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Reading Roundup: This Week's Top Literary Events

Each week, we offer a roundup of the best literary events in the city. All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. Want to submit an upcoming event for consideration? Go here.

Maxine Hong Kingston (I Love a Broad Margin to My Life)

Tuesday, February 21, 6:30 pm, at SOMArts Cultural Center (934 Brannan St.)

Kingston (left), a National Book Award winner, brings a high profile to SOMArts' monthly Feast of Words series, which combines a literary reading with a potluck dinner. The theme this month is "At War," and Kingston will read a section on war and peace from her new memoir alongside artist Yasmin Golan, who explores the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through food. After the presentation, Kingston will lead a writing exercise for the group. Tickets are $10 in advance ($5 for potluck dish contributors) or $12 at the door.

Katherine Boo (Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity)

Friday, February 17, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

If Slumdog Millionaire piqued your interest in the heartbreaking inequalities of the Mumbai slums, you'll want to check out the latest from Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur "genius" grant winner Boo, who spent three years reporting on the ground in India. This riveting tale spotlights an emotionally scarred woman trying to get her brilliant daughter through college, a young scrap-metal thief, and a teenager who makes his living combing through others' garbage. Despite the desperation of their lives, the residents of the Annawadi slum teem with hope, until their simmering cultural and religious tensions turn dangerous.

Writers with Attitude: A Festival of Short Play Readings

Saturday, February 18, 7:30 pm and Sunday, February 19, 5 pm, at 142 Throckmorton Theatre (142 Throckmorton St., Mill Valley).

The eighth annual presentation of this play festival will feature new works by 142 Throckmorton's Playwrights' Lab, a group of 12 scribes that includes Lynne Kaufman, Mercilee Jenkins, Stanley Rutherford, and Dyke Garrison, among others. The plays' topics are diverse, ranging from a jewel theft to a woman battling cancer; they'll perform the same lineup on both nights, so don't worry about missing a particular gem. After the performances, the playwrights will gather onstage for wine and conversation with the audience. Tickets are a $15-20 sliding scale, and can be purchased here.

Lisa See (Shanghai Girls)

Thursday, February 16, 5-6 pm, at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, California Room (999 California St.)

The 2012 San Francisco Writers' Conference is this weekend, and while the conference itself is sold out, the general public is invited to attend two special events. The first is a reading and discussion with See, who's also giving the conference's keynote speech on Friday. The second event is a mass signing with all of the event's presenters in the Hopkins' Cafe Ferlinghetti room, to be held on Saturday the 18th from 6:15-7 pm.