews, and more in its bound quarterly issues and online Paris Review Daily. We’re joined by its new editor, Emily Nemens, in a roundtable led by Christian Kiefer (the magazine’s West Coast editor) along with contributors Franny Choi, R.O. Kwon, and Kiese Laymon.

Freight & Salvage

Co-presented with The Paris Review

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • History

Daring to Dream of a More Just World: Conversation with Adam Hochschild

Adam Hochschild interviewed by Julia Flynn Siler

Saturday, May 4

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Bestselling author Adam Hochschild’s new collection of essays explores, as he writes, “people who took a stand against despotism, who spoke out against unjust wars, or who saw the evils of institutions like slavery or colonialism when, all around them, others took such things for granted.” “Lessons from a Dark Time” profiles the survivor-director of a Congolese center for rape victims, the humane penal system in Finland, Mandela on the campaign trail—and much more. A Festival favorite, Hochschild has the skills of a journalist, the knowledge of a historian, and the heart of an activist.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Boiler Room

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers

Nordic Noir

Stefan Ahnhem, Jonas Bonnier, Kjell Ola Dahl, Ragnar Jonasson, Jenny Rogneby, moderated by Randal Brandt

Saturday, May 4

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Mystery lovers, buckle up for one of the Festival’s most popular sessions. Hailed for combining the darkness of Nordic Noir with classic mystery writing, Ragnar Jonasson’s books are haunting, atmospheric, and complex. Kjell Ola Dahl’s latest, “The Ice Swimmer,” was called “a masterclass in plotting, atmosphere and character” by the Times Crime Club. Crowned “the new queen of Nordic Noir,” Jenny Rogneby’s Leona Lindberg series are hard-boiled crime novels, filled with unexpected twists and turns and featuring an unusual heroine. In Publishers Weekly, Stefan Ahnhem’s “Eighteen Below” was extolled for how it “unflinchingly unveils the monstrous crimes lurking beneath Scandinavia’s seemingly placid surface.” This session is moderated by Randal Brandt, curator of the Bancroft Library’s California Detective Fiction Collection.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

With the support of Iceland Naturally, the Icelandic Literature Center, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, the Consulate General of Sweden in San Francisco, SWEA (Swedish Women's Educational Association) San Francisco, the Norway House Foundation, and NORLA - Norwegian Literature Abroad

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Literary

Human Face: Literature That Brings Human Rights To Life

Atia Abawi, Aaron Bobrow-Strain, Eliot Pattison, moderated by Clara Long

Saturday, May 4

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Storytelling can bring depth, humanity, and understanding to the headlines. “A Land of Permanent Goodbyes” depicts a young boy who must escape from war-torn Syria, masterfully told by journalist Atia Abawi, who witnessed the crisis firsthand. In “The Death and Life of Aída Hernandez,” Aaron Bobrow-Strain follows an undocumented teen mom and reveals the human consequences of militarizing what was once a more forgiving border. With “Bones of the Earth,” Eliot Pattison concludes his mystery series set in Tibet, which he writes about so readers can “understand what it feels like to witness an armed policeman assault a praying monk.”


Watch the full episode


Magnes Museum

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Environment/Nature
  • Literary
  • Poetry

Political Optimism, Political Despair, and the Wilderness

Pam Houston, Katie Peterson, moderated by Lucille Lang Day

Saturday, May 4

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

In this intimate conversation moderated by Lucille Lang Day (editor of the new anthology “Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California”), memoirist Pam Houston (“Deep Creek”) and poet Katie Peterson (“A Piece of Good News”) discuss the case for optimism and joy in our troubled American landscape. Across ranchland, mountains, borderlands, and deserts, these women will explore how our political discussion is shaped by our land, and how care for our wild spaces can change the way we think about our future.

The Marsh - Cabaret

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Culture
  • Literary
  • Poetry

How the Songs Work: The Poetry of Bob Dylan

Timothy Hampton and Greil Marcus, moderated by Ramona Naddaff

Saturday, May 4

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Delve into the songs of the musical icon who sparked a folk movement in the early 1960s and went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. In “Bob Dylan’s Poetics: How the Songs Work,” UC Berkeley professor Timothy Hampton illuminates both the poetics and politics of Dylan’s compositions. Hampton is in conversation with the renowned cultural critic Greil Marcus, whose own, seminal 2005 book on Dylan—”Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads”—explored the poetry, musicality, and social moment of that iconic song.

The Marsh - Theater

Sponsored by Reed Schmidt

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Race/Identity

Let The World Move: Speculative Fiction From the Periphery

Lesley Nneka Arimah, Alice Sola Kim, Carmen Maria Machado, moderated by Namwali Serpell

Saturday, May 4

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

“I stood at the border, stood at the edge and claimed it as central,” Toni Morrison said, “Claimed it as central, and let the rest of the world move over to where I was.” First and second-generation immigrant writers Lesley Nneka Arimah, Alice Sola Kim, Carmen Maria Machado, and Namwali Serpell tackle the mysterious, the wild, the terrifying, and the magical in their speculative fiction. With rich and enthralling work that defies convention, they are creating a cultural shift in the literary landscape.

Veterans Memorial Building - Auditorium

Presented by the UC Berkeley English Department and the Peripheral Futures Working Group; also with the support of Women Lit members

3:00 PM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Free
  • Outdoor (Free)

Dear America: An Interview with Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas interviewed by Kate Campbell

Saturday, May 4

3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Jose Antonio Vargas was sixteen when, signing up to take a driver’s test at his local DMV, he discovered his green card was fake. Now he’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and the founder of Define American, an organization that fights anti-immigrant hate through the power of storytelling. But his future still hangs in the balance. In “Dear America,” Vargas divulges how he came out first as gay and then as undocumented, reflecting on the high cost of hiding from the government and himself (currently subject to deportation at any time, he has no permanent residence). Illuminating the purgatory of fear people without papers are forced to live in and posing questions about passing and the true meaning of citizenship, Vargas urges us to reconsider the assumptions we make.

Sponsored by North Berkeley Investment Partners


Watch the full episode


San Francisco Chronicle Stage in the Park

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs

Beyond the Bars: Alternatives to Prison and Punishment

Lara Bazelon, Tony Platt, Albert Woodfox, moderated by Rachel Herzing

Saturday, May 4

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

What could the world look like without prisons? What kinds of healing—what new definitions of justice—could take their place? Join University of San Francisco law professor Lara Bazelon (“Rectify”), activist Tony Platt (“Beyond These Walls”), and Albert Woodfox (“Solitary”), one of the Angola 3 who spent decades in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit. They look at the violent history behind mass incarceration and imagine alternatives.

Berkeley City College - Auditorium

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Race/Identity

Writer to Writer: Ishmael Reed and Morgan Parker

Morgan Parker and Ishmael Reed, moderated by Ismail Muhammad

Saturday, May 4

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

In our Writer to Writer series, two authors who are fans of each other’s work come together for conversation. Join this cross-generational conversation between two dynamic Black American writers and cultural critics exploring the history and future of the American literary landscape. The legendary Ishmael Reed, Macarthur Genius Fellow, founder of the Before Columbus Foundation, and author of over 30 books including his newest “Conjugating Hindi,” sits down with rising literary star Morgan Parker, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, Pushcart Prize winner, and author of the new poetry collection “Magical Negro.”

Brower Center - Goldman Theater

Sponsored by Zoetic Press

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

The Heart of a Child

Rene Denfeld, Hanne Ørstavik, Duanwad Pimwana, Mui Poopoksakul, moderated by Elizabeth Rosner

Saturday, May 4

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Come hear three writers who, like children themselves, will break your heart then put it back together again. Rene Denfeld is a former chief investigator at a public defender’s office and foster adoptive parent; her novel “The Child Finder” depicts an investigator using child-savvy skills to find a missing girl. Duanwad Pimwana, the first female Thai novelist translated into English, has written a poignant novel in stories, “Bright,” about a boy abandoned in a village. Hanne Ørstavik won international acclaim for “Love,” which tells of a mother and young son who each are locked in their loneliness; the tragedy is all the more keen when rendered in such gorgeous prose.

Brower Center - Tamalpais Room

With the support of the Center for the Art of Translation, Norway House Foundation, and NORLA - Norwegian Literature Abroad; also with the support of Women Lit members

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Culture
  • Free
  • Poetry

On a Symphonic Note: Berkeley Symphony & the Bay Area Book Festival Present Original Music Celebrating Bay Area Poets

Genny Lim, Innosanto Nagara, Rachel Richardson

Saturday, May 4

3:15 PM - 4:45 PM

Take a respite from the crowds of the festival! The Berkeley Symphony and Bay Area Book Festival present the world premiere of four original musical compositions, by Ursula Kwong-Brown, Aiyana Braun, Peter Shin, and Tristan Koster, interpreting musically the work of four poets, most local to the Bay Area. Genny Lim, Innosanto Nagara, and Rachel Richardson (on behalf of Brenda Hillman) will read their poems, with each reading followed by the musical composition. Enjoy.

Florence Schwimley Little Theater

Co-presented with the Berkeley Symphony, and made possible by a partnership with the San Francisco Conservatory and the Hamburg Conservatory

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Culture
  • Race/Identity

Old in Art School, Young at Heart: Interview with Nell Painter

Nell Painter interviewed by Lance Knobel

Saturday, May 4

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Who gets to be called an artist? In this frank, funny, and often surprising tale of her move from academia to art, historian Nell Painter chronicles her retirement from Princeton University and enrollment in art school at the age of 64. Surrounded by classmates a third of her age, Painter confesses how art school changed her view of what she thought she already knew and examines how women and artists are seen and judged by their age, looks, and race. Meet the multi-talented woman behind “Old in Art School” and learn more about the story that Tayari Jones calls “a cup of courage for everyone who wants to change their lives.”

Freight & Salvage

Sponsored by Berkeleyside; also with the support of Women Lit members

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Writing & Publishing

University of San Francisco MFA in Writing Presents: Impossible Choices and Unspeakable Acts

Kirstin Chen, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Nayomi Munaweera, moderated by Beth Nguyen

Saturday, May 4

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

No matter the borders crossed or the time gone by, these novels’ protagonists are driven by demons they can’t seem to outrun. Kirstin Chen, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, and Nayomi Munaweera—all novelist-teachers from the University of San Francisco MFA. in Writing program—dig into the challenges of writing characters who are haunted by their pasts. Here they share the narrative tools they use to push their characters to the very edge and keep the reader turning the page.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Boiler Room

Sponsored by the University of San Francisco MFA in Writing program

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

Which Side Are You On? Loyalty in Fiction

Christian Kiefer, Lauren Wilkinson, Takis Würger, moderated by Frances Dinkespiel

Saturday, May 4

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Fiction can illuminate the lived experience of intense inner conflict. Torn between community and country, struggling with duty and desire, and stuck in the gray area between right and wrong, the characters in these novels are pulled in competing directions. Christian Kiefer (“Phantoms”), Lauren Wilkinson (“American Spy”), and Takis Würger (“The Club”) create dynamic worlds in dazzling prose where dangerous secrets bubble just under the surface and protagonists must ask themselves who to believe and who to blame.

With the support of the initiative “Wunderbar Together,“ initiated by the German Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe Institut, and supported by the Federation of German Industries (BDI); the Goethe-Institut San Francisco; and Goethe-Institut’s translation support program “Books First”


Watch the full episode


Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary
  • Writing & Publishing

Writer to Writer: Geir Gulliksen with John Freeman

Geir Gulliksen and John Freeman

Saturday, May 4

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

This Writer to Writer conversation is a literary treasure trove: Two bestselling authors who are also top editors and critics come together to discuss their writing, the editing process, the state of the publishing industry in the U.S. and Europe, and translation. Geir Gulliksen is among Norway’s leading novelists; his latest is “The Story of a Marriage,” a searing novel about a man who attempts to empathetically understand his wife’s infidelity. Gulliksen also is a top editor at Norway’s major publishing house, Forlaget Oktober, where he has edited Karl One Knausgaard, Linn Ullmann, and others. John Freeman is one of today’s preeminent literary critics who also publishes literary nonfiction, much of it focused passionately on social justice issues (such as “Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation”), as well as poetry (“Maps”). Editor of the international literary journal Granta for many years, and former president of the National Book Critics Circle, he founded the biannual journal Freeman’s in 2017 to publish short fiction, non-fiction and poetry from literary luminaries as well as emerging voices worldwide.

Magnes Museum

With the support of the Norway House Foundation, NORLA - Norwegian Literature Abroad, and Zoetic Press

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Environment/Nature
  • Literary

Writing Climate: Literature of the Anthropocene

Charlie Jane Anders, Cai Emmons, Brenda Shaughnessy, moderated by David Wallace-Wells

Saturday, May 4

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

The 20th century brought us “1984” and “Brave New World” as harbingers of terrifying social and technological change. In the 21st century, we have climate literature. Brenda Shaughnessy gives us “The Octopus Museum,” bold poems that imagine what comes after our current age of environmental destruction. Charlie Jane Anders (called “this generation’s Le Guin”) presents “The City in the Middle of the Night,” where humanity lives in a barely habitable dusk on the planet January. In Cai Emmons’ “Weather Woman,” a young TV meteorologist discovers that she can tap the energies of the earth to alter the weather. Moderated by David Wallace-Wells, author of “The Uninhabitable Earth” and former deputy editor of The Paris Review.

Veterans Memorial Building - Auditorium

4:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Culture
  • Free
  • Outdoor (Free)

Then It Fell Apart: An Interview with Moby

Moby interviewed by Peter Hartlaub

Saturday, May 4

4:30 PM - 5:45 PM

What happens when you have everything you’ve ever wanted but still feel completely empty? In the summer of 1999, Moby released PLAY, an album that helped define the millennium and catapulted him to superstardom. Suddenly he was hanging out with David Bowie and Lou Reed, Christina Ricci and Madonna, taking ecstasy for breakfast (most days), and drinking bottles of vodka (every day)… a diet that couldn’t last. In his shocking, riotously entertaining second memoir, “Then It Fell Apart,” Moby takes us through the dark heart of fame to rock bottom and into recovery. Bonus: though this session isn’t a concert, we may persuade Moby to perform a couple of acoustic songs. Interviewed by Peter Hartlaub, the San Francisco Chronicle’s pop culture critic.

San Francisco Chronicle Stage in the Park

5:00 PM
  • 2019
  • Writing & Publishing

A New Dimension: The Radical Power of Virtual Reality Storytelling

Nathalie Mathé, Lakshmi Sarah, Kevin Tsukii, moderated by Siciliana Trevino

Saturday, May 4

5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

We are witnessing a revolution in storytelling. Publications all over the world are increasingly using immersive storytelling tools—virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality—to tell urgent and impactful stories. Examining ground-breaking work across industries, journalist and educator Lakshmi Sarah (“Crafting Stories For Virtual Reality”) illuminates how storytellers can create their own powerful immersive experiences that build worlds and shift consciousness. Join this group of VR creatives, writers, and changemakers for a conversation on the future of storytelling.

Brower Center - Goldman Theater

5:00 PM
  • 2019
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality

The Astrological Grimoire

Helen Shewolfe Tseng in conversation with Dorothy R. Santos

Saturday, May 4

5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

Get witchy and deepen your creative practice with the holistic and customizable tools for astrological self-discovery inside “The Astrological Grimoire” by author, designer, and co-host of BFF.fm’s Astral Projection Radio Hour, Helen Shewolfe Tseng. Divided into 12 chapters, one for each sign, the book offers horoscopes based on moon phase and “mood phase”—emotions and life events—so you can always find a horoscope that speaks to your current life moment.

Brower Center - Tamalpais Room

5:00 PM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers

Noir at the Bar

Stefan Ahnhem, Cara Black, Jonas Bonnier, Kjell Ola Dahl, Heather Haven, Catherine Ryan Howard, Ragnar Jonasson, Jenny Rogneby, moderated by Laurie R. King

Saturday, May 4

5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

A Festival favorite is back! Grab a drink and settle in for an hour of gasp-inducing, nail-biting, scintillating stories from these virtuosos of crime fiction hailing from across Scandinavia, Ireland, and the United States.

