Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5: The Second Annual Bay Area Book Festival, Berkeley
This year's Bay Area Book Festival should be epic. The list of authors making appearances is a veritable who's who in contemporary U.S. literature today: William Finnegan, Yaa Gyasi, Juan Felipe Herrera, Jensen Beach, Adam Johnson, Dana Spiotta, Sunil Yapa - and that's only the start. (Check out the full weekend lineup here.) Along with the standard thought-provoking panels and presentations and dozens of diverse exhibitors, the festival includes family-friendly activities, art installations, and a film festival. Book people, BABF is our literary version of Coachella, only with less drugs and '90s throwback fashion. You don't want to miss this. Plus, it's mostly free! Details here.
Tuesday, June 7: Yaa Gyasi book launch at Green Apple Books on the Park, SF
Yaa Gyasi, the 26-year-old Berkeley-based author of Homegoing, has been getting mad props from literary stars and national publications on the release of her first novel. National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates live-tweeted his three-day process of reading the novel from start to finish: "I'm not the most well-read person in the world but this is the book I'd give my kid if he asked about the trans-atlantic slave trade," he wrote.
Homegoing tells the story of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, who are born into different villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia is married off to a British slave trader, and goes to live and raise children in the velvet confines of the Cape Coast Castle. Esi has a different fate. Captured by slave traders, she's imprisoned in the woman's dungeon below Effia's palatial quarters, and then shipped on a boat to America to be sold into slavery. And the story doesn't stop there. Gyasi has written an ambitious, multi-generational tale about how our ancestral inheritances remain an influence on the present day, no matter how many centuries have gone by. Gyasi is absolutely a writer to watch out for. Details here.
Tuesday, June 7: J. Ryan Stradal at the Wine Steward, Pleasanton.
J. Ryan Stradal's debut novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest comes out in paperback this month, and he'll be celebrating with a couple of Bay Area appearances. Quirky, food-obsessed, and smartly plotted, the novel focuses on the life of Eva Thorvald, a native Minnesotan with a serious food obsession. Stradal, fiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown, structures the book in a clever manner by establishing key ingredients -- hydroponic habaneros, Scandinavian Lutefish -- as the centerpiece to each chapter, all the while illuminating the formative moments in Eva's spirited, semi-tragic life. It culminates with her magnum opus meal as the chef at a legendary pop-up supper club. This event is sponsored by Towne Center Books. Details here.
Friday, June 10: Emma Straub at Copperfield's Books, Petaluma
You might be tempted to hate novelist Emma Straub for her adorably cute and charmed life in Brooklyn. Exhibit A: Straub will be wearing a jumpsuit that matches the book cover of her latest novel Modern Lovers on her book tour. Exhibit B: the breezy way she spends her Sundays with her adorable little family, all pizza, pancakes, and bookstores with nary a chore to be done. But here's the thing -- Straub has the writing chops to back up the hype. I first came across her work with the excellent short-story collection Other People We Married. Her second novel, The Vacationers, earned great reviews and netted a spot on the New York Times' bestseller list. Modern Lovers, released this month, follows aging indie rockers, sexual intrigue, and insight into real life as a privileged adult in gentrified Brooklyn. Details here.