• Schedule

Watch all of our Keynotes, Interviews, and Panels

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  • Category

  • 2016

Chade-Meng Tan: Joy on Demand

Sunday, June 5


Author of the best-selling Search Within Yourself, Meng, as he is known by friends, is a genuine Jolly Good Fellow (his actual job title at Google, where he was employee #107). He’s back with another book that makes ancient spiritual practice possible in today’s fast-paced societies. Don’t have years to meditate? How about 15 seconds to joy? Come find out how.


Watch the full episode


  • 2016

Nordic Noir: A Continuing Attraction

Jørgen Brekke, Agnete Friis, Kati Hiekkapelto, and Lene Kaaberbøl, moderated by Mal Warwick

Sunday, June 5


Murder and mayhem in cold climes continue to fascinate readers like little else. Join this celebration of four exceptional writers from Norway, Denmark, and Finland, and their captivating stories that draw us deeply in.


Watch the full episode


  • 2016

The Untold Story of Route 66

Candacy Taylor, Caille Millner

Sunday, June 5


Fans of Route 66 will enjoy listening to historian and travel writer Candacy Taylor share stories and anecdotes about the historic byway. She will also dive into the relatively unknown story of “The Green Book,” which, during the Jim Crow era, listed Route 66 restaurants, hotels, salons, barbershops, nightclubs, tailors, garages, and real estate offices amenable to serving African American travelers.


Watch the full episode


  • 2016

Rebecca Solnit and John Freeman: A Conversation

Rebecca Solnit and John Freeman

Sunday, June 5


Welcome to a conversation about income inequality and the power of storytelling. In 2014, award-winning cultural critic Rebecca Solnit published an essay defining the moment when San Francisco (and the world) turned on Silicon Valley (as represented by Google buses). On the East Coast, acclaimed author and critic John Freeman edited Tale of Two Cities, a collection of essays contrasting the lives of New York City’s haves and have-nots (including Freeman’s own homeless brother).


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Power of Protest: Lessons from Hong Kong

Sunday, November 15


Produced by Bay Area Book Festival in collaboration with literary festivals worldwide

After a tumultuous year of protest, Hong Kong’s streets are quiet again following the adoption of the national security law on June 30. Join four experts for this indispensable analysis of the protest movement and its broader significance for freedom globally. In City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong, Hong Kong-based lawyer and writer Antony Dapiran takes readers to the frontlines of the protests and reveals the protesters’ unique tactics. In Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink, Jeffrey Wasserstrom, one of America’s leading China specialists, draws on his knowledge of the history of repression and resistance, to help us understand the deep roots and the broad significance of the events of 2019. These authors are joined by Financial Times news researcher Nicolle Liu, who reported from the streets throughout the protests. Conversation moderated by Orville Schell, author of several books on China, and Arthur Ross, Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society in New York.


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  • 2018
  • Current Affairs
  • Women/Gender

Rebecca Traister: Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger

October 10, 2018


Leading feminist journalist and thinker Rebecca Traister will discuss her new book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. This event is part of the book festival’s Women Lit series. The event kicks off our partnership with Inflection Point, the nationally syndicated radio show and podcast on how women rise up. Host Lauren Schiller will interview Traister in what’s going to be one amazing evening.

We’ll have an extra surprise at the Rebecca Traister event, thanks to our sponsor Hello!Lucky.


Watch the full episode


  • 2019
  • Environment/Nature
  • Women/Gender

Rapture, Grief, Beauty: Terry Tempest Williams introducing Erosion

October 17, 2019


“Terry Tempest Williams is our great activist laureate. Working out of the lineage of Dickinson, O’Keeffe, D. H. Lawrence, and, later, Abbey and Peacock, she is nonetheless singular and extraordinarily original. She is rooted as juniper yet ephemeral as a sand dune. The forces that have eroded her are rapture and grief. What remains is elemental beauty.”—Rick Bass, author of For a Little While

Terry Tempest Williams is a naturalist, an activist, and an introspective presence whose every word is authentic. Her new book, Erosion, explores the concept of erosion and its opposite, becoming, in the context of land, self, belief, and fear. She looks at the current state of American politics, implications of choices to gut wilderness and sacred lands, endangered species, drought, extraction, and contamination — along with transcendent moments of relief and refuge, solace and spirituality. Rebecca Solnit wrote of Erosion, “Terry Tempest Williams’s voice in the clamor is like a hot desert wind blowing away the litter in a crowded room and leaving behind only what has weight, what is essential. These are essays about the courage to face what is most brutal and monstrous, by finding what is most beautiful and merciful.”


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  • 2019
  • Women/Gender

Candace Bushnell Discussing Is There Still Sex in the City?

October 1, 2019


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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  • 2019
  • Women/Gender

Girls’ Saturday Night Out: An Evening with Jennifer Weiner

June 22, 2019


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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  • 2019
  • Women/Gender

A Conversation with Eve Ensler Discussing The Apology

June 13, 2019


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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  • 2019
  • Women/Gender

Rachel Cusk in Conversation with Brooke Warner

April 7, 2019


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.


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  • 2019
  • Women/Gender

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

February 21, 2019


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.


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  • 2018
  • International
  • Women/Gender

Courage, Honor and Hope: An Evening with Khalida Brohi

December 13, 2018


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.


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  • 2016
  • International
  • Literary
  • Travel

The Beautiful Island: Taiwan in the Literary Imagination


An island nation, Taiwan has famous night markets, adventurous terrain, hot spring resorts, a bamboo skyscraper—and one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores. These four authors, of Taiwanese descent or writing about Taiwan, include two very different novelists, a photographer/poet, and one of Asia’s best guidebook writers. They talk about how “place” becomes character in their writing. (And yes, they will take questions about travel tips.)


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  • 2016
  • Writing & Publishing

T. J. Stiles on the Art of Biography

T. J. Stiles, interviewed by Porter Shreve

Sunday, June 5


T.J. Stiles has won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography and the National Book Award for Nonfiction—but those are just the facts. As Stiles shows in his books and will discuss in this session, biographies are so much more than mere facts. How does he bring characters to life? Why, in his most recent biography, Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of America, did he spend relatively little time on the “last stand”?


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  • 2016
  • Literary

Is Fiction “Truer than Truth”? The Historical Novel

Christian Kracht, Shawna Yang Ryan, Steve Sem-Sandberg, and Naomi J. Williams, moderated by Janis Cooke Newman

Sunday, June 5


Historical novels take us inside the minds and hearts of characters from the past—some real, some made-up, but all coming to life in our imaginations. How do real events inspire fictional ones? These extraordinary writers bring us through tumultuous 20th-century Taiwan, the Lodz ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland, an ill-fated French maritime expedition in the late 18th century, and a made-up coconut colony visited by a real German emigre in the early 20th century—with the discussion led by master historical novelist Janis Cooke Newman, who takes us to WWII-era New York and Germany.