Freight & Salvage

With the support of Iceland Naturally, the Icelandic Literature Center, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, the Consulate General of Sweden in San Francisco, SWEA (Swedish Women's Educational Association) San Francisco, the Norway House Foundation, and NORLA - Norwegian Literature Abroad

5:00 PM
  • 2019
  • Writing & Publishing

100% Indie

April Eberhardt, J.K. Fowler, Joel Friedlander, Mg Roberts, moderated by Brooke Warner

Saturday, May 4

5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

If your dream is to see yourself in print, there is more than one way to get there. Learn why many authors are choosing the indie route. Experts from all arenas of the industry—agenting, book design, editing, and authorship—speak to the entire process of independent publishing from cover to cover.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

5:00 PM
  • 2019
  • ASL Interpreted programming
  • Race/Identity
  • Writing & Publishing

A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity, and Craft

Camille Acker, Dickson Lam, Ismail Muhammad, David Mura, moderated by David Roderick

Saturday, May 4

5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

To write race and ethnicity well, we need the right tools and the right reading list. Building multidimensional worlds that don’t rely on assumptions or defaults takes practice (and guts). Fortunately, master memoirist and creative writing instructor David Mura is here to help. In “A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity, and Narrative Craft in Writing,” Mura delves into how race structures our reality, shaping the way we write and how we expect to be read. He offers techniques and introduces new ways of seeing. Join three writer-teachers of color—Dickson Lam, Ismail Muhammad, and David Mura—as they unpack the questions of identity that drive their writing, mark the pitfalls of self-exotification, and weigh the rewards of penning richer, riskier work.

This program will have ASL interpreters.

Veterans Memorial Building - Auditorium

7:00 PM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin: Film and Conversation

Arwen Curry, Annalee Newitz, Kim Stanley Robinson, David Streitfeld, moderated by Charlie Jane Anders

Saturday, May 4

7:00 PM - 9:30 PM

“Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words,” said Ursula K. Le Guin in her courageous speech upon receiving the 2014 American National Book Foundation Medal. (She called for literary freedom and condemned unbridled capitalism.) Le Guin’s impact on literature can hardly be overstated. Our tribute to Le Guin, who died last year at 88, will start by screening the recent documentary about her life, “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin.” A conversation will follow with Arwen Curry, the filmmaker; Annalee Newitz, journalist and author most recently of the novel “Autonomous”; Kim Stanley Robinson, Le Guin’s friend and sci-fi legend; and David Streitfeld, reporter and author of the new compilation “Ursula K. Le Guin: The Last Interview and Other Conversations.”

Freight & Salvage

With the support of Women Lit members

7:30 PM
  • 2019
  • ASL Interpreted programming
  • Current Affairs

FESTIVAL KEYNOTE
Enough Is Enough: Fighting Economic Injustice

Anand Giridharadas, Robert Reich, and Kat Taylor

Saturday, May 4

7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Each year, the Festival Keynote presents a fearless writer you simply must hear, someone who brings insight on a topic that concerns us all. This year, that topic is economic injustice, and the writer is Anand Giridharadas, author of “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.” We present him in conversation with two change makers: former Secretary of Labor and author Robert Reich (“The Common Good”), and impact investor and financial justice advocate Kat Taylor, who will lead the evening’s discussion. In “Winners Take All,” Giridharadas explores how elites rig the game and try to pull gilded wool over our eyes, and how these practices impoverish you, yours, and democratic government itself. The conversation will reveal the hypocrisies of the 1% and explain how the wealth gap grew. You’ll also hear about efforts underway to create the kind of deep systems change necessary to bring true prosperity to all.

Admission as with other Festival indoor events: $10 Priority Ticket to guarantee your seat, or General Admission Wristband access on first-come, first-served basis.

Presented by Beneficial State Bank, which provides economically and environmentally sustainable banking and promotes change in the financial industry

This program will have ASL interpreters.

Berkeley Community Theater

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Native American
  • Race/Identity
  • Writing & Publishing

Straddling Worlds: Native Writers Reinvent Identity

Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Susan Devan Harness, Tommy Pico, and Rebecca Roanhorse, moderated by Greg Sarris

Sunday, May 5

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

What does it mean to be a modern indigenous person, particularly when indigenous identity has been so riddled with stereotypes and when the category is so wide-reaching? Join Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Susan Devan Harness, Tommy Pico, and Rebecca Roanhorse as they plunge into the paradox of Native identity politics and discuss how it manifests in their writing.

Brower Center - Goldman Theater

Sponsored by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs

The Heart of Hate

Bradley Hart, Bill Ong Hing, Arjun Sethi, moderated by Dennis J. Bernstein

Sunday, May 5

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

“No one is born hating another person,” Nelson Mandela famously said. “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love.” With the threat of fascism looming around the world, human rights activist Arjun Singh Sethi (“American Hate”), historian Bradley Hart (“Hitler’s American Friends”), and immigration attorney Bill Ong Hing (“American Presidents, Deportations, and Human Rights Violations”) reveal the roots of hateful political ideologies in the United States and bear witness to survivors of hate crimes, police violence, mass detention, and deportation. They chart a course for unlearning hatred and bigotry. Moderated by Dennis J. Bernstein, host of KPFA’s program Flashpoint.

Brower Center - Tamalpais Room

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Environment/Nature

The Uninhabitable Earth

David Wallace-Wells interviewed by Julian Brave NoiseCat

Sunday, May 5

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Journalist David Wallace-Wells warns that climate change could make parts of the earth nearly uninhabitable unless we take action now. “‘The Uninhabitable Earth’ is the most terrifying book I have ever read,” wrote Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times, saying that “its method is scientific, but its mode is Old Testament. The book is a meticulously documented, white-knuckled tour through the cascading catastrophes that will soon engulf our warming planet.” This is a literary account—Andrew Solomon praised the book’s “overflow of insanely lyrical prose”—but an urgent one. There’s still time, but only a generation, to prevent these scenarios from coming true. Wallace-Wells is interviewed by Julian Brave NoiseCat, a young indigenous activist, writer, and policy analyst at 350.org.


Watch the full episode


Freight & Salvage

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality
  • Women/Gender

Goddesses, Grandmothers, and the Everyday Divine

Hallie Iglehart Austen and Vijaya Nagarajan, moderated by Arisika Razak

Sunday, May 5

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Start your morning by celebrating the Divine Feminine, as millions of women do around the globe. In “The Heart of the Goddess: Art, Myth and Meditations of the World’s Sacred Feminine,” scholar-practitioner Hallie Iglehart Austen shares female imagery throughout time, challenging dominant narratives about human nature. In “Feeding A Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual, and Ecology in India,” Professor Vijaya Nagarajan explores the ritual of Tamil women who rise each dawn to create kolams, rice-flour designs that honor Hindu goddesses and incorporate concepts of beauty, mathematics, generosity, and even climate chaos. Moderator Arisika Razak, professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), is a healer, ritualist, spiritual dancer, and educator who practices an eclectic mix of Earth-based spiritual traditions.

Sponsored by the California Institute of Integral Studies


Watch the full episode


Magnes Museum

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

Resurrection: Reclaiming the Stories That Make Us Whole

Alexandria Brown, Mallory O’Meara, Cherríe Moraga, moderated by Shizue Seigel

Sunday, May 5

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

“If we forget ourselves, who will be left to remember us?” asks Cherríe Moraga in the prologue of “Native Country of the Heart.” Start your Sunday by journeying with three remarkable writers who delve into the politics of remembering. Learn about a visionary designer who disappeared from the Hollywood horror scene, thanks to a jealous male colleague; a Mexican-American mother whose eroding memory endangers a daughter’s connection to her roots; and—because “place” carries memory too—a region, the Napa Valley, whose reputation for lush vineyards and luxury homes eclipses its history of struggle.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Boiler Room

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • ASL Interpreted programming
  • Current Affairs
  • Literary
  • Writing & Publishing

Courage in Publishing in an Age of Political Polarization

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Jane Ciabattari, John Freeman, Carlos Lozada, Michael Naumann, Emily Nemens, moderated by Cherilyn Parsons

Sunday, May 5

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

This roundtable brings together some of the leading lights in publishing to discuss the industry and the state of literature. Kwame Anthony Appiah is the weekly Ethicist columnist for The New York Times and author of “The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity.” Jane Ciabattari is former president of the National Book Critics Circle and books columnist for BBC Culture and Literary Hub. John Freeman is a poet, author, former editor of Granta, and editor of Freeman’s literary journal. Carlos Lozada is the nonfiction book critic for The Washington Post and just won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Michael Naumann has been the German secretary of culture, publisher of Die Zeit, and publisher at Rowohlt Verlag; at Henry Holt & Company in the 1990s he was involved in publishing Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses.” Emily Nemens is a writer and editor of The Paris Review. Moderator Cherilyn Parsons is the founder and director of the Bay Area Book Festival.

This program will have ASL interpreters.


Watch the full episode


Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

With support from the initiative "Wunderbar Together,“ initiated by the German Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe Institut, and supported by the Federation of German Industries (BDI)

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Poetry

State Lines: New and Emerging California Poets

Jason Bayani, James Cagney, Heather June Gibbons, Leticia Hernández-Linares, moderated by devorah major

Sunday, May 5

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

California has birthed some of the most vibrant cultural movements in the world and continues to attract artists, asylum seekers, and all manner of folks from around the world. But it’s also a hub of rampant displacement and rapidly changing technology. How do we reclaim ourselves from the wreckage? Join this fiercely talented group of emerging California poets for an exploration of intimacy, memory, and loneliness in a digital age. Moderated by San Francisco’s third Poet Laureate, devorah major.

The Marsh - Cabaret

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Literary

No Happy Endings, No Easy Answers: Seeking Truth Through Trauma

Lacy Johnson, Devi Laskar, Kiese Laymon, moderated by Sonya Shah

Sunday, May 5

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

How can we set aside the tidy boxes of revenge and resolution in favor of a greater reckoning with what haunts us most? Kiese Laymon (“Heavy”), Lacy Johnson (“The Reckonings”), and Devi Laskar (“The Atlas of Reds and Blues”) write their way exquisitely through trauma, picking it apart to understand its source, pushing past reductive conclusions and condemnations in pursuit of a richer, fuller truth. Hearing their journeys will change your own. Moderator Sonya Shah is associate professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) and a facilitator of restorative justice processes in families, communities, schools and prisons.

Sponsored by the California Institute of Integral Studies


Watch the full episode


The Marsh - Theater

10:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers

Bloodlines and Bestsellers: The Kellerman Family of Crime Writers

Faye Kellerman, Jesse Kellerman, Jonathan Kellerman, moderated by Mal Warwick

Sunday, May 5

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Just what do mega-bestselling crime writers Faye, Jonathan, and Jesse Kellerman talk about around the family dinner table? Perhaps they plot their next juicy thrillers, brainstorming the murders of their latest Jane or John Doe. After all, they do some great work together: Jonathan and Jesse have a new book that Stephen King calls “brilliant, page-turning fiction,” and Faye and Jonathan co-wrote the New York Times besteller “Double Homicide.” Meet an extraordinarily talented family of mystery masters.

Veterans Memorial Building - Auditorium

11:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Outdoor (Free)
  • Race/Identity

Writer to Writer: Esi Edugyan and Tayari Jones

Esi Edugyan and Tayari Jones, moderated by Caille Millner

Sunday, May 5

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

In our Writer to Writer series, two authors who are fans of each other’s work come together for conversation about writing and society today. Novelists Esi Edugyan and Tayari Jones both probe racial injustice in their work, and both women have received considerable praise. Edugyan’s sweeping, imaginative novel “Washington Black” was named a Top Ten Book of 2018 by the New York Times, and Tayari Jones’ “An American Marriage” was an Oprah’s Book Club pick for that same year. Edugyan uses magic realism to explore slavery and freedom in a stupendous tale that moves from Barbados to Nova Scotia to England. Jones weaves a devastating tapestry of a modern marriage wrenched apart by a discriminatory American justice system.

San Francisco Chronicle Stage in the Park

With the support of the Consulate General of Canada, San Francisco/Silicon Valley; She Writes Press; and Zoetic Press

11:00 AM
  • 2019
  • Free
  • Women/Gender
  • YA (Young Adult)

Fierce Femmes

Zoraida Córdova, Anna-Marie McLemore, Cindy Pon, moderated by Yodassa Williams

Sunday, May 5

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

No damsels in distress here! These powerful young women protagonists are almost as incredible as the writers who crafted them. Join Zoraida Córdova (“Bruja Born”), Anna-Marie McLemore (“Blanca Y Roja”), and Cindy Pon (“Ruse”) for a discussion on how their characters use their brains and brujería to devise a way out of serious danger.

Florence Schwimley Little Theater

With the support of Women Lit members

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Literary

Unlikely Alliances and Other Surprises in Historical Fiction

Yangsze Choo, Terry Gamble, Christopher Tilghman, moderated by Janis Cooke Newman

Sunday, May 5

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Lushly written, utterly engrossing, and often funny, these historical novels transport us to worlds full of surprising connections that cross divisions of class, race, and more. Yangsze Choo (“The Night Tiger”), Terry Gamble (“The Eulogist”), and Christopher Tilghman (“Thomas and Beal in the Midi”) explore power dynamics and tricky relationships from 1930’s colonial Malaysia, to pre-Civil War Ohio, to the streets of Paris and the vineyards of Midi at the close of the Victorian era. Moderated by Janis Cooke Newman, author of the historical novels “A Master Plan for Rescue” and “Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln” (USA Today’s Historical Novel of the Year).

Magnes Museum

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Environment/Nature
  • Native American

The Once and Future Forest: The Mighty Redwood

David Harris, Greg Sarris, David Rains Wallace, moderated by Sam Hodder

Sunday, May 5

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Ancient and mysterious as they are beautiful, the redwoods are an essential part of the California landscape. What are the inner workings of these giants, and what does the future hold? Save the Redwoods League and Heyday Books have produced a majestic, oversized, boxed book, “The Once and Future Forest,” that showcases the grandeur of the redwood ecosystems, explores their history and significance, and looks toward a more ecologically informed future. Sam Hodder, President & CEO of the Save the Redwoods League, will moderate a conversation featuring contributors David Harris, writer; Greg Sarris, activist, author, and chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria; and David Rains Wallace, natural history writer and conservationist.

Brower Center - Goldman Theater

Sponsored by Guy and Jeanine Saperstein

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Culture
  • Current Affairs

The Lies That Bind: Kwame Anthony Appiah on Identity

Kwame Anthony Appiah interviewed by 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner Carlos Lozada

Sunday, May 5

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Kwame Anthony Appiah, who writes the weekly Ethicist column for the New York Times, “could variously be described as biracial, Ghanaian British, an Asante, a Londoner, and a gay cis man,” said Booklist. But rather than citing these facts as qualification to write on identity, Appiah opens his fascinating analysis, “The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity,” with an anecdote about ambiguity: taxi drivers struggling to figure him out. Taking us on a tour through history and philosophy, Appiah explores the compulsion to define and gather around identity (religious, cultural, racial, national), and the pitfalls that lurk therein. How do groups struggling for justice use, or misuse, identity toward their ends? How can a more nuanced understanding bring us together, not further apart? Appiah is interviewed by The Washington Post’s Carlos Lozada, who just won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for criticism.


Watch the full episode


Freight & Salvage

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

Seeking Connection: Literature from Germany and Switzerland

Dorothee Elmiger, Nora Krug, Katja Petrowskaja, Takis Würger, moderated by Sabine Kieselbach

Sunday, May 5

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Where is my place in the world? Where do I belong? Four distinct voices from Germany and Switzerland explore these questions in their work, all bestsellers in Europe. In “Maybe Esther,” Katja Petrowskaja creates a kind of literary family tree, in luminous prose delving into legends and history. Takis Würger’s “The Club” is a smoldering story of class, privilege, love, and moral ambiguity, centered around an elite club at Cambridge University. In Dorothee Elmiger’s “Shift Sleepers,” refugees, workers, inspectors, artists, and ghosts meet in a forest and converse about the meaning of homeland, safety, happiness, and more. In “Belonging,” Nora Krug confronts the hidden truths of her family’s wartime past in Nazi Germany to comprehend the forces that have shaped her life, her generation, and history. Come discover these new voices in translation, one of the most exciting areas in literature today.

With the support of the initiative “Wunderbar Together,“ initiated by the German Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe Institut, and supported by the Federation of German Industries (BDI); the Goethe-Institut San Francisco; Goethe-Institut’s translation support program “Books First”; also supported by the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco and Pro Helvetia


Watch the full episode


Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Boiler Room

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

On Not Mothering

Sheila Heti, Emilie Pine, Grace Talusan, moderated by Nayomi Munaweera

Sunday, May 5

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Whether it’s by choice or chance, not mothering is still considered taboo. Talked about in hushed tones and regarded with pity or disdain, women who don’t mother are made to feel like failures. But what are the windows of possibility opened up by a child-free life? What other kinds of nurturing can happen in its place? Brazen in their vulnerability, Sheila Heti (“Motherhood”), Grace Talusan (“The Body Papers”), and Emilie Pine (“Notes to Self”) break the silence on not mothering, addressing the assumptions, stigmas, and surprising rewards head-on.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

With the support of the Consulate General of Canada, San Francisco/Silicon Valley; Culture Ireland; and the members of Women Lit

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

Love and Family: The Primal Longing

Lydia Fitzpatrick, Rachel Howard, Hanne Ørstavik, moderated by Aída Salazar

Sunday, May 5

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

The longing for family—for a core sense of love and belonging—drives the novels written by these highly empathetic writers. Lydia Fitzpatrick tells a spellbinding story of the fierce bond between two young brothers determined to find a way back to each other across continents. Rachel Howard tackles not only kinship but what can destroy it; a forty-something couple become foster parents to a girl so difficult that they have to decide whether to give her up. In beautiful prose that conveys unfulfilled longing, Hanne Ørstavik portrays a mother and son unable to connect on a snowy night in Norway. Come hear how these writers create such deep emotional experiences on the page.

