Litquake Is Here: Our Picks for the Best Events


This week, thousands of bookworms will be crawling out of their holes and preparing for Litquake, SF's annual celebration of all things literary. Founded as a one-day festival in 1999, Litquake has expanded to eight days of readings, parties, and events, capped by the Mission's infamous Lit Crawl on Saturday, October 15th. As always, the full lineup yields plenty of treasures, but we've narrowed the schedule down to six particularly memorable events.

Jeffrey Eugenides

Friday, October 14, 7 pm, at Books Inc. Opera Plaza (601 Van Ness Ave.)

Eugenides (The Virgin Suicides) hasn't published a book since 2002's Middlesex, and given the wave of critical and commercial success that met that Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, anticipation for his newest book is high. The Marriage Plot is the story of a college student caught in a love triangle between two fellow classmates, as well as in the transition between graduation and adulthood. It's earned nothing but raves so far, and Eugenides has a lot of fans, so be sure to get to this one early to secure a seat.

10 Years Later: A Granta Conversation

Tuesday, October 11, 6 pm, at The Book Club of California (312 Sutter St., Suite 500).

Granta, the popular literary journal, has just released its 116th issue, discussing the impact September 11th has had on Americans and foreigners alike. Panelists include novelist Adam Johnson, Infinite City author Rebecca Solnit, ZYZZYVA editor and McSweeney's alum Oscar Villalon, and the editor of Granta, Adam Johnson. Their discussion will center around violence, the desert, homecoming, and war.

New Writers Toolkit Seminars

Monday, October 10, 3-6:30 pm, at the Foundation Center (312 Sutter St., second-floor conference room).

Many of Litquake's most devoted supporters are aspiring scribes themselves, and the festival offers a number of events to support their dreams, including an edition of the long-running Pitchapalooza. For in-depth discussion, though, this two-part panel takes the prize: in "First-Time Authors Reveal All," four newly-minted novelists will discuss their paths to publishing glory, while in "Want That Book Published?" industry professionals will discuss changing trends in the world of publishing, and how writers can take advantage. Admission to this event is free, but spots are limited; register here.

The Fighter and the Writer

Thursday, October 12, 7:30 pm, at Z Space (450 Florida St.)

One of the nation's most prominent African-American authors, Ishmael Reed is known for his ten novels, including Mumbo Jumbo and The Last Days of Louisiana Red. Reed is also a poet, dramatist, editor, and advocate, so it's no surprise that this event will honor him with Litquake's annual Barbary Coast Award. The event, emceed by comedian W. Kamau Bell, will include a performance of a scene from Reed's play Body Parts and a musical tribute by Broun Fellinis (Reed is also a jazz pianist and lyricist). Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, and are available here.

Karen Russell in Conversation with Carolyn Cooke

Tuesday, October 11, 5:30 pm, at Z Space (450 Florida St.)

Russell has published only two books (the short-story collection St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and the novel Swamplandia!), but she's already received enough praise for a lifetime, including appearances on the New Yorker's 20 Under 40 list and Granta's list of the best young American novelists. Local interviewer Carolyn Cooke (Daughters of the Revolution) is an acclaimed author in her own right, and this pair should make for interesting discussion. Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door, and are available here.

Lit Crawl

Saturday, October 15, 6-9:30 pm, various locations in the Mission

If you can only attend one Litquake event, this is the one to hit. For a brief moment on Saturday night, seemingly every bar, bookshop, coffee house, gallery, and non-profit space in the Mission will fill with authors telling tales and eager listeners ready to hear them. The crawl is divided into three phases, with different events in each phase, so whether you want to check out the latest from local lit mags like Instant City and The Rumpus, attend events geared toward LGBTQ and Latino authors, or indulge in a favorite genre like food writing or sci-fi, there's a session for you.

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