Tonight at Litquake: Wednesday, October 14


Tonight centers around one special author: Amy Tan will be receiving Litquake's Barbary Coast Award for her contribution to the Bay Area literary community. You may know Tan as the author of Asian-American identity stories like The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife, but there are a few things you might not know about her: she's written an opera libretto (for the adaptation of The Bonesetter's Daughter, performed in SF last year), once had a PBS children's series (based on her Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat), and has a master's in linguistics (from San Jose State). She's also the lead singer/dominatrix of the Rock Bottom Remainders, an all-author band that includes Stephen King, Dave Barry, and Matt Groening. We're not kidding about the dominatrix part-- she wears leather. Hopefully, we'll learn a few more interesting facts about Tan tonight at her tribute/roast (some are calling it a "stir-fry"), featuring guests like KQED's Michael Krasny and Byrds founder Roger McGuinn. (8 pm at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave. Tickets are $25 for the show only or $75 for show and VIP reception.)

While Tan writes about the trials and tribulations of Asian immigrants to San Francisco, Fred Rosenbaum has focused on another immigrant group: the Jews. His new Cosmopolitans explores the entertainment and cultural legacy of Jewish life in the Fillmore, which was the center of both Jewish immigration and citywide entertainment between the two World Wars. (7 pm at Fillmore Jazz Heritage Center, 1330 Fillmore St. Admission is free.)

Another important figure in the period between the wars was Dorothea Lange, the photographer who captured indelible images of the Dust Bowl's hardships in the midst of the Great Depression. Lange also fought the U.S. government to capture images of Japanese-American internment camps during World War II, many of which were published in Linda Gordon's previous book, Impounded. Gordon has returned with a larger biography of Lange, her work, and the impact of photography on the New Deal and Great Depression. (7:30 pm at Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. Admission is free.)

Kathleen Kent is a tenth-generation descendent of Martha Carrier, one of the first women to be accused of heresy in the Salem witch trials. Her book The Heretic's Daughter fictionalizes the events of the trials, showing the struggle of Carrier and her headstrong daughter Sarah against the paranoia and persecution of Salem's citizens. (7 pm at Books Inc. Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness Ave. Admission is free.)

Finally, Chef John Besh makes an appearance at Omnivore to promote his new cookbook, My New Orleans. The restauranteur owns four eating establishments in the city, and was recently a contestant on Top Chef Masters. His book deals with traditional New Orleans recipes and the impact of Hurricane Katrina. (6 pm at Omnivore Books, 3885A Cesar Chavez St. Admission is free.)

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