Brower Center - Tamalpais Room

With the support of the Norway House Foundation and NORLA - Norwegian Literature Abroad

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • History
  • Literary

A Tale of True Love

Victoria Riskin interviewed by Joseph McBride

Sunday, May 5

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

She was the blonde in the diaphanous gown who was set by King Kong atop the Empire State Building. He was the longtime collaborator with Frank Capra and the Academy Award-winning screenwriter who wrote ornery, resilient women. It happened one night, we could say: They fell in love and embarked upon a marriage that was truly fairytale until it ended tragically. In “Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir,” their daughter, an acclaimed writer and producer, tells the story from Hollywood’s golden age.

The Marsh - Cabaret

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy

A People’s Future of the United States

Omar El Akkad, Charlie Jane Anders, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Justina Ireland, moderated by Vernon Keeve

Sunday, May 5

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

The imagination is our escape hatch, our resistance weapon, and a window to warn us where our choices can lead. In this spectacular collection of speculative fiction, writers set their sights on the road ahead, with stories that challenge American mythology, release us from chokeholds of history, and give us new futures to believe in. Blending the dystopian and the utopian, the commonplace and the strange, these tales are badass: pulsing with energy and imagination, vivid with struggle and resilience.

The Marsh - Theater

11:45 AM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Poetry

Lawrence Ferlinghetti at 100: A Tribute

Garrett Caples, Julien Poirier, Barbara Jane Reyes, Maw Shein Win, moderated by Emily Nemens

Sunday, May 5

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

“I am awaiting / perpetually and forever / a renaissance of wonder.” The legendary poet, playwright, publisher, and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti just turned 100! Author of over thirty books, co-founder of City Lights Books and City Lights Publishers, he shaped 20th century literature and continues to influence countless poets and writers. Join a celebration of Ferlinghetti’s centennial with Garrett Caples, poet and former arts journalist who interviewed Ferlinghetti for the current issue of The Paris Review; three City Lights-published poets, Julien Poirier, Barbara Jane Reyes and Maw Shein Win, who will read Ferlinghetti’s work; and moderator Emily Nemens, editor of The Paris Review.

Veterans Memorial Building - Auditorium

Co-presented with City Lights and The Paris Review

12:45 PM
  • 2019
  • Food
  • International
  • Outdoor (Free)

Season: An Interview with Nik Sharma

Nik Sharma interviewed by Sandhya Dirks

Sunday, May 5

12:45 PM - 1:45 PM

Nik Sharma is the beloved curator of the award-winning food blog “A Brown Table.” In “Season,” his stunning new book, he shares a treasury of ingredients, techniques, and flavors that combine in a way that’s both familiar and completely unexpected. These are recipes that take a journey from India by way of the American South to California. Though the dishes will take home cooks and their guests by surprise, there’s nothing intimidating here. “Season,” like Nik, welcomes everyone to the table.

San Francisco Chronicle Stage in the Park

Sponsored by SACHI

12:45 PM
  • 2019
  • Free
  • Poetry

Poetry For The People

Aya de Leon, Yvonne Onakeme Etaghene

Sunday, May 5

12:45 PM - 1:45 PM

Get fired up and inspired at this special performance featuring current and former students of June Jordan’s Poetry For The People program at UC Berkeley. Founded by the late June Jordan in 1991, Poetry For The People (P4P) is an arts and activism program that bridges the gap between the university and the larger community. Featuring P4P director, spoken word poet and professor of African American studies, Aya de Leon and poet-in-residence Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene.

Florence Schwimley Little Theater

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Comics & Graphics
  • Environment/Nature
  • Literary

A Bird’s Eye View: Attention, Observation, Birdwatching, and the Fine Art of Doing Nothing

Tim Dee, Jenny Odell, Jérémie Royer, moderated by Dan Brekke

Sunday, May 5

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Beyond clicks and checklists is an entire universe of deep listening and thoughtful observation. If we let them, natural spaces and creatures can show us how to slow down, to notice, and to reflect on modern life. Tim Dee (“Landfill: Notes on Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene”) comes to us from England; Jenny Odell (“How to Do Nothing”), from Oakland; and Jérémie Royer (“Audubon, On the Wings of the World,” a graphic novel), from France. These writer-artists and bird lovers explore the wonders that acts of attention can bring.

Brower Center - Goldman Theater

With the support of Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • History
  • Race/Identity
  • Women/Gender

From Captivity to Power: A Remarkable Story of Women Rising Up

Julia Flynn Siler interviewed by Lauren Schiller

Sunday, May 5

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

In her third book, journalist Julia Flynn Siler shows that women have always fought for each other, even a century before #MeToo. In “The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown” Siler profiles the women who surmounted racial and class barriers to free sex-trafficked Chinese immigrants at the end of the nineteenth century. Grounded in historical research, the book is an exhilarating tale of raids, bomb threats, and the 1906 San Francisco fire. Siler will be interviewed by Lauren Schiller, host of Inflection Point, the weekly radio program and podcast from KALW and PRX about women rising up.

Brower Center - Tamalpais Room

Co-presented with Inflection Point

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Race/Identity

A Conversation with Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones interviewed by Brooke Warner

Sunday, May 5

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Few writers have captured the spirit of the American South—its heart, its small-town intimacy, its scars from centuries of institutional racism—like Tayari Jones. Jones has the power to “touch us soul to soul with her words,” said Oprah, who dubbed Jones’ newest book, “An American Marriage,” a Book Club pick for 2018. In her novels, Jones takes these scars, including traumas around wrongful incarceration, and rubs them raw, creating masterful works of fiction with the power to transform a reader. She is interviewed by Brooke Warner of She Writes Press.

This program will have ASL interpreters.

Sponsored by She Writes Press; also with the support of Women Lit members


Watch the full episode


Freight & Salvage

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

Unquiet: An Encounter with Linn Ullmann – CANCELLED

Linn Ullmann interviewed by Vendela Vida

Sunday, May 5

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED due to an airline strike. Ticket purchasers will be refunded.

Hailed by Kirkus Reviews as “a brilliant meditation on time, mortality, and the limits of memory,” the latest novel by internationally acclaimed writer Linn Ullmann is assembled from conversations that an unnamed woman has with her father, a famous filmmaker, at the end of his life. In poignant and searing prose, “The Unquiet” explores grief, creativity, and love in a mesmerizing, elliptical journey through time and space. Ullmann is interviewed by writer and editor Vendela Vida.

Magnes Museum

With the support of the Norway House Foundation and NORLA - Norwegian Literature Abroad

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • ASL Interpreted programming
  • Current Affairs
  • History
  • Race/Identity

The Business of Brutality: Slavery and the Foundations of Capitalism

2019 Pulitzer Prize winner David Blight, Stephanie Jones-Rogers, Caitlin Rosenthal, moderated by Jennifer D. King

Sunday, May 5

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Look around. How much of our infrastructure—from roads and bridges to factories and food supplies—was built on the backs of American slaves? Three writer-researchers examine how the brutal history of slavery laid the foundation of American capitalism and shaped today’s racial and economic inequality. In “They Were Her Property,” Stephanie Jones-Rogers reveals the active role that white women played in the American slave economy. In “Accounting for Slavery,” Caitlin Rosenthal examines how elite planters turned their power over enslaved people into a productivity advantage. In “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” which just won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for history, David Blight investigates the legacy of the escaped slave and abolitionist, who wrote, “The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.”

Sponsored by the Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation


Watch the full episode


Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Poetry

Literature Will Save Your Life

Jill Bialosky, Niloufar Talebi, moderated by Rebecca Foust

Sunday, May 5

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Three writers celebrate the life-saving power of words. In her memoir “Poetry Will Save Your Life,” Jill Bialosky presents 51 favorite poems paired with personal accounts of the roles they’ve played in her life and society. Bialosky also is an Executive Editor at W.W. Norton and has edited some of the leading writers of our time. Niloufar Talebi’s memoir, “Self-Portrait in Bloom,” has been called a “brutally honest memoir of a life built by words, destroyed by words, rebuilt by words”; both this book and her forthcoming opera, “Abraham in Flames,” explore the power of the iconic Iranian poet Ahmed Shamlou. Moderator Rebecca Foust, Marin County Poet Laureate 2017-2019, has published six books of poetry and works as Poetry Editor for “Women’s Voices for Change.”

The Marsh - Cabaret

With the support of Women Lit members

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Free
  • Native American
  • YA (Young Adult)

Rattlesnake Wins Hummingbird’s Heart: A Word for Word Performance

Greg Sarris and Native youth of Sonoma County

Sunday, May 5

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

FREE — Experience indigenous legends the way they were passed down—through oral tradition. Word for Word Performing Arts Company is an ensemble whose mission is to tell great stories with elegant theatricality, staging performances of classic and contemporary fiction. Today’s performance features Native youth from Sonoma County presenting an adaptation of the story “Rattlesnake Wins Hummingbird’s Heart” from Greg Sarris’s collection “How a Mountain Was Made,” indigenous stories from Sonoma Mountain. How does a creature as lowly as Rattlesnake win the beautiful Hummingbird? What key does Rattlesnake possess? Come find out. Performance is 45 minutes, followed by discussion.

Sponsored by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria


Watch the full episode


The Marsh - Theater

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers

Mystery and Tragedy in Tibet: Interview with Bestselling Author Eliot Pattison

Eliot Pattison interviewed by Cherilyn Parsons

Sunday, May 5

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Few successful mystery authors are also prominent human rights advocates, notes a recent profile of Eliot Pattison in Publishers Weekly. Honored with Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award for “The Skull Mantra,” the first novel in his bestselling series set in Tibet, Pattison received Tibet House’s U.S. Art of Freedom Award a few years (and books) later. Pattison joins us upon the publication of “Bones of the Earth,” the 10th and final book in the bestselling Inspector Shan Tao Yun series, which uses the lens of mystery fiction to tell the world about the harsh treatment of Tibetans under Chinese rule. Come meet this highly unusual mystery master.

Veterans Memorial Building - Auditorium

1:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Literary

Fallout: Debut Fiction On Families in Crisis

Angie Kim, Chia-Chia Lin, Lauren Wilkinson, moderated by C Pam Zhang

Sunday, May 5

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

From a disastrous explosion in rural Virginia, to the unexplained disappearance of a sister in Alaska, to an assassination attempt on a special agent turned mother, these stories depict fractured families who are finding their way through crisis. Stunning debut novels by Angie Kim (“Miracle Creek”), Chia-Chia Lin (“The Unpassing”) and Lauren Wilkinson (“American Spy”) explore with reverence, suspense, and humor the secrets, resentments, and alliances of complicated families.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Boiler Room

2:00 PM
  • 2019
  • Comics & Graphics
  • Outdoor (Free)
  • Women/Gender

Cathy! The Celebrated Comic Strip Creator

Cathy Guisewite interviewed by Leah Garchik

Sunday, May 5

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

She’s baaa-ACK! More than forty years after the debut of her widely syndicated and nationally adored daily comic strip “Cathy,” Cathy Guisewite returns with her signature wit and warmth in the new book “Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault,” a funny, wise, poignant, and incredibly honest collection of essays about being a woman in what she lovingly calls “the panini generation.” Join Guisewite in conversation with Leah Garchik, beloved Features columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, for a discussion on navigating times of transition with humor and heart.

San Francisco Chronicle Stage in the Park

2:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Free
  • YA (Young Adult)

War Zone: Coming of Age in Times of Conflict

Atia Abawi, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, moderated by Lee Wind

Sunday, May 5

2:15 PM - 3:30 PM

What do you do when your world is suddenly turned upside down? Growing up is hard enough, but these teen protagonists must cope with loss and navigate violence completely out of their control. Atia Abawi’s “A Land of Permanent Goodbyes” follows Tareq, a kid forced to flee his home in war torn Syria. e.E. Charlton-Trujillo’s “Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution” features Angie, a high school sophomore mourning the death of her sister in Iraq. The three writers will discuss how they write about teenage trauma and resilience, and why these tough-to-write stories are so valuable to readers who need to find hope within their pages.

Florence Schwimley Little Theater

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

The Cost Is Everything: Marriage, Sex, and Love in Fiction

Geir Gulliksen, Christopher Tilghman, moderated by Sylvia Brownrigg

Sunday, May 5

3:15 PM - 4:45 PM

For the sake of love, people stretch far beyond their usual boundaries—and sometimes snap. In Geir Gulliksen’s “A Story of a Marriage,” a man exerts extreme empathy to understand his wife’s infidelity. In “Thomas and Beal in the Midi,” third in the acclaimed Mason saga, Christopher Tilghman depicts an interracial marriage in the mid-1850s where each partner gives up nearly everything (one, an estate; the other, family) to be together.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Boiler Room

With the support of the Norway House Foundation and NORLA - Norwegian Literature Abroad

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

Literary Bravery: Sleepwalkers, Ghosts, and Radical Storytelling from Three International Luminaries

Dorothee Elmiger, Laura Lindstedt, Mike McCormack, moderated by Anita Felicelli

Sunday, May 5

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Seven women meet in a white void immediately after death…. A man, not realizing he’s dead, narrates his entire life in a single, riveting sentence…. Voices mingle in a shadowy forest, talking of borders, illegal crossings, and the market value of human beings. Take a liminal literary journey with three writers, who will describe how they created such brave, rule-breaking works of the imagination. Winners of the Finlandia Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize, and the Swiss Literature Award respectively, these international voices are taking the literary world by storm.

With the support of FILI – Finnish Literature Exchange; the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation; Culture Ireland; the initiative “Wunderbar Together,“ initiated by the German Federal Foreign Office, the Goethe Institut, and supported by the Federation of German Industries (BDI); Goethe-Institut’s translation support program “Books First”; the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco; and Pro Helvetia


Watch the full episode


Brower Center - Goldman Theater

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • ASL Interpreted programming
  • Literary
  • Writing & Publishing

San Francisco State University MFA Program Presents: Who’s Got The Power?

Nona Caspers, May-lee Chai, Michael David Lukas, moderated by Carolina De Robertis

Sunday, May 5

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Let’s talk about power: who has it, how it flows, and how it shapes the stories we write in overt and hidden ways. What kind of universes do we build for our characters to live in? What decides the agency, authority, and control they claim or lack? Novelists Nona Caspers, May-Lee Chai, and Michael David Lukas of the San Francisco State University MFA program investigate how power shows up in their work and in their own writing practices.

This program will have ASL interpreters.

Brower Center - Tamalpais Room

Sponsored by the San Francisco State University MFA Program

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Outdoor (Free)
  • Women/Gender

On 21st Century Mothering

Vanessa Hua, Lydia Kiesling, Dani McClain, moderated by Devi Laskar

Sunday, May 5

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

How far will a mother go for her child? In Vanessa Hua’s “River of Stars,” a mother’s love carries her across the ocean and then some, all in the name of protecting her baby. In Lydia Kiesling’s “The Golden State,” a mother takes her young child on a road trip that defies the conventions of the genre. In “We Live for the We,” Dani McClain explores the power and responsibility of her own love as a new mother to a Black child in America. These three authors explore the voracious worry, stubborn hope, and deep love of 21st century motherhood.

San Francisco Chronicle Stage in the Park

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Literary

A Conversation with Literary Legend Ann Beattie

Ann Beattie interviewed by Carol Edgarian

Sunday, May 5

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Known for casting a gimlet eye on her generation’s ambivalence and ambition, celebrated American novelist and short story writer Ann Beattie returns with her twenty-first book. “A Wonderful Stroke of Luck” explores the complicated relationship between a charismatic teacher and his students, and the secrets people keep from those they love. Join Beattie in conversation with her friend Carol Edgarian, author, publisher, and co-founder of Narrative, which publishes more than three hundred writers and artists annually and advances literature in the digital age.

Freight & Salvage

With the support of Women Lit members

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

Writer to Writer: Lacy Johnson and Carmen Maria Machado

Lacy Johnson and Carmen Maria Machado, moderated by Lise Quintana

Sunday, May 5

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

In our Writer to Writer series, two writers who are fans of each other’s work come together for a conversation. Carmen Maria Machado, National Book Award finalist and author of “Her Body and Other Parties” and the forthcoming memoir “In the Dream House,” sits down with Lacy Johnson, author of “The Other Side” and “The Reckonings,” which was hailed by The Millions as “a collection that converses with itself and the reader, asking us to question our beliefs and our roles in a system that perpetuates violence.” The two discuss how they navigate their way through the thorny narrative terrain of abuse, discovering agency and power in the process.

