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Reading Roundup: This Week's Top Literary Events

Shehan Karunatilaka (The Legend of Pradeep Mathew)

Tuesday, June 26, 6 pm, at Book Passage SF (1 Ferry Building)

Karunatilaka's first novel recently walked away with the Commonwealth Book Prize, and for good reason: it's a strange, fiercely funny tale from his native Sri Lanka, a part of the world most Americans don't hear much about. When aging sportswriter (and professional drunk) W.G. Karunasena discovers that his liver is about to fail him, he sets out on a search for a vanished, legendary 1980s cricket player. The result is a madcap, humorous detective story with a thoroughly unreliable narrator. 

Lizz Winstead (Lizz Free or Die)

Monday, June 25, 7 pm, at Books Inc. Opera Plaza (601 Van Ness Ave.)

Winstead (above), who co-created and was the head writer for The Daily Show, didn't always have her comedic sensibilities encouraged-- especially by her conservative Catholic parents. Her new collection of essays is a look into how she grew into her personality, from giving up her childhood dream of becoming a priest to getting The Daily Show on the air (and later founding Air America, where she gave Rachel Maddow her first big break). 

Colin Dickey (Afterlives of the Saints: Stories from the Ends of Faith)

Thursday, June 21, 7 pm, at St. James Episcopal Church (4620 California St.)

Saturday, June 23, 1 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Dickey's new collection of essays focuses on some of the stranger saints in the Catholic canon, and the reverberations their lives might have for modern readers. The saints he discusses include murderers, masochists, and other unusual individuals, and their stories are interwoven with thoughts on the history of spontaneous human combustion, Renaissance anatomy, the Sistine Chapel, and more. The result is an examination of how religious practices can transform over time into what society views as pathologies.

Sapphire (The Kid)

Saturday, June 25, 7 pm, at Books Inc. Alameda (1344 Park St.)

The author of Push (who was famously namechecked in the title when it was adapted into the film Precious) returns with the story of Precious' son, Abdul, who loses his mother at the age of nine and has to navigate the complicated social-services system on his own. As he suffers abuse in a Catholic orphanage and attempts to seek solace in dance, Abdul is haunted by the specter of his past-- and eventually begins to perpetuate the cycle of abuse.