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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.

George Packer (The Unwinding)

Monday, June 3, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Tuesday, June 4, 6 pm, at the Commonwealth Club (595 Market St.)

Packer (The Assassins' Gate) tackles nothing less than the past 30 years of American life in his highly acclaimed new book, which follows Americans both famous (Peter Thiel, Jay-Z) and not-so-famous (a Rust Belt factory worker, a Southern entrepreneur) as they navigate the increasingly collapsed institutions of modern society and struggle to survive in an era of political gridlock, economic collapse, and unprecedented inequality. It's a searing portrait of a nation that's falling apart at the seams. His Book Passage appearance is free; tickets to his Commonwealth Club appearance are $20

Emma Brockes (She Left Me the Gun)

Thursday, May 30, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Brockes knew little to nothing about her mother, Paula, other than that she had grown up in South Africa and emigrated to London as a teen. When Paula died, Brockes became curious about her past, and quickly learned it was a horrifying one: she had taken her abusive stepfather to court, been betrayed by her own mother, and eventually attempted to kill her stepfather herself, buying a one-way ticket to the UK after she shot him. Brockes' memoir of her discoveries, which has earned reams of praise, also examines how her mother reinvented herself, why we try to hide our pasts, and why many of them may be better off left hidden. 

Ryan McIlvain (Elders)

Friday, May 31, 6 pm, at Book Passage SF (1 Ferry Building)

McIlvain, who grew up Mormon and renounced the church in his twenties, delivers a sensitive and moving portrait of two young Mormon missionaries attempting to win souls in Brazil. One is a brash, outspoken American, the other a devout Brazilian trying to overcome his mother's untimely death. When they're offered a chance to convert a beautiful woman and her husband, the event tests them in ways they could never have imagined. 

Bee Ridgway (The River of No Return)

Thursday, May 30, 7 pm, at Books Inc. Palo Alto (74 Town and Country Village)

Friday, May 31, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Ridgway's lively, imaginative debut is the story of Nick Falcott, a soldier of the Napoleonic era who, shortly before he is set to die on a battlefield, is transported through time to modern-day London by a shadowy organization called The Guild. Though he's given every advantage in his new life there, he is told he can never return, and desperately misses Julia, the girl he left behind. Then he's offered the chance to go back to 1815 to fight one of the Guild's enemies and recover a talisman, and earns a second chance with Julia. Both of them, however, must overcome enormous dangers in order to survive. 

826 Valencia Fundraising Luncheon

Wednesday, May 29, 12 pm, at the St. Regis (125 3rd St.)

A bonus event this week, for those with deep pockets: the annual fundraising luncheon for the famed Mission writing and tutoring charity is tomorrow, and Francis Ford Coppola and Thao Nguyen (of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down) will headline the affair. Tickets are $200 for general admission and $1,000 for VIP access, which includes a reception with the hosts.