Magnes Museum

Sponsored by Zoetic Press; also with the support of Women Lit members

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

Not So Polite After All: Canadian Writers Challenge the Status Quo

André Alexis, Esi Edugyan, Sheila Heti, moderated by Omar El Akkad

Sunday, May 5

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Three award-winning Canadian writers converge on one stage to recount their adventures in literary risk-taking and rule-breaking. Esi Edugyan’s richly spun historical epic “Washington Black” celebrates the genius of an escaped slave (not the white man who freed him). Sheila Heti’s “Motherhood” is a searingly honest rumination on whether or not to have children. André Alexis’s surreal and hallucinatory “Days By Moonlight” defies all conventions. Join these authors for a look at the leaps they took and the rewards they reaped.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

With the support of the Consulate General of Canada, San Francisco/Silicon Valley

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Comics & Graphics
  • Current Affairs
  • Literary

Ricanstruction: Popular Fiction and Power in Post-Maria Puerto Rico

Aya de Leon, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, moderated by Tianna Paschel

Sunday, May 5

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Hurricane Maria has permanently altered the Caribbean. While journalists did initial reporting on the disaster, the first books to be published about the hurricane are popular fiction. NYC’s Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, the creator of the superhero La Borinqueña, assembled “Ricanstruction: Reminiscing and Rebuilding Puerto Rico,” a comic anthology fundraiser to benefit survivors on the island. Berkeley author Aya de Leon’s next feminist heist book “Side Chick Nation” will be the first print novel about the hurricane. Join these two Puerto Rican writers to discuss the challenges of writing about disaster and why popular fiction has the power to bring the pueblo together around urgent issues.

The Marsh - Cabaret

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Race/Identity
  • Women/Gender

Ache, Rage, Rise: Portraits of Race and Gender in Short Fiction

Camille Acker, Jamel Brinkley, Kali Fajardo-Anstine, moderated by Farida Jhabvala Romero

Sunday, May 5

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM

Come hear three rising literary stars! From a house party in Brooklyn, to the mountains of southern Colorado, to the rapidly changing streets of the nation’s capital, these story collections travel the full trajectory and vibrate with vivid prose. Jamel Brinkley (“A Lucky Man,” finalist for the National Book Award), Camille Acker (“Training School for Negro Girls”), and Kali Fajardo-Anstine (“Sabrina and Corina”) have written coming-of-age stories anchored by young characters who are discovering power and loss, learning the rules and how to break them.

The Marsh - Theater

Sponsored partly by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria

3:15 PM
  • 2019
  • International
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers
  • Women/Gender

A Unique Feminine Mystique: The Female Detective

Cara Black, Kjell Ola Dahl, S.A. Lelchuk, Jenny Rogneby, moderated by Eileen Rendahl

Sunday, May 5

3:15 PM - 4:45 PM

Come meet four writers who’ve placed dynamic women crime solvers at the center of their stories. Everyone’s favorite Paris détective très chic, Aimée Leduc from Cara Black’s “Murder on the Left Bank” confronts a cabal of corrupt Parisian cops, including one who masterminded her father’s murder. Detective Lena Stigersand from Kjell Ola Dahl’s “The Ice Swimmer” must solve the case of a dead man lifted from the Oslo Harbour while juggling a cancer scare, stalker, and untrustworthy boyfriend. With one foot on each side of the law, Detective Leona Lindberg in Jenny Rogneby’s “Any Means Necessary” investigates a terrorist attack in the heart of Stockholm. Bookstore owner and PI Nikki Griffin from S. A. Lelchuk’s “Save Me From Dangerous Men” tracks down men who hurt women to teach them a lesson, but when something goes wrong, she is no longer just solving a case—she’s trying to stay alive.

Veterans Memorial Building - Auditorium

With the support of the Norway House Foundation and NORLA - Norwegian Literature Abroad, the Consulate General of Sweden in San Francisco, and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation

4:00 PM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Free

Youth Power! with the International Congress of Youth Voices

Jose Antonio Vargas, moderated by Sandra Bass

Sunday, May 5

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Global politics affect young people as much as anyone else, but they have little to no voice as major decisions are made. Join us for a discussion featuring noted journalist, filmmaker, author, and immigration rights activist Jose Antonio Vargas with youth delegates from the International Congress of Youth Voices. They’ll discuss mass incarceration, immigration, and the importance of youth voices in activism. Youth in the audience are encouraged to jump in!

Florence Schwimley Little Theater

5:00 PM
  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Race/Identity

The Unbreakable Human Spirit: Albert Woodfox on Survival in Solitary

Albert Woodfox interviewed by Shane Bauer

Sunday, May 5

5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

One of the “Angola 3,” Albert Woodfox endured four decades of solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit. While his story has been profiled by many publications, today we have an opportunity to hear from him directly. From the epilogue of his just-published memoir, “Solitary,” come these powerful words: “To those of you who are just entering the world of social struggle, welcome. To those of you who have spent years struggling for human rights and social justice, don’t give up. Look at me and see how the strength and determination of the human spirit defies all evil.” In our closing keynote session, Woodfox will be interviewed by Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer, author of “American Prison” and himself a survivor of solitary confinement when he was arrested in Iran and held for two years in the notorious Evin Prison.

Introduced by Kate Harrison, Berkeley City Council Member (Downtown).


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Freight & Salvage

7:00 PM
  • 2019

Special Event! Robert Scheer Documentary: “Above the Fold”

Robert Scheer, Susan Griffin, and Steve Wasserman, moderated by Peter Richardson; introduced by Festival Director Cherilyn Parsons and filmmakers Julie Thompson and Brogan de Paor

Sunday, May 5

7:00 PM - 9:15 PM

“Robert Scheer: Above the Fold” profiles the renowned journalist whose six-decade career spans Ramparts magazine, the legendary San Francisco muckraker; the Los Angeles Times, where he wrote a nationally syndicated column; and Truthdig, the award-winning news site. The film also recounts Scheer’s involvement in Berkeley politics, including a campaign for Congress in the 1960s. His extraordinary body of work reminds us that journalism, at its best, is about pursuing the truth at all costs. Filmmakers Brogan de Paor and Julie Thompson will introduce the film. A conversation after the screening will feature Robert Scheer; Susan Griffin, author; Steve Wasserman, publisher of Heyday Books; and Peter Richardson (“A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America”).

Freight & Salvage

7:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Women/Gender

A Conversation with Eve Ensler Discussing The Apology

June 13, 2019

7:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Like millions of women, Eve Ensler—author of The Vagina Monologues, one of the most influential works of the twentieth century—has been waiting much of her life for an apology. Sexually and physically abused by her father as a girl, Eve has grappled with her father’s betrayal and its effects for her whole life, longing for an honest reckoning from a man who is long dead. After years of work as an artist and an activist in the movement to end violence against women, Eve decided she would not wait any longer; she could imagine an apology for herself. The Apology is written by Eve from her father’s point of view in the words she has always needed to hear to be freed from the trauma. At this cultural moment of public reckoning with violence against women, Eve’s message has the power to prompt real transformation and healing, not only in those who have been abused but also in the ones who have hurt them—a step toward change that is necessary and long overdue.
For this event, Women Lit has chosen a safe, nurturing environment, literally a sanctuary (of an ecumenical community church). Our speaker may discuss emotionally traumatic experiences. All attendees and their experiences will be held with care within our supportive Women Lit community.


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7:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Women/Gender

Girls’ Saturday Night Out: An Evening with Jennifer Weiner

June 22, 2019

7:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Women Lit has a fun treat in store for you at the high point of summer! On Saturday night, June 22 in Berkeley, we’re bringing you Girls’ Saturday Night Out: An Evening with Jennifer Weiner, who will discuss her new novel, Mrs. Everything. We read an early copy of Mrs. Everything and didn’t want to put it down. No surprise: Jen is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen other books too, including In Her Shoes. As for seeing Jen in person, get ready for both insights and laughs. She’s renowned for her whip-smart, feminist, fearless, generous style (and fabulous Twitter account) that embraces all women and their stories. She’s a bit infamous for altercations with self-important males. She’s very, very funny.

More about the event:

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise. Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. But the world ends up being quite different from what the girls imagined. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after? In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?


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5:30 PM
  • 2019
  • Women/Gender

Candace Bushnell Discussing Is There Still Sex in the City?

October 1, 2019

5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Remember Sex and the City? The author of that seminal work, Candace Bushnell, is back two decades later with a new book, Is There Still Sex in the City? — for women 50+. Put on a great pair of shoes and come on out. Join Women Lit at The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 1, to hear the trailblazing creator of Sex and the City discuss the new book with Lauren Schiller of Inflection Point. The iconic Sex and the City broke down major barriers in cultural representations of single women and reshaped the landscape of pop culture. Bushnell now guides us through a new and entangled dating scene. Is There Still Sex in the City? follows a whole new cohort of female friends, Sassy, Kitty, Queenie, Tilda Tia, Marilyn and Candace, as they face the modern-day sex arena as middle aged women, including younger partners, dating apps, divorce, children, and the pressure to maintain a youthful appearance. Equal parts hilarious and heart-wrenching, and filled with Bushnell’s signature short, sharp social commentary, Is There Still Sex in the City? not only provides a colorful look into love after 50, but also asks audiences to take a more nuanced look into the lives of women.


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7:00 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Voting Rights

Vote At Home with Amber McReynolds and Jesse Wegman

Friday May 1st

7:00 PM - 8:15 PM


As highlighted by urgent op-eds and leading journalists, the November 2020 election will be disrupted, perhaps severely, by the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s a secure and well-studied solution available: voting by mail, which promises to protect public health and the integrity of our democracy. What are the pathways to making vote-by-mail widely available? What are the challenges? Who implements this kind of policy change, and where? And, with the most consequential election of our lifetimes less than six months away, how can citizens organize to push for this bipartisan mandate and actually get results within an urgent timeframe?

Jesse Wegman has written about the Supreme Court and legal affairs for the New York Times editorial board since 2013, and his book Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College was praised by National Book Award winner and MacArthur fellow Annette Gordon-Reed as a “timely and erudite work that should interest all who are interested in the future of the United States.” He’s joined by Amber McReynolds, CEO for the National Vote At Home Institute and Coalition and co-author of When Women Vote. These nationally recognized experts on voting rights, the Constitution, and electoral law engage in a spirited and forward-looking conversation moderated by Ian Haney Lopez, author of Merge Left, which astutely examines the role of coded racism in contemporary political campaigns.

Want to take action in response to what you hear? Check out our Resources page!

Our series on Voting Rights has been generously supported by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation, Guy and Jeanine Saperstein, and Mal Warwick Donordigital.

And a special thank you to our distribution partners, including AJC Decatur Book Festival (Decatur, GA), JLF Colorado (Boulder, CO), Literary Arts (Portland, OR), and the Wisconsin Book Festival (Madison, WI).

Amber McReynolds, When Women Vote
Jesse Wegman, et the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College.
Ian Haney Lopez, Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners


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11:00 AM
  • Middle Grade
  • Teen
  • YA (Young Adult)

Courage and Heart in Adversity

Sunday May 3

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Renee Diop of Cinnamongirl, Inc, an Oakland-based nonprofit that empowers girls of color with mentorship and educational opportunities, will moderate a discussion between two top middle grade authors whose work explores young people’s inner and outer courage. Kate O’Shaughnessy’s The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane, praised by Publishers Weekly as “a lyrical and full of heart road trip story” that “gets to the core of what it means to create family, to be brave, and to accept the flaws of being human,” chronicles the journey of a teen girl, passionate about sounds and music, who takes a huge risk to search for her father, but ends up finding herself. And Ernesto Cisneros’ Efren Divided, which Sandra Cisneros praised as “a book doing work of the spirit in a time of darkness,” tells the story of a teen boy, the son of undocumented parents, who must channel his own strength and bravery when his mother is deported.

Ernesto Cisneros – Efrén Divided
Kate O’Shaughnessy – The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners


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7:00 PM
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality

Shedding Light, Vanquishing Fear: End-of-Life Planning with the Experts

Sunday May 3

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

In a time where COVID-19 looms over us all, difficult conversations about death have become a very real part of life. But from living rooms to hospital rooms, there’s widespread resistance to delving into this important topic that touches us all. We tend to perceive death as too scary, too ugly, too overwhelming to acknowledge—let alone something to approach in a peaceful, prepared way. In this informative, enlightening, and truly comforting discussion, four remarkable experts show families and individuals how to take a clear-eyed, compassionate approach to mortality, one’s own and that of loved ones. These authors shed light on how medical providers and patients alike can reshape the mentality of fear around the process of dying and create a much better experience for all, one that can be transformative and extremely meaningful. By exercising agency in planning for the “best possible death,” we can create our best possible life.

This revelatory conversation features journalist Shoshana Berger and palliative care physician BJ Miller, co-authors of A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death, praised by The Washington Post as “a gentle, knowledgeable guide to a fate we all share.” They are joined by award-winning journalist and bestselling writer Katy Butler, author of two groundbreaking books about the end of life: Knocking on Heaven’s Door, the Path to a Better Way of Death, and her latest, The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life, hailed as “a roadmap to the end” that “combines medical, practical, and spiritual guidance” (The Boston Globe). Moderated by Dr. Sunita Puri, whose memoir That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour is a “profound exploration for what it means for all of us to live—and to die—with dignity and purpose” (People Magazine). Dr. Puri is currently on the frontlines working with COVID-19 patients as the Medical Director of the Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care Service at the Keck Hospital and Norris Cancer Center of the University of Southern California.

Shoshana Berger and BJ Miller, A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death
Katy Butler, The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life
Sunita Puri, MD, That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners


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7:00 PM
  • Literary
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers

Queens of Mystery: Writer to Writer with Meg Gardiner and Rachel Howzell Hall

Tuesday May 5

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

“Suspense is like a woman,” said Hitchcock. “The more left to the imagination, the more the excitement.” Well, these two women are coming for Hitchcock’s crown with some of the most spine-tingling, sophisticated thrillers being written today. Meg Gardiner, bestselling novelist and president of Mystery Writers of America, was fittingly called “Hitchcockian” by USA Today. She specializes in heroines with big brains, from FBI agents to forensic psychiatrists to firecracker journalists (Stephen King called her Evan Delaney novels “the finest crime-suspense series I’ve come across in the last twenty years”). And Rachel Howzell Hall, author of the Detective Elouise Norton series, has created an unforgettable protagonist described by The New York Times as “someone you want on your side.” Hall’s newest, which ABC News calls her “breakout novel,” is They all Fall Down, a wickedly clever mystery set on a pristine—and deadly—island paradise in Mexico.

Listen to these two leading ladies of suspense as they crack the case of how to make readers stay up all night. Moderated by Laurie King, an Edgar Award-winning author of detective fiction and President of the Northern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Meg Gardiner, The Dark Corners of the Night
Rachel Howzell Hall, They All Fall Down
Laurie King, Beginnings

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7:00 PM
  • Teen
  • YA (Young Adult)

Of Violence and Hope

Wednesday May 6

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Murder, werewolves and guns: oh my! The teen protagonists in these riveting novels by Randy Ribay and Romina Garber are driven to reconcile dangerous mysteries at home and abroad. When Jay, the American teenage protagonist of Patron Saints of Nothing, discovers that his Filiopino cousin has been murdered in the midst of President Duerte’s war on drugs, he travels to the Philippines to investigate, and uncovers dark secrets that he never bargained for. Manuela, the undocumented Argentine teen at the center of Garber’s Lobizona: A Novel (Wolves of No World Book 1), is thrown into chaos when her mother is arrested by ICE, and follows a trail of clues that lead her to a secret and mystical world straight out of Argentine folklore. In a conversation moderated by Madison Harvey, sophomore at Oakland’s Head Royce School and member of Cinnamongirl, Inc, these authors delve into immigration, belonging, and how, in order to emerge into the light, we sometimes have to take a deep dive into the dark.

Romina Garber – Lobizona: A Novel – Wolves of No World Book 1
Randy Ribay – Patron Saints of Nothing

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners


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7:00 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Voting Rights

Unrigging the Rules for the Rising American Electorate: David Daley and Steve Phillips

Thursday May 7

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Who holds America’s future in their hands? Who has the potential to dramatically reshape our political landscape, just by exercising the right to vote? The past few years have seen an exciting infusion of political engagement from a diverse electorate as young people, people of color, and single women are mobilizing and making their voices heard. For every victory and milestone, however, there is an equally coordinated—if insidious—attempt to disenfranchise these citizens from turning out to vote. From polling station closures to gerrymandering, from voter ID laws to the purging of voter rolls, suppressive tactics are deliberate, methodical, and ubiquitous.

We’ll learn how to unrig the rules to ensure these rising new voices—and their votes—are counted, with insights from bestselling authorities on voting rights: Steve Phillips, founder of Democracy in Color and author of Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority, and David Daley, author of Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy and the 2016 bestseller Ratf***ed: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count, which has become an urgent reference point for the upcoming post-census round of redistricting. Moderated by indigenous activist and journalist Rebecca Nagle, whose groundbreaking podcast, This Land, won the prestigious American Mosaic Journalism Prize.