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  • 2016
  • YA (Young Adult)

Love…and Loss

Julie Buxbaum, Alyson Noël, and Nicola Yoon, moderated by Andrea Mullarkey

Saturday, June 4


“The sweetest honey is loathsome in its own deliciousness, and in the taste destroys the appetite. Therefore, love moderately,” says Friar Laurence to Romeo. True? Listen to four young adult authors talk about the trials and tribulations of teen romance in their books.


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  • 2015
  • Literary

A Very Special Evening with the Remarkable Judy Blume

Judy Blume interviewed by Walter Mayes

Saturday, June 6


Judy Blume is one of America’s most beloved authors. Her twenty-eight titles include Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Forever; and Summer Sisters. It’s a huge pleasure to welcome her to Berkeley, for a wide-ranging and spirited conversation, touching on her life, her books, her continuing championship of intellectual freedom for children and adults alike, and especially her brand-new book, In the Unlikely Event.


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  • 2015
  • Technology/Media

Google’s Laszlo Bock: Work Rules!

Laszlo Bock

Saturday, June 6


The head of People Operations at Google — which handles over 2 million resumes a year — Laszlo Bock pioneered a new way of analysing, attracting, developing and retaining talent. He offers a counterintuitive look behind the metrics of 21st-century hiring, showing how to strike a balance between creativity and structure to build a better company from within.


Watch the full episode


  • 2015
  • Environment/Nature
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy

Futurism, Fatalism and Climate Change

Paolo Bacigalupi, Edan Lepucki, John Scalzi, Antti Tuomainen, moderated by Mike Berry

Saturday, June 6


Call it “cli-fi,” “eco-fiction” or even “eco-fabulism,” there’s a movement afoot to address climate change through storytelling. What can literature reveal about how we will cope with dramatic alterations to the environment? A dynamic discussion moderated by San Francisco Chronicle science fiction and fantasy columnist Michael Berry.


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  • 2015
  • Culture

So Many Roads: 50 Years of the Grateful Dead

Blair Jackson, Dennis McNally, Peter Richardson, moderated by Nicholas Meriwether

Saturday, June 6


It wouldn’t be a Bay Area Book Festival without a panel on the quintessential Bay Area band. Four of the leading experts and insiders on all things Dead gather today to share their experiences, their knowledge and their appreciation for the band once known as the Warlocks.


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  • 2015

How We Die: Making Sense of Modern Death

Louise Aronson, Katy Butler, Monica Wesolowska, Jessica Nutik Zitter, MD, moderated by Zoe FitzGerald Carter

Saturday, June 6


Many of us are living longer than ever but are we living any better? Are we dying any better? In this panel, doctors, writers and caregivers will challenge our society’s current approach to death and dying and discuss how telling our stories can be a catalyst for change.


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  • 2015
  • Culture

Wendy Lesser: Why I Read

Wendy Lesser in conversation with Erik Tarloff

Saturday, June 6


The New York Times writes, “Wendy Lesser is a serious reader — a quality reader — and this book is a serious pleasure,” referring to her recent Why I Read. Don’t miss this conversation in which Lesser, editor of the arts journal The Threepenny Review discusses what it means to read great books, why books and reading matter, and how to enhance your own reading pleasure.


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  • 2015
  • Writing & Publishing

Exquisite Insanity: Moms Who Write

Katrina Alcorn, Aya de Leon, Carolina De Robertis, Kate Schatz, moderated by Michelle Tea

Saturday, June 6


We live in an era where women are pitted against each other based on parenting decisions. We hear narratives of “childless by choice” vs. mothers, and those who do parent are conscripted into mommy wars: working mothers vs. stay-at-home moms. This panel will include reports from one particular front of working motherhood: the writer mom. Why and how do they do it? Reports may take the form of coded messages, sleep-deprived scribblings, cries for help and/or reports of victory.


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  • 2015
  • Technology/Media

New Views of Narrative: How Technology Interfaces with Story

Lise Quintana, Eli Horowitz, Russell Quinn, moderated by Robin Sloan

Saturday, June 6


Narrative Technologies founder and CEO Lise Quintana, digital author Eli Horowitz, digital polymath Russell Quinn and media inventor and novelist Robin Sloan share a free-flowing discussion illuminating the platforms, purposes, joys and pitfalls as tech innovations breathe new life into storytelling forms and formats.


Watch the full episode


  • 2015
  • Environment/Nature

Ocean Planet

Wallace J. Nichols, David Helvarg, Steve Palumbi, John Weller, moderated by Michael McGinniss

Saturday, June 6


We, inhabitants of the islands of Earth, are surrounded by oceans. This panel of scientists, environmental activists, explorers and photographers examines the centrality of the oceans to our ecosystem, our psyche and our economy and considers the rising threats — and global response — to the environmental challenges facing our marine-waters.


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  • 2015
  • Current Affairs

Behind the Headlines in Palestine

Sandy Tolan, Mateo Hoke, moderated by Khalil Barhoum

Saturday, June 6


Buried far within headline news and political controversies are human stories. A veteran journalist and a younger journalist help tell the unforgettable, real stories of the people caught inside the conflict over Palestine.


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  • 2015
  • Writing & Publishing

The Business of Publishing, 2015 Edition

Ethan Nosowsky, David Streitfeld, Mark Tauber, Steve Wasserman, moderated by Mark Ouimet

Saturday, June 6


The publishing industry has brought us every book at this festival, but this industry has undergone massive change in response to the digital revolution and faces pressure from companies such as Amazon. How does the publishing industry work today? What are the challenges for new authors? Smaller independent publishers are thriving; how is this happening despite the consolidation of the “Big 5” publishing houses? The experts offer facts, observations, and opinions.


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  • 2015

Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem

Paula Williams Madison in conversation with Belva Davis

Saturday, June 6


Spanning four generations and moving between New York, Jamaica, and China, Paula Madison’s powerful memoir is a universal story of one woman’s search for her maternal grandfather and the key to her self-identity. It is a story about love and devotion that transcends time and race, and a beautiful reflection of the power of family and the interconnectedness of our world.


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  • 2015
  • Current Affairs

Transforming Terror

Mark Danner, Claudia Bernardi, Rebecca Solnit, moderated by Susan Griffin

Saturday, June 6


Terrorism hurts us all, if not with direct violence, injury or death then by eroding peace, community life and civil liberties. But public discourse around it is often shallow and manipulative. It’s time for a deeper look at this issue: what is terrorism and what should we do about it?


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  • 2015
  • Culture

On Acting

David Thomson in conversation with Steve Wasserman

Saturday, June 6


Does acting matter? David Thomson, one of our most respected and insightful writers on movies and theater, answers this question with intelligence and wit. Thomson tackles this most elusive of subjects, examining the allure of the performing arts for both the artist and the audience member while addressing the paradoxes inherent in acting itself. He reflects on the casting process, on stage versus film acting, and on the cult of celebrity.


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  • 2015
  • Culture
  • Current Affairs

Uncharted at the Bay Area Book Festival

Rob Forbes, Wallace Nichols, Ben Parr, moderated by Lance Knobel

Saturday, June 6


Get a taste of Berkeleyside’s stimulating, annual Uncharted Festival of Ideas (every October). See your surroundings afresh, understand the neurobiological benefits of being around water, and learn how to captivate your own audiences—all in twenty-minute, TED-style bites.