Want to take action in response to what you hear? Check out our Resources page!

Our series on Voting Rights has been generously supported by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation, Guy and Jeanine Saperstein, and Mal Warwick Donordigital.
And a special thank you to our distribution partners, including AJC Decatur Book Festival (Decatur, GA), JLF Colorado (Boulder, CO), Literary Arts (Portland, OR), and the Wisconsin Book Festival (Madison, WI).


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7:00 PM
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

Sacred and Profane: Debut Novelist Chelsea Bieker on “Godshot”

Sunday May 10

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

We’re thrilled to welcome debut novelist Chelsea Bieker in conversation with Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press and SparkPress. Bieker’s explosive literary debut Godshot (Catapult/March 2020), praised by bestseller Kristen Arnett as “a beautiful blow to the heart,” is a hymn to the salvation found in hard-won personal rebirth. Stricken with drought, the once-verdant community of Peaches, California clings to a cult leader for salvation, and 14-year-old Lacey, abandoned by her mother, is left to reap a revelatory, fraught harvest of her own. Godshot has won Bieker rapturous comparisons to Margaret Atwood, Emma Cline, and Janet Fitch; but the beauty of her “absolute masterpiece” (T. Kira Madden) lies in Lacey’s incomparable voice: the voice of a brokenhearted believer, by turns darkly funny and achingly tender, who you’ll miss after turning the last page. Go deep with Bieker and Brooke Warner, as they plumb the depths of one unforgettable girl’s miraculous journey to fertile ground.

Chelsea Bieker, Godshot
Brooke Warner, Write on Sisters!

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7:00 PM
  • Teen
  • Women/Gender
  • YA (Young Adult)

Our Stories, Our Voices

Wednesday May 13

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.” In 1929 England, Virginia Woolf, in “A Room of One’s Own,” expressed a sentiment of subversion, independence, and integrity that is all too pertinent for female writers in contemporary America. Our Stories, Our Voices, a “truthful and empowering” (Booklist) anthology of exciting YA voices, carries Woolf’s torch for a new and diverse generation across the pond, showcasing essays on experiences of injustice, empowerment, and growing up female in America. In this bracing and necessary conversation, Renee Diop, a budding young novelist from Cinnamongirl, Inc, will discuss coming-of-age, rising above bias and obstacles, and fearless creativity with anthology contributors Anna-Marie McLemore, a Latinx virtuoso of magical realism whose books have been lauded in “best of” lists from Kirkus and Booklist and chosen as New York Times Editors’ Choice selections; and #1 New York Times bestselling YA author Ellen Hopkins. Come for a cross-generational conversation filled with solidarity, hope, and inspiration for all young women called to express their best, brightest, and boldest selves.

Ellen Hopkins, Anna-Marie McLemore e.o. – Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America

Ellen Hopkins – People Kill People
Anna-Marie McLemore – Dark and Deepest Red

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners


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7:00 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Voting Rights

Courts, COVID-19 & Voter Suppression

Thursday May 14

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

We’ve all seen the images from the recent in-person election in Wisconsin: people lined up wearing masks, some holding signs saying “THIS IS RIDICULOUS,” as they risked deadly COVID-19 illness and violated a shelter-in-place order simply to exercise the right to vote. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this scenario was the fact that it wouldn’t have happened without a last-minute ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that rolled back an absentee ballot extension period that had been put in place expressly to mitigate contagion potential from in-person voting. With less than six months to go until the 2020 Presidential election, and with the COVID-19 pandemic expected to remain in full force, can we expect a repeat of the debacle in Wisconsin—this time, on a national scale? In the aftermath of 2013’s Shelby County v. Holder verdict that shattered the Voting Rights Act, how much can we rely on our courts as the last line of defense in our right to vote?

Three nationally recognized experts will lead us through the role of the courts in ensuring voters’ access to vital options like absentee ballots and early voting, and show us how everyday citizens can act now to shape the judiciary in the short and long term. Featuring legal scholar Richard Hasen, whose Election Meltdown was deemed “required reading for legislators and voters” by Kirkus in a starred review; Constitutional scholar Alan Hirsch, whose A Short History of Presidential Election Crises was praised as “lucid, balanced, and deeply informed” by Elizabeth Kolbert; and renowned civil rights leader Abdi Soltani, executive director of the ACLU of Northern California. Moderated by Lala Wu, whose Sister District Project enlists 40,000 women nationwide in the fight to win crucial state legislative elections.

Want to take action in response to what you hear? Check out our Resources page!

Our series on Voting Rights has been generously supported by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation, Guy and Jeanine Saperstein, and Mal Warwick Donordigital.
And a special thank you to our distribution partners, including AJC Decatur Book Festival (Decatur, GA), JLF Colorado (Boulder, CO), Literary Arts (Portland, OR), and the Wisconsin Book Festival (Madison, WI).

Richard Hasen, Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy
Alan Hirsch, A Short History of Presidential Election Crises: (And How to Prevent the Next One)

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners


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7:00 PM
  • Literary

Sex, Art and Power: Writer to Writer with Garth Greenwell and Lidia Yuknavitch

Tuesday May 19

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

In our Writer to Writer series, two writers who are fans of each other’s work come together for a conversation. Garth Greenwell’s most recent book, Cleanness, was described in Harpers as “an electrifying portrait of sex’s power to lacerate and liberate, to make and unmake our deepest selves…The book’s sex scenes unfold like revelations, effortlessly braiding inner drama with precisely choreographed intimacy.” And Greenwell, writing in The New Yorker, has called Lidia Yuknavitch’s sex scenes “remarkable among current American novelists, not just for their explicitness but for the way she uses them to pursue questions of agency, selfhood, and the ethical implications of making art.” Come listen in as two of contemporary literature’s most incendiary writers talk about the relationships between queer bodies and sex, language and literary citizenship, and the moral and artistic complexities of desire and power. Moderated by Keiko Lane, writer, poet, and former faculty member at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Sponsored By

Garth Greenwell, Cleanness
Lidia Yuknavitch, Verge

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7:00 PM
  • Voting Rights

SUPPRESSED: THE FIGHT TO VOTE Screening and Talkback

Tuesday May 19

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

The fundamental right to vote is under attack in America: a truth that became glaringly obvious during the fraught midterm elections of 2018. Brave New Films’ “scary and galvanizing” (Variety) documentary Suppressed: The Fight to Vote shines a light on the hotly contested Georgia governor’s race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp: a race that came to stand for the corrupt and systematic oppression of voters’ rights taking place across the nation. Get informed, fired up, and empowered by this searing and necessary short film, and stay for a rousing post-screening conversation between director Robert Greenwald,  Atlanta college student Phoebe Einzig-Roth—whose infuriating struggle to vote for the first time was documented in the film—and moderator John Diaz of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Want to take action in response to what you hear? Check out our Resources page!

Our series on Voting Rights has been generously supported by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation, Guy and Jeanine Saperstein, and Mal Warwick Donordigital.
And a special thank you to our distribution partners, including AJC Decatur Book Festival (Decatur, GA), JLF Colorado (Boulder, CO), Literary Arts (Portland, OR), and the Wisconsin Book Festival (Madison, WI).


Watch the full episode


7:00 PM
  • Race/Identity
  • Teen
  • YA (Young Adult)

Beyond Our World: Shifting Identities and Steady Hearts

Wednesday May 20

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Bridging divides and unveiling secrets are the name of the game in two fascinating fantasy novels by YA virtuosos. In Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s fantasy debut, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, Florian and Evelyn cross lines of class and identity to fall in love, crossing paths with haunting mythical creatures and double agents along the way to their shared fate. And Rebecca Hanover’s The Pretenders, her thrilling conclusion to The Similars duology, follows troubled, secret-ravaged Emma in her struggle to stop a dangerous vengeful plan, figure out her true identity, and decide between two boys with eerily identical faces. A bracing and magical discussion moderated by brilliant young bookworm Jennifer Leon, junior at Berkeley Highschool and a member of Cinnamongirl, Inc.

Rebecca Hanover – The Pretenders
Maggie Tokuda-Hall – The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

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7:00 PM
  • Race/Identity
  • Teen
  • Women/Gender
  • YA (Young Adult)

This Thing Called Love, Part 1

Wednesday May 27

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Laila Butcher, junior at San Leandro High School and member of Cinnamongirl Inc., will have an electrifying conversation with author Rahul Kanakia about self-acceptance, finding love in unconventional places, and deriving confidence from the traits that make you stand out from the crowd. In Rahul Kanakia’s We Are Totally Normal, Nandan, a junior in high school, becomes more than just friends with his longtime bestie, Dave: a journey that leads him to come to terms with his own sexuality and desires. A big-hearted, warmly inclusive session about love, honesty, and courage.

Rahul Kanakia – We Are Totally Normal

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7:00 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Race/Identity
  • Voting Rights

One Person, No Vote: Carol Anderson in Conversation with Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Thursday May 28

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Carol Anderson is one of our nation’s leading voices on racial justice. In her National Book Critics Circle Award-winning bestseller White Rage, she chronicled the history of systemic injustices that have impeded black progress in America, from Reconstruction to the present day. In One Person, No Vote, longlisted for the National Book Award, she zeros in on the fallout from the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This “impeccably researched, deftly written” (Minneapolis Star Tribune) book offers a whip-smart, riveting analysis of the disenfranchisement of voters of color, with insights that have proven, in the aftermath of the 2018 midterm elections, to be resoundingly prescient — and, for the 2020 elections, more urgent than ever.

Anderson will be in conversation with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, one of the most well-regarded, outspoken, and trailblazing members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and currently the only African American woman in House Democratic leadership. This empowering and galvanizing conversation will enlighten us about how voter suppression has worked in the past and, most importantly, what we can do now to deny it a future.

Want to take action in response to what you hear? Check out our Resources page!

Our series on Voting Rights has been generously supported by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation, Guy and Jeanine Saperstein, and Mal Warwick Donordigital.
And a special thank you to our distribution partners, including AJC Decatur Book Festival (Decatur, GA), JLF Colorado (Boulder, CO), Literary Arts (Portland, OR), and the Wisconsin Book Festival (Madison, WI).

Carol Anderson, One Person, No Vote

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners


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7:00 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality

Coming Together When Things Fall Apart: Giving Voice to Emotional Truth in our Times

Saturday, May 2

7:00 PM - 8:15 PM

This event is for everyone who’s ever been moved by a writer’s uncanny gift for describing the indescribable: a gift that makes us feel seen and understood in all our complexity. It’s a gift we need now, more than ever. A novelist’s stock in trade is plumbing the emotional landscape of characters experiencing freefall, upheaval, uncertainty—just as all of us are experiencing, in some measure, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the overwhelming emotions of this current moment render us speechless, who better to break the silence and put words to complicated feelings than some of contemporary literature’s most groundbreaking, humane, and breathtaking voices?

Acclaimed novelist R.O. Kwon’s transcendent New York Times essay about grief in lockdown was the inspiration for this conversation. Joining her are Anthony Doerr, whose blockbuster World War II novel All the Light We Cannot See illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another; and Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose witty, exquisite The Sympathizer captures the ambivalence and humanity of “a man of two minds” in the midst of a traumatic war. Moderated by award-winning author Danielle Evans, who recently penned a beautiful essay about sheltering-in-place for The Sewanee Review’s “Corona Correspondences” series.

This ticketed live event, a fundraiser for the Bay Area Book Festival, will take us beyond the headlines and tweets into a raw, cathartic conversation about navigating lockdown, loss, and massive change. In the midst of this strange time, an hour of deep connection can bring hope and courage to us all.

Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
R.O. Kwon, The Incendiaries
Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer
Danielle Evans, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners

Watch the full episode

This event was recorded live on May 2 as a ticketed fundraiser, starting at $40. We greatly appreciate the generosity of these authors in lending their time and brilliance to help the festival! While eventually we’ll release this program for free, for just a little longer we’re asking for a donation of $20 to watch it. Not only is this program totally worth it, but you’ll be helping the festival endure to continue to bring you programs like this one.

After you make your donation here, we’ll send you a special viewing link, along with a “literary companion” list of books and articles cited by the authors, their own recent writings on COVID-19, and so on.

7:00 PM
  • Literary

America’s Most Unusual Marriage: Adam Hochschild on Rebel Cinderella

Tuesday, June 2

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Trust bestselling author and historian Adam Hochschild to unearth one of history’s forgotten heroines and give her story the page-turning treatment it deserves. Russian immigrant Rose Pastor Stokes spent her first twelve years in America in a sweatshop, only to skyrocket to the upper class when she married an heir to a massive mining and real estate fortune. It’s a classic Cinderella story: that is, if Cinderella converted her prince to socialism, became an antiwar and labor activist, caused a scandal by promoting birth control access, and was dubbed “one of the most dangerous influences of the country” by a sitting President.

This tale of a volatile, bright-burning Gilded Age marriage could only exist in the America of Jay Gatsby, bootleggers, and the Lost Generation: an era of glamour and privation, of big dreams and bigger inequities. An era, as Hochschild reveals, with far more parallels to our own than anything in the Brothers Grimm. Only Hochshild could do justice, in words and images, to a crusader who was far ahead of her own time, but strikingly relevant to ours. Hochschild will be joined by Monika Bauerlein, CEO and award-winning editor of Mother Jones.

Adam Hochschild, Rebel Cinderella

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7:00 PM
  • Middle Grade
  • Teen
  • Women/Gender
  • YA (Young Adult)

Girls, Guts and Gadgets

Wednesday June 3

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

This empowering, exhilarating session is for every young woman who wants to live a life of epic adventure and build the world she wants to see. With Girls Garage, Emily Pilloton, founder and director of the groundbreaking and beloved Berkeley organization of the same name, makes everything from carpentry and welding to fixing things around your house accessible, exciting, and fun for girls 14 and up who want to take power—and power tools—into their own hands. The Girls Garage book invites all girls to speak up, stand out, and join a movement of fearless builder girls everywhere. She’s joined by Caroline Paul, one of the first female firefighters in San Francisco, whose ode to fearless adventure and bravery, The Gutsy Girl, was praised by bestselling memoirist Cheryl Strayed (Wild) as “the book of the year for daredevils, doers, and dreamers of all ages.” Once a young scaredy-cat, Caroline overcame her fears and embraced her passions, and The Gutsy Girl shows a new generation how they can do the same. At a time when feelings of fear and powerlessness may be creeping in, every young woman will be inspired by this conversation celebrating confidence, self-reliance, hope, and audacity.

Sponsored By

Caroline Paul – The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure
Emily Pilloton – Girls Garage: How to Use Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build the World You Want to See

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7:00 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality
  • Literary
  • Race/Identity

The Witness We Bear: Writer to Writer with Jericho Brown and Nikky Finney

Friday, June 5

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

In our Writer to Writer series, two writers who are fans of each other’s work come together for a conversation. This one couldn’t be more urgent. In “The Witness We Bear,” two extraordinary poets, Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown (The Tradition) and National Book Award winner Nikky Finney (Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry), continue a dialogue that began 20 years ago, when Jericho was Nikky’s student. Much has changed since those days, but what hasn’t is their mutual dedication to bearing witness to hard truths through art.

In this transcendent, thought-provoking, and deeply personal conversation, two of the most prominent poets in America today share their own responses to the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, address the protests against police brutality and white supremacy, and describe the revolutionary power of poetry to capture human experience. They discuss what it means to be a teacher and learner, and how “place” and history shape us as people and artists. They offer us their own experiences of finding power and hope, even in the midst of heartbreak. As Jericho says, “One of the ways we know we’re magical people is by how much we manage to do with broken hearts.” Join this magical conversation, moderated by Ismail Muhammad, reviews editor for The Believer, board member at the National Book Critics Circle, and Program Committee member at the Bay Area Book Festival.

Jericho Brown, The Tradition
Nikky Finney, Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry

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7:00 PM
  • International
  • Literary
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers

International Thrills: #1 Scandinavian Bestseller Lars Kepler

Tuesday, June 9

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

The blockbuster Swedish suspense phenomenon Lars Kepler, famed for the #1 internationally bestselling Joona Linna series, is actually two people: husband-and-wife duo Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril. Their first book, 2009’s mega-bestselling The Hypnotist, stirred up intrigue beyond its own riveting pages, as the media frantically sleuthed to uncover Lars Kepler’s real identity: a secret finally revealed at a press conference that became Sweden’s biggest story of that summer. Both halves of this dynamic duo were already acclaimed authors before they joined forces, but as a crime-fiction team, they’ve sold millions of copies in 40 languages. Come for a rare, fascinating look behind the curtain of this powerhouse literary couple’s creative process, as they share the ins and outs of creating ghoulishly razor-sharp fiction as a team, the origins of their most iconic characters and storylines, and the artistic freedom that comes from collaboration. Moderated by Jesse Kellerman, no stranger to collaboration himself, having co-written New York Times bestselling crime novels—praised as “brilliant, page-turning fiction” by Stephen King—with his father, Jonathan Kellerman.

Sponsored By

Lars Kepler, The Rabbit Hunter
Jesse Kellerman, Half Moon Bay – forthcoming in July 2020, available now for pre-order

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7:00 PM
  • Teen
  • YA (Young Adult)

This Thing Called Love, Part 2

Wednesday June 10

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Love of all kinds–self-love, romantic love, love of family and heritage–takes center stage in this conversation between two renowned YA authors, moderated by Jasmine Edwards, senior of Bentley School in Lafayette and a member of Cinnamongirl, Inc. Misa Sugiura’s This Time Will be Different introduces us to CJ, who discovers a hidden talent for floral arrangement in her family’s flower shop–only to make another discovery that leads her to fight, for the first time in her life, for what’s important to her. In Abigail Hing Wen’s Loveboat, Taipei, Ever Wong has a summer in Taiwan she’ll never forget, on an anything-goes Loveboat where adult supervision is nil and every student–including Ever herself–has a secret. This coming-of-age conversation grapples powerfully with the truths and milestones of growing up and growing into yourself.

Misa Sugiura – This Time Will be Different
Abigail Hing Wen – Love, Taipei

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7:00 PM
  • Literary

A Cursed Blessing: The Hidden Gifts in Times of Trial: A Conversation with David Talbot and Sir Michael Moritz

Thursday June 11

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Bestselling journalist and author David Talbot (Season of the Witch), founder and former editor-in-chief of Salon, is known for his out-of-the-box, headline-making insights on everything from current events to popular culture to hidden history, so it’s not surprising that he wrote an illness memoir with a twist. His lauded Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of My Stroke intimately chronicles the life-changing year following his massive stroke — a year he writes that “saved” him, and not just in a medical sense. In a moving account praised by Dave Eggers as “a deeply affecting examination of mortality, ambition and the priorities of a man who dodged death to live better days,” Talbot details a process of deeply personal and social transformation.

From the remarkable care he received on the stroke ward of Davies Hospital to daily life in recovery, this Type-A journalist was forced to slow down radically, depend on the kindness of others, and learn the day-to-day value of what truly matters. Toward that end, he is launching a new venture, a podcasting network powered by Bay Area talent and based on progressive “San Francisco values.” David will share his experience and new plans in conversation with Sir Michael Moritz, a journalist, author, and venture capitalist who helped launch some of the world’s most significant tech companies of the past 30 years. If you’ve ever wondered what good can come of hardship, or how resilience and humility can work together to move mountains, you won’t want to miss this fascinating, life-affirming conversation.

David Talbot, Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of My Stroke
Sir Michael Mortiz, Return to the Little Kingdom: How Apple and Steve Jobs Changed the World


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11:00 AM
  • Middle Grade
  • Teen

What Winning Really Means

Saturday June 13

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Get fired up for this inspiring and rabble-rousing conversation, perfect for kids who love rooting for the underdog and discovering the power of teamwork, inner strength, and what’s really important in life. San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Scott Ostler is the author of Bouncing Back (“a sports story that’s as heartwarming as it is action-packed” – Kirkus), which introduces us to Carlos, the star player in his old basketball league, who, after a shocking incident changes his life, discovers a new definition of “winning” as a member of a wheelchair basketball team. Author Mae Respicio‘s Any Day with You explores the real meaning of “winning” as well, taking us on aspiring California filmmaker Kaia’s quest to win a filmmaking contest as a way of convincing her great-grandfather not to move back to the Philippines. Said Booklist, “this book will leave readers with smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes.” This conversation, moderated by local book-lover and middle-grade student Quinn Boyd-Roberts, will get you inspired, moved, and ready to take on the world.

Scott Ostler – Bouncing Back
Mae Respicio – Any Day With You

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7:00 PM
  • International
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

Strange Hotel: Irish Literary Sensation Eimear McBride

Tuesday, June 16

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

The trajectory of Eimear McBride’s career is an underdog’s dream: she spent six months writing her debut novel, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, and nine years trying to sell it, only to take the literary scene by storm when it was finally published in 2013 to an avalanche of acclaim, awards (including the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction), and rapturous comparisons to James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. Now, McBride is joining Women Lit in a live virtual conversation with Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press and SparkPress, in celebration of her eagerly awaited new novel, Strange Hotel, which further cements her singular place in the contemporary canon. As unforgettable as her debut, McBride’s latest book depicts a rootless woman’s exile as she hotel-hops across the globe, seeking to quash her ghosts and escape the dangers that haunt her.

Eimear McBride, Strange Hotel
Brooke Warner, Write On, Sisters!

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7:00 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Voting Rights
  • YA (Young Adult)

The Future is Ours: Restoring Democracy with Young Adult Voting Rights

Wednesday June 17

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

This empowering, informative program, moderated by Khepera Lyons-Clark, senior of Bentley School and a member of Cinnamongirl, Inc, is the young-adult complement to BABF’s robust Voting Rights Program, a centerpiece of our 2020 virtual programming in response to this year’s hugely consequential election and the challenges posed to voting rights due to COVID-19. Aimed at teens who will be first-time voters in 2020, this panel features bestselling National Book Critics Circle Award winner Carol Anderson with the YA edition of her seminal book One Person, No Vote; award-winning author Liz Rusch with You Call This Democracy?, and author and journalist Jeff Fleischer with Votes of Confidence: A Young Person’s Guide to American Elections.

Want to take action in response to what you hear? Check out our Resources page!

Our series on Voting Rights has been generously supported by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation, Guy and Jeanine Saperstein, and Mal Warwick Donordigital.
And a special thank you to our distribution partners, including AJC Decatur Book Festival (Decatur, GA), JLF Colorado (Boulder, CO), Literary Arts (Portland, OR), and the Wisconsin Book Festival (Madison, WI).

Carol Anderson – One Person, No Vote (YA Edition): How Not All Voters Are Treated Equally
Elizabeth Rusch – You Call This Democracy?
Jeff Fleischer – Votes of Confidence: A Young Person’s Guide to American Elections

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7:00 PM
  • Free
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality
  • Women/Gender

A Time for Transformation: Redefining Aging with Louise Aronson

Thursday, June 18th

7:00 PM - 8:15 PM

 “Old age” has been defined as beginning between ages 60 and 70, meaning most people spend more of their lives in elderhood than they do in childhood. Despite the fact that we’re beginning to live longer, more fulfilling lives, many of us dread entering our golden years. But what if we had another way of approaching this richly complex phase of life? Louise Aronson, New York Times bestselling author, geriatrician, and Professor of Medicine at UCSF, recently sparked discussion with her necessary, clear-eyed Times essay on the perceived value of elders’ lives in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This piece is a fitting complement to Elderhood, a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. In this illuminating and incisive book, which has drawn comparisons to Oliver Sacks as well as Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, Aronson uses stories from her own life and experience with patients, as well as history, science, and pop culture, to illustrate a new, realistic, and groundbreaking approach to aging. This conversation between Aronson and KALW host Jeneé Darden promises to be a virtual hour of hope, connection, and frank discussion on what elderhood really is, and what it has the potential to be.

Sponsored By

bayer.us

Louise Aronson, Elderhood

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7:00 PM
  • Free
  • Teen
  • Writing & Publishing
  • YA (Young Adult)

Ready, Set, Write: NaNoWriMo Middle Grade & Young Adult Challenge with the Bay Area Book Festival

Wednesday June 24th

7:00 PM - 8:15 PM

The Bay Area Book Festival is joining up with the hugely popular, community-building writing initiative National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) for a special virtual “write-in” for middle-grade and high school writers, led by two popular YA guest authors, Mitali Perkins and Maggie Tokuda-Hall, who will provide writing tips and interactive prompts for participants. In this time of social isolation, NaNoWriMo has reported great demand for this communal, interactive “writing lab” that takes the self-consciousness and “inner editor” out of writing, sparks a spirit of playfulness and adventure, and includes options for participants to chat and build a sense of community.

Maggie Tokuda-Hall, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
Mitali Perkins, Between Us and Abuela

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7:00 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Free

No Place to Shelter: What COVID-19 Reveals About Inequality: A Conversation with Leading Journalists and Activists

Thursday, June 25th

7:00 PM - 8:15 PM

Homelessness, income inequality, mass incarceration, wage stagnation, housing shortages: COVID-19 didn’t create any of these things, but it did drag them blatantly and unmistakably into the light. With millions of Americans unemployed, uninsured, unable to pay rent, and at disproportionate risk of contracting COVID-19, it’s become impossible to avoid the fact that our social safety net has long been full of holes. Can this crisis be an opportunity to remake some of the structural inequities that have divided and stratified us for so long?

Experts on the front lines of these issues will delve deep into the context, history, and reality of some of our most entrenched ills, in “normal” times and extraordinary ones, and will discuss what we need to do to create a fairer future. Zach Norris, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, makes a strong case for the importance of collective accountability with We Keep Us Safe: Building Secure, Just, and Inclusive Communities, which Just Mercy‘s Bryan Stevenson called “an enormous contribution in the effort to advance human rights in this country.” He’s joined by New York Times reporter and housing expert Conor Doughtery, author of Golden Gates, praised by The Washington Post as “a compelling and accessible overview of California’s housing crisis.”  Because no examination of inequality is complete without addressing one of California’s most deep-rooted issues—homelessness—we also welcome Joe Wilson, Executive Director of San Francisco’s Hospitality House, whose work on the front lines to protect unhoused people from the threat of COVID-19 has been shaped indelibly by his own past experiences living on the street. Discussion moderated by journalist Heather Knight, who regularly covers these issues for The San Francisco Chronicle.

Conor Dougherty, Golden Gates
Zach Norris, We Keep Us Safe: Building Secure, Just, and Inclusive Communities

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11:00 AM
  • Current Affairs
  • History
  • Teen
  • YA (Young Adult)

The Kids Are Alright: History Lights the Way Forward

Saturday June 27

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

They say history is written by the winners. But when important stories and facts are suppressed, disguised, or forgotten, the worst patterns of history are doomed to repeat themselves–and no one wins. Kate Schatz and illustrator Miriam Stahl’s Rad American History A-Z: Movements & Moments that Demonstrate the Power of the People, uncovers the hiding-in-plain-sight histories they don’t teach you in school. In this conversation, which touches on Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March, the Stonewall riots, and Trump’s recent trouncing at the hands of teen Tiktok users, moderator Sammy Destin–member of Gender Sexuality Alliance, burgeoning activist, and eighth-grade wunderkind–steals the show, and shows us exactly how bright the future can be when we truly understand our history.

Event Aired: Saturday June 27, 11:00 AM PDT

Kate Schatz, Miriam Klein Stahl, Rad American History A-Z: Movements & Moments That Demonstrate the Power of the People


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7:00 PM
  • Free
  • Writing & Publishing

Ready, Set, Publish with Courtney Maum

Tuesday, June 30th

7:00 PM - 8:15 PM

Catch it here first! Come see hosts Brooke Warner of She Writes and Grant Faulkner of NaNoWriMo interview Courtney Maum about her indispensable new book, Before and After the Book Deal, for the popular Write-minded podcast. This conversation delves into everything aspiring authors want and need to know but might be afraid to ask, and doesn’t shy away from scary and taboo topics like rejection, money, and how much you really need to be on social media if you want to be successful. Forget the conventional wisdom you may have heard: this session is a myth-buster, setting the record straight about the world of book publishing. It’s sure to empower any writer to tackle the important journey to publication, and to sort out the expectations of what you can, should, and shouldn’t do to maximize success along the way.

Courtney Maum, Before and After the Book Deal
Brooke Warner, Write On, Sisters!

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7:00 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Food
  • Free

Food for Thought: Will Restaurants Survive?

Thursday, July 2nd

7:00 PM - 8:15 PM


Our neighborhood eateries and watering holes are more than places to gather and break bread. For patrons, they’re cornerstones of community life. And for staff, they’re a second home and a labor of love. But the public health risk from COVID-19 is radically reshaping the dining-out landscape in America, with thousands of restaurants forced to close permanently. And those that stay open face a devastating new normal in an industry that’s always been notoriously tough. In a new world of takeout-only and meal delivery, employees who were already living paycheck-to-paycheck are risking their health in order to serve customers. Immigrant and undocumented industry workers–a significant portion of the restaurant workforce–face an especially precarious reality. How do we support the people who keep us fed?

Saru Jayaraman is president of One Fair Wage, an organization fighting for higher wages for tipped workers, many of them women of color. She’s joined by Caleb Zigas of La Cocina, an organization dedicated to creating equity in business ownership for women, immigrants, and people of color in the restaurant industry, and Soleil Ho, Restaurant Critic at the San Francisco Chronicle and former co-host of the Racist Sandwich podcast. Moderated by Davia Nelson, half (with her sister Nikki Silva) of the Peabody Award-winning public radio producer duo The Kitchen Sisters, whose series include NPR’s “Hidden Kitchens.”

Saru Jayaraman, Bite Back
Caleb Zigas, We Are La Cocina: Recipes in Pursuit of the American Dream

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11:00 AM
  • History
  • International
  • Teen
  • YA (Young Adult)

Heroism in the Face of Tragedy

Saturday July 11

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

One war, three continents, and a quartet of necessary voices in conversation. Seventh-graders Quinn Boyd-Roberts and Tej Wong interview bestselling authors Lois Lowry and Jan Terlouw in a fascinating look at war, heroism, and humanity that transcends geography, nationality, and time. With On the Horizon, two-time Newbery Award medalist Lowry draws from her own childhood memories of Hawaii and Japan in an honest and empathetic account of lives lost and forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Jan Terlouw’s Winter in Wartime has been in print for almost fifty years, for good reason: this beloved novel, based on Terlouw’s own boyhood in wartime Holland, is a young-adult classic with the suspenseful pacing of a thriller. Heroism, not war, takes center stage in this conversation: the everyday heroism of young people in extraordinary times, drawn from a well of universal humanity.

On the Horizon by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Kenard Pak
Winter in Wartime by Jan Terlouw and translated by Laura Watkinson

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Event Airs: Saturday July 11, 11:00 AM PDT


Watch the full episode here


7:00 PM
  • Environment/Nature
  • Free

What Comes Naturally: The Science and Soul of Nature Writing

Tuesday, July 14th

7:00 PM - 8:15 PM

The natural world is full of mysteries, ones that writers and artists are uniquely equipped to unlock.  In this panel sponsored by Heyday Books, four authors meet at a literary crossroads between hard science, lyrical prose, and visual sumptuousness. Naturalist, writer and illustrator Obi Kaufmann turns his scientific acumen and artist’s palette on California’s most contested natural resource, water; while Josie Iselin wades into the deep end with an in-depth look at the magic of seaweed. John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren take us into the revelatory practice of nature journaling.

Together, they’ll get into the weeds with a conversation that raises, and answers, the thorniest questions. How do these multifaceted artists learn the ecological nitty gritty of their subjects? How does science inspire not only the research that makes these books so fascinating, but also the artwork that makes them beautiful to behold? How does nature writing, as a literary genre, inform and deepen the impact of scientific research?

Obi Kaufmann, The California Field Atlas and The State of Water
John Muir Laws, How To Teach Nature Journaling
Emilie Lygren, How To Teach Nature Journaling
Josie Iselin, The Curious World of Seaweed

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners

 Event Airs: Tuesday, July 14th, 7 pm PDT


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7:00 PM
  • Literary
  • Middle Grade
  • Writing & Publishing
  • YA (Young Adult)

2020 Bay Area Book Festival Writing Contest Showcase

Wednesday, July 15

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

The Bay Area Book Festival’s Writing Contest aims to encourage people to engage with the craft of writing. This year’s prompt was centered around the theme of expectations, and submissions were judged in three categories: Adult (18+), High School, and Middle School. There was a first, second, and third place winner in each category, and we’re excited to showcase many of them here. To read their full pieces, visit this page: https://www.baybookfest.org/2020-writing-contest/.

To read their full pieces, visit this page: https://www.baybookfest.org/2020-writing-contest/.


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7:00 PM
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

Braving Deep Waters: Female Fearlessness and Friendship with Sue Monk Kidd and Lisa See

Thursday, July 16th

7:00 PM - 8:15 PM

Dive into an exploration of female power and brilliance like you’ve never seen before with bestselling authors Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees, The Invention of Wings) and Lisa See (The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane) moderated by Aimee Phan (The Reeducation of Cherry Truong). Lisa’s latest novel, the multi-generational saga The Island of Sea Women, unforgettably brings us into the lives and adventures of Mi-ja and Young-sook, two best friends on the Korean island of Jeju, who join their village’s all-female diving collective at a tender age. Sue’s newest novel, The Book of Longings, praised by the New York Journal of Books as “a practically perfect historical novel…from a writer at the top of her game,” puts us in the skin of Ana, a gifted Galilee rebel whose chance encounter with Jesus Christ changes her life forever. Meet these phenomenal authors at the fascinating intersection between tradition and bold self-realization, where the roles of friend, daughter, iconoclast, and artist converge.