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  • 2015
  • Culture

Welcome to the Jungle: A Brief History of the Music Business

Dennis McNally, Joel Selvin, moderated by Peter Richardson

Saturday, June 6


Working with and writing about some of the key and most influential artists in American music history, these writers will be sharing the story of American rock from the inside out, including how it intersects with the vagaries of politics, publicity and power.


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  • 2015
  • Current Affairs

Roots of Violence

Åsne Seierstad, Mac McClelland, Lars Fredrik Svendsen, moderated by Adam Hochschild

Saturday, June 6


Few other species turn on their own members with the ferocity that human beings demonstrate. Our historical path is strewn with warfare, torture, mass murder and the abuse of women and children. Is it inherent our genes? Our souls? In the shapes of our societies? And is there any promise of improvement?


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  • 2015
  • Spirituality

Matthieu Ricard on Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World

Matthieu Ricard in conversation with Pico Iyer

Sunday, June 7


Presenting a global vision based on decades of personal experience and insight, cellular geneticist-turned Buddhist monk Ricard’s masterwork, Altruism, reveals that altruism is not an abstract ideal, but an essential dimension of our nature which can resolve the main challenges of our time: economic inequality, environmental sustainability, and life satisfaction.


Watch the full episode


  • 2015
  • Environment/Nature
  • Literary
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy

Paolo Bacigalupi in the Spotlight | The Water Knife

Paolo Bacigalupi

Sunday, June 7


The Water Knife Water is power. In the near future, a severe drought in the southwest has demolished Texas, and Phoenix is ravaged and desolate, on the verge of total breakdown. While the wealthy stay wet, the poor get the dust, buying water by the ($6-plus) gallon and struggle to find ways north through militarized borders at state lines. Welcome to The Water Knife by National Book Award winner Paolo Bacigalupi — and to a world that seems terrifyingly possible given the ongoing drought plaguing the west and southwest.


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  • 2015
  • Culture
  • Spirituality

An Hour With Peter Coyote

Peter Coyote in conversation with Gary Kamiya

Sunday, June 7


The guiding metaphor in Peter Coyote’s new spiritual biography is drawn from a line in a famous Bob Dylan song. For Coyote, the twin forces Dylan identifies as Texas Medicine and Railroad Gin represent the competing forces of the transcendental, inclusive, and ecstatic world of love and the competitive, status-seeking world of wealth and power. The Rainman’s Third Cure: An Irregular Education is the tale of a young man caught between these options and the journey that leads him through Greenwich Village jazz bars, government service, and success on stage and screen, and ultimately deep into Zen.


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  • 2015
  • Literary

Talking About Writing & All the What-Not: Daniel Handler and Rabih Alameddine Carry On

Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) and Rabih Alameddine

Sunday, June 7


They both live in San Francisco. One is a native San Franciscan, the other a Lebanese American born in Jordan. What could they possibly have in common? Come and see! From The Basic Eight to Lemony Snicket and the new We Are Pirates, Daniel Handler’s books entertain young, old, and in-between. Rabih Alameddine’s most recent book, An Unnecessary Woman, is a nuanced rendering of one woman’s life in the Middle East; it is a love letter to literature and its power to define who we are.


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  • 2015
  • Writing & Publishing

Writing the New Neighborhood: Narratives of the Shifting Cities

Lorna Dee Cervantes, Karen Tei Yamashita, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, moderated by Elmaz Abinader

Sunday, June 7


A lively roster of multi-genre writers discuss how to document the changing face of the Bay Area and embody our new multicultural, multilingual story. Arab American writer/performer/activist/teacher Elmaz Abinader will announce a new series of regional workshops led by VONA/Voices of Our Nations Arts, for writers of color. One of the major voices in Chicana literature, poet Lorna Dee Cervantes explores the cultural differences between natives and waves of immigrants in her native Bay Area. Karen Tei Yamashita’s polyphonic epic novel, I Hotel, documents Bay Area historical politics through ordinary and immigrant voices. Odilia Galván Rodríguez, eco-poet, writer, editor, and activist, is the author of four volumes of poetry, including Red Earth Calling.


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  • 2015
  • Current Affairs

The NFL and Its Discontents

Steve Fainaru, David Meggyesy, Dave Zirin, moderated by Peter Richardson

Sunday, June 7


As more critics weigh in on the dehumanizing aspects of professional football, tough questions about this most American of sports are entering mainstream conversation. These thorough and thoughtful journalists and writers offer their insiders’ views, observations and predictions.


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  • 2015
  • Poetry

How Poems Change the World

Jane Hirshfield, John Shoptaw, giovanni singleton

Sunday, June 7


Is world-changing inherent in poetry? Are there poems that change the world for the worse? These working poets share a concern for the environmental crisis and for issues around societal agreement. They’ll discuss the premise behind Hirshfield’s title: not only how great poems transform the world, but whether poems should do that and if, in fact, these poets think that they do.


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  • 2015
  • Food

The Science of Booze

Amy Stewart, Adam Rogers

Sunday, June 7


There are no better guides to the magic, mystery, lore, and, yes, science of alcohol and the drinks that are made with it. Expect a very spirited discussion, one from which you’ll learn a treasure trove of very useful information!


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  • 2015
  • Current Affairs

The Secret State: The Rise of National Surveillance & the Conflict Between Freedom & Security

Mark Danner, Karen Paget, Robert Scheer, moderated by Edward Wasserman

Sunday, June 7


Moderated by the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, our experts will assess the extent of threats to American liberty presented by today’s alarmingly shrouded surveillance state, and the precarious yet critical role of journalists in this context.


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  • 2015
  • Current Affairs

The Future of Sportswriting

John Branch, Mark Fainaru-Wada, Dave Zirin, moderated by Gary Pomerantz

Sunday, June 7


With issues ranging from physical safety to performance enhancing drug use, the world of sports has been undergoing major upheavals and self-reflection. This panel — moderated by Gary Pomerantz (​Their Life’s Work: the Brotherhood of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, Then and Now) — addresses the changing challenges of covering a money-spinning industry in some of its darkest hours.


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  • 2015
  • Writing & Publishing

Up Close with Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman

Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, in conversation with Kelly Corrigan

Sunday, June 7


Marriage, writing. Writing and marriage! With kids! How in the world do they make it work? Get an insiders’ view as this well-known and much-loved literary couple talk with author and host of Medium’s digital series “Foreword.”


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  • 2015
  • International
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers

Nordic Noir: Crime in Cold Climes

Thomas Enger, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, Antti Tuomainen, moderated by Cara Black

Sunday, June 7


Led by Bay Area-based Cara Black, author of the popular Aimee Leduc mystery series set in Paris, three Scandinavian masters of murder and mayhem discuss their work — from popular series to standalone stories — and our ongoing fascination with chilling thrillers set in Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden.