Sue Monk Kidd, The Book of Longings
Lisa See, The Island of Sea Women
Aimee Phan, The Reeducation of Cherry Truong

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7:00 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality
  • Literary

Coming Together When Things Fall Apart: Giving Voice to Emotional Truth in Our Times

Wednesday August 5

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

When this compelling all-star event aired live as a ticketed fundraiser in May 2020, the response was powerfully moving. “Incredible,” “fascinating,” and “you’re helping me to feel less isolated” were just a few of the comments from attendees. We’re thrilled to make this nourishing event available to everyone, at a time when its lessons and takeaways are more relevant than ever. Best-selling novelist R.O. Kwon’s New York Times essay about grief in times of uncertainty—an all-too-pertinent theme in our current moment—was the inspiration for this conversation. In a raw, emotionally profound exchange not without its moments of levity and transcendence, she was joined by Pulitzer Prize winners Anthony Doerr, whose blockbuster World War II novel All the Light We Cannot See illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another; and Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose witty, exquisite The Sympathizer captures the ambivalence and humanity of “a man of two minds” in the midst of a traumatic war. These literary luminaries share an uncanny gift for describing the indescribable, and that’s exactly what they do in a conversation that has made many of us feel seen and understood in all our complexity. Moderated by award-winning author Danielle Evans, whose beautiful Sewanee Review essay about sheltering-in-place, “How to Be Alone,” was recently adapted and updated for an episode of NPR’s “This American Life.”

Anthony Doerr, All The Light We Cannot See
Danielle Evans, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
R.O. Kwon, The Incendiaries
Viet Thahn Nguyen, The Sympathizer

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7:00 PM
  • Free
  • Native American
  • Teen
  • Writing & Publishing

Native Voices – featuring the Essayists of the 2020 Graton Writing Project

Friday, August 14th

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

The Graton Writing Project is a series of writing workshops open to middle- and high-school Native students from Sonoma, California, that culminates in a published youth anthology. This year, students were asked to write on the theme of environmental issues. Come hear the students read excerpts from their pieces and share their insights. Presented by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

7:00 PM
  • Environment/Nature
  • Food
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality

Merlin Sheldrake and Michael Pollan on Entangled Life: What the Secret Social Networks of Fungi Reveal About Nature’s Genius and Being Human

Wednesday August 26

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

In 2016, a New Yorker profile by famed naturalist Robert Macfarlane introduced the world to one of the most important young thinkers of our age: Merlin Sheldrake. Moving from the labs of Cambridge to the jungles of Central America, this revolutionary plant scientist had a hunch that fungi possess superpowers far beyond the mushrooms we know, however mind-blowing their culinary or psychedelic varieties might be. He discovered that fungi are an ancient underground communication network that undergirds the natural world and offers inspiration for rethinking human society.

Merlin’s riveting first book, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures, has become an instant classic of nature and philosophy — a work of rigorous science and poetic expression, drawing us into the mystery and meaning of this most magical life form.

In this conversation, which originally aired as a sold-out ticketed event and is now being made available to the public, Merlin and bestselling nature and culture writer Michael Pollan (How to Change Your Mind, The Omnivore’s Dilemma) delve into “The Wood Wide Web”: an enchanting “superorganism” whose secrets just might save the world. Their conversation had attendees on the edge of their seats, giving everyone a peek behind the curtain of a hidden world’s magic. “[Pollan and Sheldrake had] fantastic chemistry…It was a joy to witness” and “I am now obsessed with mushrooms,” were just a couple post-event reactions. We invite you to get obsessed, too. This event is for everyone who believes that wonder still exists and hope can be found in the unlikeliest places: around us, under us, even inside us.

Thank you to our program sponsors: Fantastic Fungi, Back to the Roots, MAPS, Mycological Society of San Francisco, Chacruna, Tam Integration, MUD/WTR, and 11th Hour Project.


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Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures
Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners

Program Sponsors


7:00 PM
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality
  • Women/Gender

Women Lit #UNBOUND: Alexandra Roxo, Carol Queen: Rewrite Your Story: Embracing the Divine Feminine

Wednesday, September 16

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

This video includes passages that are sexually explicit and may not be appropriate for all viewers.

Why is it so hard for so many of us to feel comfortable in our own skin and claim our own power? “Because,” writes transformational healer Alexandra Roxo in her magnetic debut, F*ck Like a Goddess, “each of us has been conditioned, programmed, and literally brainwashed into thinking we are not enough.” According to Alexandra, the solution to disempowerment, insecurity and sexual dissatisfaction is to rewrite the story we’ve been told about our own worth and value. And that’s exactly what F*ck Like a Goddess shows us how to do. This electrifying, earthy, fearlessly honest guide to personal liberation has been praised by bestselling inspirational author Emma Mildon as “the ultimate read for those ready to step into their whole damn self.” Alexandra’s in-person retreats for women are legendary for their transformational magic, and F*ck Like a Goddess showcases their greatest lessons, insights, and methods. As Harper’s Bazaar raved, “Simply being around Roxo’s exhilarating, vivacious presence is a revitalizing retreat in and of itself.” Joining Alexandra is staff sexologist at Good Vibrations and award winning author, activist, and sex educator, Dr. Carol Queen. Awaken to the power to rewrite your story, in conversation with two visionaries whose warmth and charisma is truly infectious.

Alexandra Roxo, F*ck Like a Goddess

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7:00 PM
  • Culture
  • Current Affairs
  • Race/Identity

Politics, Race, and the State of Play in our Nation

Saturday, October 3

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

It’s 2020, the year of all hell breaking loose—so why not let it break loose in friendly (and hilarious) company? Good friends and headline-makers W. Kamau Bell, an Emmy-winner for CNN’s United Shades of America (Robin Williams called him “ferociously funny”), and Steve Kerr, outspoken head coach of the three-time NBA champs Golden State Warriors, are teaming up to raise the good kind of hell, talking all things race, power, dissent, the intersection of sports and activism, and comedy as coping mechanism and vehicle for truth. In a free-wheeling conversation refereed by yet a third friend of theirs, Dacher Keltner, founding director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, the comedian and the coach will hold nothing back, and you’ve got (virtual) courtside seats. Berkeley might have been famous in the 1960s for its free speech movement, but this 21st century version—as uncensored and envelope-pushing as 2020 demands—might just teach us new ways of speaking truth to power. Laugh, cheer, reflect, and get fired up (and maybe a little out of bounds) with this totally unique conversation, only in Berkeley #UNBOUND.

Featuring

Sociopolitical comedian W. Kamau Bell is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning CNN docuseries United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell. His Netflix special, Private School Negro, was praised by TIME for “finding the comic absurdity in darkness,” and he is the author of The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6’4”, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian. Full bio.

Currently in his sixth season as head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr has guided the club through four of the most prolific seasons in NBA history, with a list of accomplishments that includes three NBA championships and four of the five most victorious seasons in franchise history. He is also the first to win three NBA titles as a player and three as a coach. He’s also an outspoken activist for racial justice who the Guardian has called “an essential voice of reason in a world in which reason dies on cable news,” a vocal supporter of Black Lives Matter, a proponent of gun control, and a persistent thorn in the President’s side. Full bio.

A professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center, Dacher Keltner has consulted for the Center for Constitutional Rights to help end solitary confinement, as well as for Google, Facebook, the Sierra Club, and Pixar’s blockbuster film Inside Out. He is the co-author of Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, The Compassionate Instinct, and The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence. Full bio.

This program is brought to you by Literary Hub


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Zoom Webinar

11:00 AM
  • Culture
  • Current Affairs
  • Race/Identity
  • Women/Gender

The Radical Necessity of Nonviolence

Sunday, October 4

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

“The choice today,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1960, “is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” Six decades later, there has never been a more important time to understand what nonviolence really means, and what it’s not. Our nation is rocked by protests, with more uprisings on the horizon; and on a global stage, nuclear-armed countries flirt with mutually assured destruction. What is the path forward? Eminent theorist Judith Butler overturns common assumptions about nonviolence, offering a profound definition that can help us achieve a world where peace and equality arise from the recognition of “living interdependency.” In conversation with scholar Stephen Best (None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life), Butler will illuminate a path of resistance by showing us how “the significance of nonviolence is not to be found in our most pacific moments, but precisely when revenge makes perfect sense.” Get ready to discover what it means to practice “rageful love, militant pacifism, aggressive nonviolence, [and] radical persistence.”

Featuring

Heralded as one of the most pioneering and influential thinkers of our age, for the past thirty years celebrity theorist and political activist Judith Butler has overturned fundamental assumptions that undergird human relations. Professor Butler is best known for Gender Trouble (1990), which became a founding text of queer theory and has radically shaped today’s social norms. Butler’s thirteen other sole-authored books have continued to rethink gender, sexuality, feminism, identity, ethics, political speech, and violence with titles such as Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence and Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? Butler’s latest, The Force of Nonviolence: The Ethical in the Political, unpacks a vision of social action led by nonviolence “as a shrewd and even aggressive collective political tactic” (New York Times). Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Full bio.

Stephen Best, Professor of English at UC Berkeley, is the author of two books examining facets of black subjectivity, law and rhetoric, and the nexus between slavery and historiography, The Fugitive’s Properties: Law and the Poetics of Possession and None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life. Best’s work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Hellman Foundation, the Humanities Research Institute (University of California), and the Ford Foundation. Full bio.

This program is brought to you by Literary Hub


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Main Stream

11:00 AM
  • Current Affairs
  • Women/Gender
  • YA (Young Adult)

Protest + Print: Girls Using Words and Pictures for Activism

Sunday, October 4

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Presented on our YA Stream

At Girls Garage in Berkeley, girls use power tools to build the world they want to see. But a different kind of world-building also takes place at Girls Garage: the kind that creates a vision for a better and more equitable future. Proving that words and pictures can be just as transformative as power tools, a class called Protest + Print empowers girls to translate their hopes, dreams, fears, and anger into activism around the issues they care about most. Led by instructor HyeYoon Song and Executive Director Emily Pilloton, Protest + Print is a cohort of high school girls channeling the legacy of printmaking to make art that’s visually arresting, powerfully participatory, and unapologetically activist. Also featuring teen Protest + Print participant and recent high school graduate Malaya Conui (Oakland School For The Arts, 2020), this conversation will center on how art and writing can amplify activist voices, particularly in a political moment charged with racial and gender inequity.

Featuring

As a young designer, Emily Pilloton was frustrated by the design world’s scarcity of meaningful work: work that incorporated a human factor. Unable to find a model that spoke to her, she built her own. Fast forward to Berkeley, where Pilloton founded Girls Garage, a nonprofit design and building program and dedicated workspace for girls ages 9-18. Their motto? “Fear Less. Build More.” Pilloton has taught thousands of young girls in Berkeley how to use power tools, weld, and build projects for their communities. Her latest book, Girls Garage: How to Use Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build the World You Want to See, was released in June 2020. Full bio.

Artist and arts educator HyeYoon Song is the lead instructor for Girls Garage’s PROTEST + PRINT program, a venue for girls to explore and express the complex personal and political issues that impact their daily lives. Born in South Korea and with experiences of migration to New Zealand and, eventually, Berkeley, Song explores landscape, identity and narrative in her work by exploring the vocabularies of print and the multiple in an unconventional and multi-disciplinary context and her practice extends into designing project-based curriculum integrating technical skills to equip youth to exercise their voices and power. Full bio.

Malaya Conui is a young visual artist and student from Oakland, California. Her work, both in art and community organizing, focuses on Asian American identity, representation, education, social justice, and community building. Conui’s primary mediums are painting, screen printing, and digital design. She has recently graduated from Oakland School for the Arts and is currently attending UCLA. Full bio.

This program is brought to you by Wareham Development


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YA Stream

12:00 PM
  • Teen
  • Writing & Publishing
  • YA (Young Adult)

Unleash Your Creative Superpowers with National Novel Writing Month

Sunday, October 4

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Presented on our YA Stream

This conversation comes with an artistic advisory: prepare to dive deep into your imagination and be surprised by what you might find. You’re about to enter the place where dreams (and stories) begin. National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), founded in Berkeley in 1999, has grown into the largest writing event in the world, boasting 500,000 annual participants, including 100,000 kids and teens in its Young Writers Program. Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone’s story matters. NaNoWriMo is all about getting that story on the page. If something has been holding you back—whether it’s lack of time or knowledge, or the idea that writing novels is something only adults can do—then let teen author Meridith Lackey, middle grade author Shanthi Sekaran, and YA author R.C. Barnes help you get your creative juices flowing, banish your inner critic, and take the creative risks to write the novel of your dreams.

Featuring

It’s a love letter to her adolescent years in Berkeley, R.C. Barnes’s first book in her YA Tattoo Teller series Ink for the Beloved, featuring a fearless teenage detective who possesses a unique psychic talent involving tattoos. R.C. (also known as Robin Claire) was a long-time executive at Walt Disney Studios and has published many short stories in sci-fi/mystery and dystopian anthologies. Barnes works as a writing coach and is a college essay reader at Berkeley High. Full bio.

Shanthi Sekaran is a novelist who lives in Berkeley. Her first middle grade novel, The Samosa Rebellion, will be out in the fall of 2021, and her last novel for adults is Lucky Boy. When Sekaran isn’t writing novels, she is part of the writing team for New Amsterdam, an NBC television series. She plays soccer and the ukulele and has two sons and a cat. Full bio.

This year will be high school sophomore Meridith Lackey’s first year of officially participating in NaNoWriMo, having never done so before due to school. She has completed three co-authored manuscripts in the past four years and is presently beginning work on what she hopes will be her first complete solo project. In addition to writing, Meridith also plays tuba, is an advocate for proper representation of asexuals in the media and, now that she is stuck at home, is finally getting those extra 2-3 hours of sleep she needed. Full bio.

Marya Brennan is NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Programs Director. She believes that writing fiction is a transformative experience, and she loves helping people (young and old) discover the magic of this process. She taught middle-school English for five years, has written several beautiful, messy novels (one still in progress), and traveled Europe as part of a two-person street circus. She loves revising words she’s already written and making herself laugh. She’s less fond of writing third-person bios. Full bio.

This program is brought to you by Wareham Development


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YA Stream

12:00 PM

BOLD VISIONS: 12 – 12:30pm

Sunday, October 4

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM

Click on the speaker names to watch their video

Jesse Arreguín, Mayor of Berkeley – How the City is creating positive change through policy

Rafael Jesús González, Berkeley Poet Laureate – Speaking out for truth and compassion

Laurie Rich, Brower Center – How the Brower creates opportunities for the community

Donald Frazier, Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency – Better solutions for supporting the homeless

Reiko Redmonde, Revolution Books – Supporting revolutionary ideas for change

Grant Faulkner, NaNoWriMo – In one month, write your own novel

Main Stream

12:30 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Environment/Nature
  • Literary
  • Race/Identity
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Women/Gender

Writing a New World Into Existence: Lessons from Literary Futurism

Sunday, October 4

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

It’s been demonstrated that reading fiction increases empathy. Can it also unlock a blueprint for our future, at a moment when we need new ways of defining what’s possible? Four of Berkeley’s most visionary novelists, known for their ability to conjure exciting “future histories” with words, come together to discuss how literature and the imagination can light a bold path to progress.

Featuring:

Aya de Leon teaches creative writing at UC Berkeley, where she directs the Poetry for the People program founded by the legendary June Jordan. She first came to national attention as a slam poetry champion, and went on to attract a following with her Justice Hustlers feminist heist novels, which have won first place International Latino Book Awards and Independent Publisher Awards. Her 2019 novel Side Chick Nation was the first novel to be published about Puerto Rico’s devastating Hurricane Maria. Her work, which she describes as “fiction of empathy,” hits a sweet (and subversive) spot where forward-thinking consciousness and breathtaking suspense collide. Full bio.

Annalee Newitz has a lot to say about the future. A science journalist and lecturer in American studies at UC Berkeley, Newitz is an award-winning author of speculative and science fiction, praised by actor and sci-fi tastemaker Wil Wheaton as “leading the vanguard” of a new revolution in the genre. The New York Times called A Future of Another Timeline, Newitz’s feminist time-travel novel, “breathtakingly brilliant.” Their newest book, Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age, animates the erased inhabitants of four ancient settlements from Europe to Asia to the American Midwest, in a past-to-future journey that, according to N.K. Jemison, “sees to the heart of complex systems and breaks them down with poetic ferocity.” Newitz also founded io9, a website that covers the sci-fi world. Full bio.

One of America’s most significant literary figures, Ishmael Reed has created an indelible legacy with more than thirty books of poetry, prose, essays, and plays marked by surrealism, satire, and razor-sharp political commentary. His work, raved about by cultural icons from Tupac Shakur to Thomas Pynchon, has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, among other honors, and he has received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award. His before-its-time satire Mumbo Jumbo, reissued in 2017 as a Penguin Modern Classic, is hailed for its prescient vision of race in America. Reed’s creative futurism finds expression not only in his formidable body of work, but in his long history championing the full spectrum of American literary voices, including those traditionally marginalized, as evidenced by his founding of the Before Columbus Foundation. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley, for 35 years. Full bio.

Shanthi Sekaran is a celebrated writer and educator based in Berkeley. Her work, which takes a subversive, gripping approach to exploring motherhood, class, immigration, and privilege, has appeared in venues such as The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Los Angeles Review of Books. Most recently, she’s joined the writers’ room of the NBC drama New Amsterdam. Her latest novel, Lucky Boy, was named an NPR Best Book of 2017, and her debut middle grade book, The Samosa Rebellion, is forthcoming. Full bio.

This program is brought to you by Literary Hub


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Main Stream

1:30 PM

BOLD VISIONS: 1:30 – 2:00pm

Sunday, October 4

1:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Click on the speaker names to watch their video

Rafael Jesús González, Berkeley Poet Laureate – On being a Poet Laureate

Dee Williams-Ridley, Berkeley City Manager – How the City is creating justice and equity

Emily Pilloton, Girls Garage – Empowering girls and raising their voices to create change

Boona Cheema, Past Chair, Berkeley Albany Mental Health Commission – On mental health solutions and homelessness

Steve Wasserman, Heyday – How books can support big ideas and create change

Sharon Dolan and Natalia Neira, Berkeley Cultural Trust – How arts organizations work together as one voice

Main Stream

2:00 PM
  • Current Affairs

LIVE! Embracing the Other

Sunday, October 4

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Late Congressman John Lewis called the coming election “the most important ever.” The national schisms that led to the election of Donald Trump have become even deeper over the past four years. How can we address the anger and divisiveness, the “othering” that fuels persistent racism, political dysfunction, raging culture wars, and rises in violence? At this major inflection point in our society, can the nation be healed?

Featuring

One of the most influential sociologists of our time, Arlie Russell Hochschild is author of nine books, including the National Book Award Finalist and New York Times bestseller Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, which became a guide and balm for a country struggling to understand the election of Donald Trump. Full bio.

john a. powell is the Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley, holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion and is a Professor of Law, African American Studies, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. john is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society. Full bio.

This program is brought to you by North Berkeley Wealth Management and Literary Hub

   


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Main Stream

3:00 PM

BOLD VISIONS: 3:00 – 3:30pm

Sunday, October 4

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Click on the speaker names to watch their video

Carol Christ, Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley – On higher education for all

Ka’Dijah Brown, Berkeley Unified School District – Equity and opportunity in public education

Tess Mayer, Berkeley Public Library – How the Public Library can play a central role

Alfred Twu and Greg Magofña, East Bay For Everyone – Get involved and create the change you seek

Doris Moskowitz, Moe’s Books – How local bookstores create community

Johanna Pfaelzer, Berkeley Repertory Theatre – How provocative theatre can inspire change

Main Stream

3:30 PM
  • Current Affairs
  • Food
  • Free

Food Is Fundamental

Sunday, October 4

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Even before COVID-19 shined a light on the precarity faced by food servers, farm laborers, and meat processing workers—and how their working conditions impact us all—it was clear that we were desperately in need of a food revolution. From the environmental toll of factory farming to the health dangers stemming from corporate control of food and water, our current food system is failing us, our kids, and the planet. Where can we turn for a scalable vision of a sustainable, equitable, and delicious future?

Look no further than two culinary iconoclasts: Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters, legendary maven of the “slow food movement,” and firecracker food labor activist Saru Jayaraman. Their ideas, advocacy, and leadership have helped change the way we think about growing and consuming food, from seed to soil to serving platter. Now they’re coming together, in a time of climate change, pandemics, and global hunger, to examine how we got here, and cook up a bold recipe for implementing transformative changes to our food system. You’ll savor this forward-thinking conversation, moderated by Davia Nelson of NPR’s The Kitchen Sisters, about creating a revolution that sticks—to our principles, and our ribs.

Featuring

Food activist Saru Jayaraman is no stranger to the bright light of recognition: she’s appeared on CNN and NBC Nightly News, was named a Champion of Change by the Obama White House, and was Amy Poehler’s date to the Golden Globes in 2018 to shine awareness on harassment in the restaurant industry. But as Director of the UC Berkeley’s Food Labor Research Center and President of One Fair Wage, she organizes on behalf of an often-invisible workforce: tipped workers, many of them women of color and immigrants, who are struggling to survive. The author of books—including her latest, Bite Back: People Taking on Corporate Food and Winning, with Kathryn De Master—that map out a long-overdue food-industry revolution, Saru is the co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), a restaurant-worker-powered nonprofit that now has tens of thousands of members nationwide. Full bio.

Called “the maven of the slow-food movement” by PBS NewsHour, author and food activist Alice Waters is the founder and owner of Berkeley’s legendary Chez Panisse Restaurant, where she spearheaded an organic and locally-grown revolution that has indelibly transformed the food landscape. “The Alice Waters Effect,” as her legacy is known, is powered by the belief that good food should be available to everyone. This simple-but-profound credo has left its mark on everything from agriculture to fine dining to education. The Edible Schoolyard Project, which Alice founded in Berkeley in 1995, now exists in 33 countries; and she received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama for her visionary commitment to food as a moral and social issue. With fifteen books under her belt, including the New York Times bestsellers The Art of Simple Food I & II and Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook, Alice continues to pioneer new visions of sustenance in an era that needs them more than ever. Full bio.

Davia Nelson, along with co-producer Nikki Silva, is one half of NPR’s dynamic duo The Kitchen Sisters, whose Hidden Kitchens on Morning Edition has uncovered culinary revelations ranging from the immigrant story behind Rice-a-Roni to the dramatic birth of the Frito.  Praised by The New Yorker for “producing immersive, beautifully observed, historically relevant stories for public radio since 1979,” The Kitchen Sisters have won two Peabody Awards and a James Beard Award, as well as trained a new generation of voices for public media at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Davia is also a screenwriter and casting director who has worked on such films as The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Rock. She and Nikki are working on their second book, Show the Girls the Snakes, as well as their first Broadway musical. Full bio.

This program is brought to you by the Schmidt Family Foundation


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Main Stream

4:30 PM

BOLD VISIONS: 4:30 – 5pm

Sunday, October 4

4:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Click on the speaker names to watch their video

Kate Harrison, Berkeley Councilmember – How the City Council and downtown can support inclusion

Tracey Taylor, Cityside – On local press and digital media transforming local communities

Trisha Low, Small Press Distribution – Creating equity and accessibility in literature

Eric Fenster, Gather Restaurant – On the loss of gathering, restaurants, and creating community

Deborah Lewis, Berkeley Food Network – On accessible food for everyone

Hisae Matsuda, Parallax Press – Bringing spirit and wisdom through literature

Rafael Jesús González, Berkeley Poet Laureate – It’s time to awaken to the call of Justice

Main Stream

5:00 PM

How the Constitution Can Save Us

Sunday, October 4

5:00 PM - 5:45 PM


It’s not an exaggeration to say that the future of the American republic hangs in the balance. There are few levers as powerful in tipping that balance as interpretations of the U.S. Constitution by the Supreme Court. One of the nation’s preeminent constitutional law scholars, Erwin Cherminsky, asserts that there has never been a more important time to adopt a progressive vision of the U.S. Constitution, a living blueprint that can ensure justice, equality, and opportunity for all.

Featuring

Erwin Chemerinsky is the dean of Berkeley Law, one of the top-cited legal experts in the nation, and author of numerous books, including the core text on constitutional law for law schools nationwide, the popular bestseller We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century, and The Religion Clauses: The Case for Separating Church and State, published in September 2020. Full bio.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee is the highest ranking African American woman — and forceful, progressive voice — in the United States Congress where she has served with distinction since 1998. Full bio.


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Main Stream

2:00 PM

Women Lit #UNBOUND: Poised to Soar: Nature-Writing Sensation Helen Macdonald with Vesper Flights

Tuesday, October 6 at 2:00 PM

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Helen Macdonald’s bestselling memoir H is For Hawk, a transcendent meditation on grief, relationships, and falconry, established her as one of the world’s foremost nature and culture writers. She’s setting our imaginations soaring again with Vesper Flights, a collection of her best-loved essays, illuminating everything from mushroom-hunting to the poignant particulars of birds’ nests. As Helen wrote, “animals don’t exist in order to teach us things,” but her live conversation with American Book Award-winning poet Camille T. Dungy will show us how much we can learn by letting nature keep its secrets.

Due to evacuation orders in West Marin, book shipments for this event have been delayed. We will get your books to you as quickly and safely as we can. Thank you for your patience.

In association with the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (EAC) the Golden Gate Audubon Society, and Bay Nature.

7:00 PM

Women Lit #UNBOUND: Extraordinary Dreamer: Musical and Literary Icon Patti Smith’s Year of The Monkey

Thursday, October 8 at 7:00 PM

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

ONE-TIME ONLY EVENT, NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN! This reading, discussion and performance, direct from Patti’s studio, will NOT be shared online later. Though virtual, it’s like a concert that will never be repeated. Join us for an unforgettable experience!

Patti Smith redefined rock and roll for a generation, defied conventional expectations at every turn, and created enough zeitgeist-shaping art for more than one lifetime. Now she has something new and beautiful to share: a “beautiful, elegant, and poetic” (NPR) memoir chronicling a transformational year of personal loss, cross-country travel, and political upheaval. Year of the Monkey reprises the spellbinding storytelling we all fell in love with in her National Book Award-winning Just Kids and bestselling M Train, conjuring the complexity and magic of an extraordinary dreamer’s inner life. In this unique experience, Patti will play a few songs with longtime band mate Tony Shanahan and share passages from Year of the Monkey.


Event Admission: $35
Includes a paperback copy of Year of the Monkey from our partner, City Lights Booksellers.

Due to the ongoing public health situation, book orders may be delayed. Please contact City Lights if you have a specific question about your book. Book orders will begin shipping on October 8th.

7:00 PM
  • Culture
  • International

Meaning in the Music: A Conversational Duet with Fantastic Negrito and Timbuktu

Wednesday, October 14

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Join us for an amazing conversation that we guarantee will lift you up! Two-time Grammy winner and Oakland native Fantastic Negrito (blues and black roots music) meets multiracial, eight-time Swedish Grammy-winning rapper (and debut author) Timbuktu — and each discovers a brother. In a highly personal conversation, these two extraordinary artists, each with a huge fan base, share their experiences of racism, fatherhood, ancestors, and what it means to be an “elder.” They talk especially about gratitude, joy, and of course the power of music. The hour includes a riveting performance clip of a full song by each of them, which they discuss.

Raised in an Orthodox Muslim household (which he left at twelve, running away into the streets of Oakland), Fantastic Negrito describes himself as “the incarnation of a musician who is reborn after going through a lot of awful s**t.” His latest album, “Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?’”, came out this past August. Fans call his music “medicine for the soul” and state, “This is the art the world should be experiencing right now” (YouTube comments).

Timbuktu’s most recent creative work was literary: the award-winning memoir A Drop of Midnight (published under his real name, Jason Diakité), which was a major bestseller in Sweden and was recently translated into English. Born to interracial American parents in Sweden, Timbuktu is part Swedish, American, black, white, Cherokee, Slovak, and German. The memoir describes his journey, both physical and emotional, into understanding his own identity — from South Carolina slavery to twenty-first-century Sweden. Readers call the memoir “heartfelt, vivid, raw and superbly written” and “magnificent” (quotes from Amazon, where the book is rated 4.4/5).

Come catch a bit of music history being made as these two renowned artists connect for the first time.


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Timbuktu (aka Jason Diakité), A Drop of Midnight

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7:00 PM

Women Lit #UNBOUND: Experience Real Change with Mindfulness Teacher Sharon Salzberg

Wednesday, October 21

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Author of Real Happiness and columnist for the Peabody Award-winning On Being, Sharon Salzberg has built a devoted fanbase and major excitement for her latest book, Real Change. A renowned figure in the world of meditation, Salzberg offers us a guide for harnessing mindfulness in ways that benefit ourselves, our loved ones, and the world around us. She dispenses her invaluable wisdom, expertise, and counsel for vanquishing fear and anxiety at a time when awareness of mental health and emotional well-being is more important and necessary than ever.

Join Women Lit, Sharon Salzberg, and her fellow On Being columnist, Courtney E. Martin, for a dazzling night of transformation that is sure to deepen your understanding of your own inner power in the face of struggle.

This is a re-broadcast of a Women Lit  member-only LIVE webinar. To be able to participate in upcoming LIVE webinars, join Women Lit!

Sharon Salzberg, Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the World
Courtney E. Martin, The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners

“Inspiring, loving, and empowering. The perfect medicine for these difficult times.”

– Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart

“No matter what troubles have befallen you or what difficulties you have caused yourself or others, with love for yourself you can change, grow, make amends, and learn. Real love is not about letting yourself off the hook. Real love does not encourage you to ignore your problems or deny your mistakes and imperfections. You see them clearly and still opt to love.”

– Sharon Salzberg from her monthly column titled “Self-Love is an Adventure, Not a Destination”


Watch the full episode


7:00 PM

The Last Taboo: How Wealth Changes Everything

Wednesday, October 28

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

As a genre, memoir has never shied away from tough topics, but the subject of Jennifer Risher’s new book candidly grapples with what may be one of the last lingering taboos: money. Risher and her husband started working for Microsoft in the 90s, and found themselves unexpectedly millionaires in the thick of the dot-com boom. We Need to Talk: A Memoir About Wealth sensitively and introspectively examines the impact of personal wealth on everything from relationships to self-image to a sense of place in the world, within a framework of acute awareness of the dramatic income inequality in today’s America. In a frank and fearless conversation with Robin Richards Donohoe, whose venture philanthropy firm, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, tackles innovative solutions to social problems, Risher will get refreshingly real about a subject as discomfiting as it is necessary.

This is a re-broadcast of a Women Lit  member-only LIVE webinar. To be able to participate in upcoming LIVE webinars,  join Women Lit!

Jennifer Risher, A We Need to Talk: A Memoir About Wealth

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners

12:00 PM

WL #UNBOUND: Found in Translation: A Shared Language for Loss

Tuesday, November 17

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

A LIVE Webinar opportunity for Women Lit Members. To join this event, please join Women Lit – memberships start at $35!

Two extraordinary writers, separated by oceans but brought together in their brilliant excavation of emotional terrain, explore loss and grief in a cathartic conversation. MacArthur “genius” fellow Valeria Luiselli, with her novel The Lost Children Archive, innovatively blends fiction and archival materials in a profoundly personal exploration of the Central American migration crisis. Danish-language author Naja Marie Aidt’s memoir of grieving her son, When Death Takes Something From You Give it Back, praised by Kirkus as “a stirring, inventive masterpiece of heartbreak,” unforgettably gives shape to an almost indescribable absence. Moderated by board president and founder of the Center for the Art of Translation, Olivia Sears, these literary alchemists transcend boundaries of language, culture, and genre to help us understand one of the most difficult, complex, and universal of human experiences: that of loss.

This is a LIVE Webinar opportunity for Women Lit members. To attend this event, please join Women Lit!

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Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Korea, South Africa and India. An acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction, she is the author of the essay collection Sidewalks; the novels Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth; Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions and Lost Children Archive. She is the recipient of a 2019 MacArthur Fellowship and the winner of two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, The Carnegie Medal, an American Book Award,  and has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Kirkus Prize, and the Booker Prize. She has been a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and the recipient of a Bearing Witness Fellowship from the Art for Justice Fund. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney’s, among other publications, and has been translated into more than twenty languages. She is a Writer in Residence at Bard College and lives in New York City.

Naja Marie Aidt was born in Greenland and raised in Copenhagen. She is the author of several collections of poetry, a novel, and three short story collections, including “Baboon,” which won the 2008 Nordic Council Literature Prize, Scandinavia’s highest literary honor. Her work has been translated into sixteen languages.

Olivia E. Sears is founder of the Center for the Art of Translation and serves on the editorial board of Two Lines Press. As a translator from Italian, she recently appeared alongside poet Mariangela Gualtieri at PEN’s Women-in-Translation Month event, reading from work that has appeared or is forthcoming in The Arkansas International, Copper Nickel, and The Common. Her translations from Ardengo Soffici’s 1919 poetry volume BÏF§ZF+18: Simultaneities and Lyric Chemisms appear in Hyperallergic, Kenyon Review, Jubilat, and Poetry International. Her complete translation of Soffici’s landmark book is forthcoming from World Poetry Books (May 2021).

The recording of this event will be released to the public at a future date.