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  • Culture
  • International

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

Wednesday, October 14


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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How the Constitution Can Save Us

Sunday, October 4



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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  • Current Affairs
  • Food
  • Free

Food Is Fundamental

Sunday, October 4


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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  • Current Affairs

LIVE! Embracing the Other

Sunday, October 4


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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  • Culture
  • Current Affairs
  • Race/Identity
  • Women/Gender

The Radical Necessity of Nonviolence

Sunday, October 4


“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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  • 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


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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  • Current Affairs
  • Women/Gender
  • YA (Young Adult)

Protest + Print: Girls Using Words and Pictures for Activism

Sunday, October 4


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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  • Teen
  • Writing & Publishing
  • YA (Young Adult)

Unleash Your Creative Superpowers with National Novel Writing Month

Sunday, October 4


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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  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality
  • Women/Gender

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

Wednesday, September 16


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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The Last Taboo: How Wealth Changes Everything

Wednesday, October 28


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

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

Wednesday, October 21


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

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“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”


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  • 2015
  • Current Affairs
  • Technology/Media

The Internet Is Not the Answer

Kristen V. Brown, Andrew Keen

Saturday, June 6


“The Internet Is Not the Answer claims that the only real best friend today’s tech titans have is money, and until policymakers intervene, or until the ‘digital elite’ adopt a more altruistic posture, the Internet will remain a winner-take-all marketplace that’s widening a yawning gulf between society’s haves and have-nots.” (San Francisco Chronicle). Kristen V. Brown, tech reporter, seeks what is the answer.


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  • 2015
  • Culture
  • Current Affairs

Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit, Christian Frock

Saturday, June 6


She writes on topics from art to eviction, geography to feminism, environment to politics — all with impeccable, gorgeous prose. Rebecca Solnit is a Bay Area treasure, and here she is joined by Christian Frock, independent curator and author of Unexpected Art, for a free-wheeling hour of inspired conversation.


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  • 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


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

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Program Sponsors


  • Current Affairs
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality
  • Literary

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

Wednesday August 5


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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  • International
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

Strange Hotel: Irish Literary Sensation Eimear McBride

Tuesday, June 16


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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  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

Sacred and Profane: Debut Novelist Chelsea Bieker on Godshot

Sunday May 10


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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  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

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

Thursday, July 16th


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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  • Free
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality
  • Women/Gender

A Time for Transformation: Redefining Aging with Louise Aronson

Thursday, June 18th


 “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

Order your copies from one of our independent bookstore partners


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  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Race/Identity

The Unbreakable Human Spirit: Albert Woodfox on Survival in Solitary

Albert Woodfox interviewed by Shane Bauer

Sunday, May 5


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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  • 2019
  • Literary
  • Race/Identity

A Conversation with Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones interviewed by Brooke Warner

Sunday, May 5


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


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  • 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


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


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  • 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


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


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  • 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


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


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  • 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


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.


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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)

  • 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


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


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  • 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


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.


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  • 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


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


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  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Environment/Nature

The Uninhabitable Earth

David Wallace-Wells interviewed by Julian Brave NoiseCat

Sunday, May 5


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.


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  • 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


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


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  • 2019
  • Current Affairs
  • Free
  • Outdoor (Free)

Dear America: An Interview with Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas interviewed by Kate Campbell

Saturday, May 4


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


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  • 2019
  • International
  • Literary

Which Side Are You On? Loyalty in Fiction

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

Saturday, May 4


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”


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  • 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


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.”


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  • 2019
  • Culture
  • Environment/Nature
  • Literary

Horizon: Interview with Barry Lopez

Barry Lopez interviewed by John Freeman

Saturday, May 4


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.”


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  • 2018
  • Current Affairs

Resisting Hate with Free Speech

Nadine Strossen interviewed by Erwin Chemerinsky

Saturday, April 28


The question of limits on free speech has recently occupied our nation’s consciousness—as well as the physical streets of Berkeley. The American Civil Liberties Union has worked for nearly 100 years to arbitrate this question in times of intense political division, and now Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU, joins us to to present “HATE: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship”—appropriately released here in Berkeley, home of the Free Speech Movement. Strossen will be interviewed by UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

Sponsored by UC Berkeley Arts + Design


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  • 2018
  • International
  • Literary

Wrestling with the Devil: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o in Conversation

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o interviewed by Namwali Serpell

Saturday, April 28


Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is one of the world’s most prominent African writers working today, often on the radar for the Nobel Prize. He joins us to discuss the American release of “Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir.” In 1977, he was imprisoned by the Kenyan government in a maximum security facility because of his artistic defiance of a regime. In prison, he penned a novel—on toilet paper, the only paper to which he had access—that would become his classic, “Devil on the Cross.” He will discuss the prison experience, challenges of writing fiction under twenty-four-hour surveillance, and the spirit of defiance that defines hope. He testifies to the power of imagination to help humans break free of confinement, the story of all art. It is an honor to welcome him to Berkeley.
Sponsored by UC Berkeley Arts + Design


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  • 2018
  • Literary
  • Native American

Timeless Wisdom: Greg Sarris on Telling Tales and Native American Literary Tradition

Greg Sarris

Saturday, April 28


Greg Sarris wears many hats: award-winnning author, screenwriter, scholar, professor, and tribal chief of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. His latest book, “How a Mountain Was Made,” is a collection of stories inspired by traditional Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo creation tales; it celebrates the lore surrounding Sonoma Mountain. Timeless in wisdom and beauty, these fables are highly relevant to our times as they explore leadership, landscape, community, and responsibility to self and other. The Los Angeles Review of Books wrote, “Stunning…. Neither an arid anthropological text nor another pseudo-Indian as-told-to fabrication. Instead, Sarris has breathed new life into these ancient Northern California tales and legends.”

Sponsored by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria


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  • 2018
  • Health, Psychology & Spirituality
  • Literary

What Makes a Life Worth Living? Powerful Memoirs of Love and Loss

Lucy Kalanithi, Rebecca Soffer, Elizabeth Percer, moderated by Elizabeth Scarboro

Saturday, April 28


In his final year of life before dying of cancer, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi wrote the bestselling “When Breath Becomes Air,” probing how the mind makes meaning and why our lives matter. Now his widow, Lucy Kalanithi, is joined by Rebecca Soffer, editor of the new anthology “Modern Loss”, and writers Elizabeth Percer and Elizabeth Scarboro, to discuss mortality, survival, and how to navigate grief in the modern age.

Sponsored by SACHI – Society for Art & Cultural Heritage of India


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  • 2018
  • Current Affairs
  • Outdoor (Free)

Income Inequality: A World Gone Mad, Mean and Immoral

Steven Clifford, Jeff Clements, Robert Reich, moderated by John Diaz

Saturday, April 28


If you feel that income inequality today is insane, well, you’re right. Disparity in wages and opportunity between the rich and the rest of us has been growing more rapidly in the U.S. than in decades. This trend is fueling much of the unrest tearing apart civil life today. Three compelling writers unpack income inequality today. Steven Clifford takes us inside the machinations of corporate boardrooms and CEO suites and details the harm to the economy. Jeff Clements outlines why corporations are not people but nevertheless have more rights than you do, and what you can do about it. One of the most eloquent voices today combatting systemic inequality, Robert Reich has penned many books including the mega-bestseller “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few,” recent “Economics in Wonderland: Robert Reich’s Cartoon Guide to a Political World Gone Mad and Mean,” and the new “The Common Good.”

With support from the Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation


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  • 2018
  • Current Affairs
  • Literary

Viet Thanh Nguyen on Art and Politics

Viet Thanh Nguyen interviewed by Karen Tei Yamashita

Saturday, April 28


Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for his novel “The Sympathizer,” Viet Thanh Nguyen—fiction writer, essayist, activist, and UC Berkeley doctoral alum—has become an outspoken voice for refugee rights and justice for immigrants. In 2017 he received a MacArthur Genius Grant, and while he was commended for “challenging popular depictions of the Vietnam War and exploring the myriad ways that war lives on for those it has displaced,” his latest efforts move outward to the plight of refugees across the world. His lauded story collection “The Refugees” explores immigration, identity, love, and family. His latest project, “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives,” brings together a host of prominent writers. He joins us to today to talk with Karen Tei Yamashita, novelist and essayist on the immigrant experience, about the role of the writer in society, the importance of art to politics, and the power of the written word.

Sponsored by UC Berkeley Arts + Design


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  • 2018
  • Environment/Nature
  • History
  • Poetry

Gary Snyder & Kim Stanley Robinson: Mt. Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, and Naming What Can’t Be Named

Gary Snyder, Kim Stanley Robinson, Laurie Glover, introduced by Jack Shoemaker

Saturday, April 28


Legendary Zen poet (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Gary Snyder and his friend Kim Stanley Robinson, the renowned science fiction writer and environmentalist, had an adventure up their sleeve. They were going to hike up an unnamed peak in the Sierras near Mt. Emerson and christen it Mt. Thoreau. You aren’t allowed to just name peaks, as Robinson wrote in an account of the adventure, “Is It Civil Disobedience to Name a Mountain for Thoreau?” They did the deed, despite what they felt surely would have been Thoreau’s disapproval. They come to us now to talk about civil disobedience, nature writing, the environmental movement, poetry, and naming what can’t ultimately ever really be named. In conversation with Laurie Glover, the editor of “Naming Mt. Thoreau,” and Snyder’s longtime publisher Jack Shoemaker of Counterpoint Press.

Sponsored by the Journal of Alta California


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  • 2018
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

Lidia Yuknavitch in Person: On Fearlessness, Truth, and Misfits

Lidia Yuknavitch, interviewed by Daphne Gottlieb

Saturday, April 28


There is no other literary voice like Lidia Yuknavitch’s. She is a “bold and ecstatic writer” (NPR), a writer’s writer, “a trailblazing literary voice that spans genres and dives deep” (Lenny Letter). The author of the award-winning speculative feminist novel “The Book of Joan” and the hypnotic memoir “The Chronology of Water” has experienced domestic violence, struggles with substance abuse, bouts of homelessness, and the loss of a child. In a raw, fearless voice she interrogates conformity, love, sex, the body, memory, and writing itself and inspires her readers with the courage to live (and write) fully. A protege of Ken Kesey and inspired by Kathy Acker, she is a self-proclaimed “misfit” and has penned a book, enhanced by interviews, called “The Misfit’s Manifesto.” Come hear her calls for authenticity in life and literature.


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  • 2018
  • Children & Families
  • Outdoor (Free)
  • Poetry

Jabberwalking with Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera

Saturday, April 28


Can you walk and talk at the same time? How about Jabberwalk? Can you write and draw and walk and journal all at the same time? Festival favorite and marvelous speaker Juan Felipe Herrera, former Poet Laureate of the United States, will teach you everything he knows about being a real-life, bonafide, Jabberwalking poet! While his new book is technically for kids, anyone can learn to jabberwalk—parents, older siblings, and grandparents who have some pep in their step! Jabberwalkers write and speak for themselves and others no matter where their feet may take them—to Jabberwalk is to be a poet on the move. And there’s no stopping once you’re a Jabberwalker, writing fast, fast, fast, scribble-poem-burbles-on-the-run. It’s all out there—vámonos!

With support from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria


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  • 2018
  • History
  • Literary
  • Women/Gender

JCC East Bay Presents: Thriving Past Trauma—Holocaust Survivor Dr. Edith Eger with The Choice

Dr. Edith Eger interviewed by Elizabeth Rosner

Sunday, April 29


An absolute must-see: Dr. Edith Eger, 92-year-old Auschwitz survivor and trauma psychologist, comes to us to discuss one of the most compelling books we’ve read this year, “The Choice: Embrace the Possible,” which Desmond Tutu called “a gift to humanity.” She will be interviewed by Elizabeth Rosner, author of the award-winning “Survivor Cafe: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory.”

Sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay with the generous support of Eve Gordon-Ramek; in memory of Mayer Goldberg and Henry Ramek


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  • 2018
  • Current Affairs
  • Literary
  • Outdoor (Free)

Alice Waters and Jonathan Kauffman: A Revolution in Food

Alice Waters, Jonathan Kauffman, interviewed by Tom Philpott

Sunday, April 29


Eating is a political act. The purchase, preparation, and experience of food are choices that profoundly shape not only our individual lives but social justice and our entire ecosystem. Described as “the most important figure in the culinary history of North America,” chef and restaurateur Alice Waters has led the charge toward greater sustainability and pleasure—they go together—across the entire food system. Her new memoir, “Coming to my Senses” (her fifteenth book), recounts her life up to the opening of Chez Panisse. Come hear her latest calls to action. She’s joined by San Francisco Chronicle food writer Jonathan Kauffman, author of the new “Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat,” which tells the fascinating story of how the counterculture transformed what’s on your dinner plate tonight. They’re interviewed by Tom Philpott, food editor of Mother Jones magazine.

Sponsored by Mother Jones


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  • 2018
  • Current Affairs

The Common Good with Robert Reich (Saturday Night Keynote)

Robert Reich

Saturday, April 28


Don’t miss the Festival keynote! No one could serve better to inspire us than Berkeley’s own Robert Reich—a stellar writer of conscience and conviction, a firebrand, and one of America’s most influential and popular political commentators. A former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Reich comments regularly on CNN, NBC, and The Daily Show, and his syndicated articles have appeared in The New Yorker, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and San Francisco Chronicle. His new book, “The Common Good,” charges us all to address the urgent question: What has happened to civility and civic responsibility? What makes a good citizen in today’s America? Don’t miss Reich’s heartfelt call to a nation on the brink as he shows us how to do our part in saving America’s soul. Note: Priority tickets are $15. We expect this session to sell out so get your tickets now.


Watch the full episode


  • 2018
  • Current Affairs
  • Outdoor (Free)
  • Women/Gender

Smart Activism: History and Hope, with L.A. Kauffman and Rebecca Solnit

L.A. Kauffman, Rebecca Solnit

Sunday, April 29


How can activism be most effective today? Let’s look to history. Come hear one of the Bay Area’s most famous activists and writers—Rebecca Solnit—in conversation with longtime friend and movement insider L.A. Kauffman on the history and future of activism. Solnit, whose writing spans numerous books, articles, and social media, is perhaps most well-known for “Hope in the Dark,” a veritable holy book for activists, as well as her more recent books on feminism and three highly creative atlases, plus many works on community, the environment, and the arts. In “Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism”—a masterwork 25 years in the making—L.A. Kauffman expertly deconstructs the origins of today’s protest movements as a means of making activism more powerful today. How have past movements used disruptive tactics to catalyze change? Is there, indeed, still hope in the dark, and how do we act on it?

Sponsored by UC Berkeley Arts + Design


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  • 2018
  • Current Affairs
  • Outdoor (Free)
  • Women/Gender

Power Up: How Smart Women Win in the New Economy

Magdalena Yesil, interviewed by Laura D. Tyson

Sunday, April 29


Magdalena Yesil knows what it takes to get ahead. She arrived in this country as a near-penniless immigrant student. Not only did she become one of the founding board members of Salesforce, but she was among the first to note the commercial potential of the internet, founding the first Internet payment company, CyberCash. Now she’s a memoirist too, having penned “Power Up: How Smart Women Win in the New Economy,” weaving her own story with trenchant advice on persisting amidst setbacks, combatting gender discrimination, and generally being fearless in approaching challenges. Hear this smart, compassionate woman as she gives other smart women the tools they need to win.

Sponsored by Strong Legacy Planning


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  • 2018
  • Current Affairs
  • International
  • Literary

The Power of Literature to Create a Better World: Closing Keynote with Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer, John Freeman

Sunday, April 29


Literature is how we forge a common good globally—by awakening a sense of empathy and openness and by stressing the things that connect us instead of what divides us. Never has this been more essential than today as politicians speak of walls and bans and as we feel distances growing wider between neighbors. Drawing upon his 32 years as a full-time writer (including 12 books spanning travel literature, biography, memoir and novels) and his 44 years as a full-time traveler, Pico Iyer will close the festival with a keynote illuminating the power of literature to create a world beyond walls. After the keynote, Iyer will be interviewed by renowned literary critic John Freeman—editor of Freeman’s literary journal, former editor of the international journal Granta, and author of many books, including the new poetry collection “Maps.” Both authors will sign books after the conversation. Note: Priority Tickets are $12. We expect this session to sell out, so get your tickets now for this very special talk!


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  • 2017
  • Current Affairs
  • Outdoor (Free)

GIANTS! Chris Haft talks with John Shea about Stories from the San Francisco Giants Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box

Chris Haft, John Shea

Sunday, June 4


Hear two of baseball’s most seasoned writers on the Bay Area’s beloved Giants! The San Francisco Giants are one of baseball’s most storied franchises, including World Series wins in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Chris Haft is the S.F. Giants beat reporter for MLB.com and joins us to recount stories from more than 25 years reporting on Major League baseball and especially from his new book, If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the San Francisco Giants Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box. Haft is interviewed by John Shea, the San Francisco Chronicle’s national baseball writer and columnist, and author of three baseball books, including Rickey Henderson’s biography (Confessions of a Thief) and Magic by the Bay. (Open seating; no tickets needed!)


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Book signing information: Adjacent to Stage

  • 2017
  • Current Affairs
  • Outdoor (Free)

Showdown: Trump vs. the Deep State

Peter Dale Scott and Robert Scheer in conversation with David Talbot

Saturday, June 3


Some of the deepest thinkers about power in the U.S. engage in a provocative discussion about one of the greatest showdowns in recent history: President Trump vs. his vast national security complex. Who will win? Should progressives actually be rooting for secret government? Will democracy be the loser, no matter who triumphs in this mighty power struggle? Peter Dale Scott is the godfather of scholarly research into the dark, labyrinthine workings of American power, most recently author of ‘The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy.’ Robert Scheer is one of our country’s leading progressive journalists and the author of numerous books, recently ‘They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy.’ David Talbot, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, is the founder of Salon and author many books, most recently ‘The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government.’ (Open seating; no tickets needed!)

Sponsored by the Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation


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Book signing information: Adjacent to Stage

  • 2017
  • Current Affairs
  • History
  • Literary

Witness and Testimony: The Past and Present of Native America

William Bauer, Layli Long Soldier, T.J. Stiles, and Louis Warren, moderated by Greg Sarris

Saturday, June 3


Turtle Island’s First People, and its First Nations, have inspired writers, journalists, artists, musicians, and workers—Native American, Anglo, and other—in years past and today, up to and beyond Standing Rock activism. What stories and lessons from Native American history illuminate the present day for Native Americans, and why? Our panelists include a Native poet writing about voicelessness, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, an award-winning novelist and Native leader who discovered his roots as an adult, and a historian specialized in Native American studies. They discuss legacies, truths, and the potential future of our country’s First People’s place, stories, and movements.

With support from the Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation


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Book signing information: Freight & Salvage Lobby

  • 2017
  • Culture
  • International
  • Literary

Writing from Africa

Lesley Nneka Arimah, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, and Sarah Ladipo Manyika, moderated by Aaron Bady

Saturday, June 3


Where is Africa in world literature? After centuries of being confined to a cramped corner of the literary world—to being described by explorers, tourists, journalists, and activists—African writers discuss what it means to tell their own stories, in their own words and languages, and the journey their work takes to arrive in print, at home and abroad. Lesley Nneka Arimah’s ‘What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky’ is “completely captivating…whether you’re in Nigeria or Chicago” (Ebony); Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s ‘Kintu’ has been called “a masterpiece of cultural memory” (Publishers Weekly), and Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s ‘Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun’ is one of the “brilliant books that you really need to read” (Buzzfeed).

Sponsored by Transit Books


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Book signing information: David Brower Center Gallery

  • 2017
  • Culture
  • International
  • Literary

The Legacy of Juan Rulfo: A Celebration

Mauro Javier Cardenas, Enrique Chagoya, Cristina Rivera Garza, Guadalupe Nettel, and Aura Xilonen, moderated by Jane Ciabattari

Saturday, June 3


Gabriel Garcia Marquez compared him to Sophocles in terms of influence. Susan Sontag wrote that Juan Rulfo’s single novel, ‘Pedro Páramo,’ is “one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century world literature.” Jorge Luis Borges called the novel a work of genuis. And yet Juan Rulfo, mantled as the father of magic realism, is much less well known than the many writers who have looked to him for inspiration. What made Rulfo so extraordinary, and how has his influence reverberated throughout world literature? On the 100th anniversary of Rulfo’s birth in Jalisco, Mexico, this international panel of writers and artists, moderated by Jane Ciabattari, Vice President/Online of the National Book Critics Circle, introduces Rulfo to new readers and celebrates his legacy.

Sponsored by the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco and the State of Jalisco


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Book signing information: Barbara and Gerson Bakar Atrium, right outside the theater

  • 2017
  • Culture
  • Current Affairs
  • History

Activism at a Crossroads

Micah White and Becky Bond, moderated by Monika Bauerlein

Saturday, June 3


Activism is undergoing a re-evaluation. Is protest still effective? What can work today? Micah White (co-creator of Occupy Wall Street and author of ‘The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution’), named by Esquire as one of the most influential young thinkers alive today, and Becky Bond (former senior advisor to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and co-author of ‘Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything’) will offer guidance and action for a new era of social change and activism. If you’ve ever thought of joining a march or demonstration, White and Bond will make you smarter about it. Mother Jones’ Monika Bauerlein moderates.

With support from Mother Jones Magazine


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Book signing information: Freight & Salvage Lobby

  • 2017
  • Current Affairs
  • Environment/Nature

Paul Hawken’s Drawdown: Real Solutions for Climate Change

Paul Hawken with Mark Hertsgaard

Saturday, June 3


‘Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming’ shows a realistic path forward that can roll back global warming within thirty years. Activist and renowned entrepreneur Paul Hawken gathered researchers from around the world to identify, investigate, and model the 100 most substantive existing solutions to climate change. Come learn how humanity has the means at hand to address this potentially devastating threat to our civilization.


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Book signing information: Freight & Salvage Lobby

  • 2017
  • Culture
  • Current Affairs
  • Literary

Roxane Gay Takes the Stage

Roxane Gay in conversation with Rafia Zakaria

Saturday, June 3


What makes a person “difficult”? Fiction writer, essayist, and activist Roxane Gay has been called “the brilliant girl-next-door: your best friend and your sharpest critic” by People magazine. She has authored the stunning novel ‘An Untamed State,’ the powerhouse essay collection ‘Bad Feminist,’ and now a new collection of stories, ‘Difficult Women,’ where she casts her incisive gaze at issues of race, class and gender. Famed for both fearlessness and vulnerability on the page, she tackles issues that lie at the heart of body, identity, relationship and society. In conversation with Rafia Zakaria of The New Republic.

With support from The New Republic


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Book signing information: Freight & Salvage Lobby

  • 2017
  • International
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers

Nordic Noir: The World’s Best Thrillers?

Hans Olav Lahlum, Thomas Rydahl, Erik Axl Sund, and Vidar Sundstol, moderated by Mal Warwick

Saturday, June 3


Perhaps it’s those long, harsh winters or the literary tradition of violent sagas. Whatever the reason, Northern Europe has become a hot bed for bone-chilling thrillers. How do they do it? Does their own writing give them nightmares? Come hear Nordic masters Thomas Rydahl (Denmark), Hans Olav Lahlum (Norway), Vidar Sundstol (Norway) and Erik Axl Sund (a pseudonym for two writers from Sweden, both of whom join us today) as they illuminate what makes a thriller thrilling, and how these writers survive the experience.

Sponsored by the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, the Danish Arts Foundation, the Royal Danish Embassy, the Norway House Foundation, and NORLA – Norwegian Literature Abroad


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Book signing information: David Brower Center Gallery

  • 2017
  • Culture
  • Outdoor (Free)
  • Women/Gender

Lindy West Takes the Stage

Lindy West

Saturday, June 3


It’s not a pretty place, the Internet. Especially for an outspoken woman. Two years ago, Lindy West’s confrontation with a nasty troll showed the world how to fight back via technology. With her debut memoir, Shrill, Lindy tells that tale and more, sharing her truths about #ShoutYourAbortion!, being a large woman, being loud, being a feminist, and being funny. This event is for anyone interested in having their own opinions in the digital age. (Open seating; no tickets needed!)


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Book signing information: Adjacent to Stage

  • 2017
  • Culture
  • Current Affairs
  • History

Masha Gessen on Truth, Lies and Totalitarianism in Russia and the U.S.

Masha Gessen in conversation with Orville Schell

Saturday, June 3


The relationship between Russia and the West is, shall we say, complicated. Are we headed toward a new Cold War? Join Russian-American and celebrated journalist Masha Gessen (The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia) and Orville Schell (former professor and Dean at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and author of Wealth and Power) for insight into the state of protest, free speech, and human rights from powers that now pose the greatest challenges to the liberal democracies of the world.

With support from The Jewish Community Center of the East Bay


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Book signing information: Freight & Salvage Lobby

  • 2017
  • Current Affairs
  • International
  • Literary

Reveal Live: Reporting, Writing and Being Between the Lines

Vanessa Hua, Krys Lee, and Guadalupe Nettel, moderated by Al Letson

Sunday, June 4


Borders have become central to today’s political and cultural landscape. In this special edition of Reveal Live, host Al Letson will take the audience through a journey that crosses many borders—physical and figurative, national and cultural, fictive and factual. Joining us are three writers: Krys Lee from Korea, Guadalupe Nettel from Mexico, and Vanessa Hua from the Chinese immigrant community in San Francisco. Where nationalism and nativism takes root, how can writers and journalists help people find common ground? How do they immerse audiences in perspectives that can change the status quo?

With support from the Center for Investigative Reporting, Margaret and Will Hearst, Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTI Korea), the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco, and the State of Jalisco


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Book signing information: Freight & Salvage Lobby

  • 2017
  • Culture
  • Current Affairs
  • Literary

Radical Hope: Staying Sane, Awake, and Engaged in Dangerous Times

Jeff Chang, Aya de Leon, Parnaz Foroutan, Karen Joy Fowler, Katie Kitamura, Cherrie Moraga, Achy Obejas, Meredith Russo, and Kate Schatz, moderated by Carolina De Robertis

Saturday, June 3


This special Saturday night event brings together ten acclaimed authors to explore the concept of “radical hope,” a guiding principle of the Bay Area Book Festival this year and the title of a new anthology conceived by Oakland writer Carolina de Robertis shortly after the latest Presidential election. She asked award-winning novelists, poets, political thinkers, and activists to create letters—love letters—in response to our times and in the tradition of James Baldwin’s famous missive to his nephew published in The Fire Next Time. They are written to ancestors, to children five generations from now, to strangers in grocery lines, to any and all who feel weary and discouraged. Provocative and inspiring, ‘Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times’ will help you find courage, love, and hope, regardless of your political persuasion, in this time of uncertainty, fear, and polarization. Don’t miss this festival highlight! (Note, Priority Admission tickets are priced at $10. Though holders of General Admission Wristbands can access the event if seats are available at show time, we expect this event to sell out. So get your tickets now!)


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Book signing information: Freight & Salvage Lobby

  • 2017
  • Current Affairs
  • Literary
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy

When Reality Meets Science Fiction

Cory Doctorow, Meg Elison, Zachary Mason, moderated by Annalee Newitz

Sunday, June 4


Large-scale, far-in-the-future stories tend to get most the glory in the sci-fi canon. But what happens when reality already feels like science fiction? Like George Orwell’s 1984, near-future narratives exploit current technology, politics, and fears to explore what life could be like in ten years, one year, or even a hour. Our panelists consider how to predict the tantalizing possibility of what might be.


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Book signing information: David Brower Center Gallery

  • 2017
  • International
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers

Jussi Adler-Olsen: Denmark’s #1 Crime Writer

Jussi Adler-Olsen interviewed by Cara Black

Sunday, June 4


What does it take to be a bestselling crime writer? With more than 15 million copies of his books sold worldwide, Danish writer Jussi Adler-Olsen (creator of the Department Q novels, the latest of which is The Hanging Girl) will share insights on his career and the process of crafting international sensations. He’ll be in conversation with New York Times bestselling San Francisco detective novelist Cara Black, author of the Aimée Leduc series, including the forthcoming Murder in Saint-Germain.

Sponsored by the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, the Danish Arts Foundation, and the Royal Danish Embassy


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Book signing information: David Brower Center Gallery

  • 2017
  • International
  • Literary
  • Writing & Publishing

The Art of Investigation: Journalists Meet Crime Writers

Eric Axl Sund (Jerker Ericksson and Håkan Axlander Sundquist), in discussion with Michael Montgomery

Sunday, June 4


There is a curious connection between crime novels and investigative reporting. Both are called “stories” by their practitioners. Both present victims and an evildoer, whether that be a person or a system, and both work with suspicion, suspense, and a constant assessment of the reliability of sources of information. Michael Montgomery is a journalist who has reported on some of the most heinous real-life mysteries around the world. Erik Axl Sund is the pseudonym of two Swedish writers whose blockbuster The Crow Girl is “a jolting examination of a cycle of abuse and revenge” that “builds a powerful indictment of society’s willingness to turn a blind eye toward powerful, privileged abusers preying on the weak” (Booklist, starred review).

Sponsored by the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and Margaret and Will Hearst


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Book signing information: Barbara and Gerson Bakar Atrium, right outside the theater

  • 2017
  • Current Affairs
  • History
  • International

Kingdom of Olives and Ash

Michael Chabon, Fida Jiryis, Rachel Kushner, Yehuda Shaul, and Ayelet Waldman, moderated by Daniel Sokatch

Sunday, June 4


With the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank upon us, award-winning authors Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon invited an international roster of top-shelf writers to visit the Israeli-occupied territories on individual journeys of their own design. What followed were moving, heartbreaking, and infuriating stories from the people on the ground in the contested territories, stories that unearth the human cost of the conflict. Hear some of those writers in person. The book is a benefit for Breaking the Silence, an organization made of former Israeli soldiers.

With support from the New Israel Fund and Anne Germanacos


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Book signing information: Freight & Salvage Lobby

  • 2017
  • Culture
  • Current Affairs
  • Outdoor (Free)

Race and Resistance in the Trump Era: Fighting Words and Wisdom from The Nation and Black Lives Matter

Alicia Garza, Walter Mosley, Joan Walsh, Steve Phillips, moderated by Mark Hertsgaard

Sunday, June 4


The Nation has been fighting for racial justice since abolitionists founded the magazine in 1865; its writers have included W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr., James Baldwin, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. Now join some of The Nation’s finest current contributors for a fierce, free-ranging discussion of how to advance racial justice in today’s America. Panelists include Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter; Walter Mosley, the essayist and novelist; Steve Phillips, author of Brown Is the New White; Joan Walsh, The Nation’s national political correspondent; and moderator Mark Hertsgaard, author and investigative editor for The Nation. (Open seating; no tickets needed!)

Sponsored by The Nation Magazine


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Book signing information: Adjacent to Stage

  • 2017
  • Literary
  • Outdoor (Free)
  • Travel

Beyond Travel Writing: Journey and Meaning

Geoff Dyer, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, Tom Lutz, moderated by Leah Garchik

Sunday, June 4


Places are ideas as much as they are geographic realities. Places carry stories and significance beyond the physical, and that’s often why we travel there. How are places marked by what happened there? What is the lure of the “elsewhere”? How is it all changed upon being discovered, photographed, written about? Finally: Was it really a bad trip if you live to tell a great tale? Join these three stellar travel writers, who have covered the world with pen and heel, on an intellectually rollicking journey navigated by San Francisco Chronicle weekday columnist Leah Garchik. (Open seating; no tickets needed!)

Sponsored by the Los Angeles Review of Books


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Book signing information: Adjacent to Stage

  • 2017
  • Current Affairs
  • Literary
  • Mystery, Crime & Thrillers

Master of the Legal Thriller: A Conversation with Scott Turow

Scott Turow, interviewed by T.J. Stiles

Sunday, June 4


The Bay Area Book Festival is delighted to present this capstone session featuring Scott Turow, interviewed by two-time Pulitzer Prize winning historian T.J. Stiles. The author of Presumed Innocent and ten other widely praised works, Turow has sold more than 30 million copies of his books worldwide. He will discuss his new novel, Testimony, set at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and his long career as a prosecutor and advocate. That includes working on behalf of authors themselves. He will describe his many years as president of the Authors Guild, the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for writers, which advocates on issues of copyright, contracts, free speech and more. He and Stiles will share with audiences some of the pressing issues facing writers and the literary industry today.

With support from the Authors Guild


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Book signing information: Freight & Salvage Lobby

  • 2017
  • Culture
  • Current Affairs
  • Outdoor (Free)

On Power

Dacher Keltner interviewed by Deirdre English

Sunday, June 4


Power: We all want it, but how do we get it? Many have assumed that acquiring power involves force and manipulation. But psychologist Dacher Keltner turns those notions on their heads in The Power Paradox, arguing that empathy and humility are far more influential. Power is not something we create; it is something we earn. Keltner will lay out how to gain and retain power, when we may abuse it, and what the consequences are of letting those around us languish in powerlessness. Open seating; no tickets needed.


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Book signing information: Adjacent to Stage

  • 2017
  • Literary
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy

Tor Books presents Science Fiction and the Resistance!

Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi, Annalee Newitz, and Charlie Jane Anders

Sunday, June 4


Join Charlie Jane Anders, Cory Doctorow, Annalee Newitz and John Scalzi as they kick ass, take names and decide who goes down first, and hardest, in an epic discussion about new directions in science fiction and fantasy.


Watch the full episode


Book signing information: Freight & Salvage Lobby

  • 2017
  • Current Affairs
  • Environment/Nature
  • Spirituality

Putting Your Money Where Your Heart Is

Andrew Behar, Clair Brown, moderated by Kate Campbell

Sunday, June 4


Most of us have some type of savings or retirement plan, but generally that’s where our knowledge ends. We don’t know how that money is invested, or whether it is helping or hindering big social and environmental problems such as income disparity, poor labor conditions, corruption, or climate change. How can we ensure that our hard-earned bucks are going toward causes we care about? How can we think through our relationship with money in terms of our values? Andrew Behar (head of the nonprofit As You Sow and author of The Shareholders Action Guide) and UC Berkeley professor and Buddhist Clair Brown (Buddhist Economics) will shed light on these complex issues in a conversation moderated by socially responsible investment advisor Kate Campbell, North Berkeley Investment Partners.


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Book signing information: David Brower Center Gallery

North Berkeley Investment Partners