Wednesday, Oct. 19: Luis Valdez at Hammer Theatre, San Jose State University
Luis Valdez is a legend in the Chicano literary world (and beyond). His 1979 play Zoot Suit was the first Chicano work to debut on Broadway. The play is based on the Sleepy Lagoon murder trial, in which a Mexican-American man is accused of a crime that he (possibly) didn't commit, and which infamously led to the Zoot Suit Riots in 1940's Los Angeles. Valdez also founded El Teatro Campesino in 1965 as a way to dramatize and give attention to the plight of farmworkers in California. And, he directed one of my all time favorite movies from childhood, La Bamba, starring Lou Diamond Phillips as Richie Valens, and featuring a great soundtrack by Los Lobos. Valdez will be delivering the James D. Houston Memorial Lecture on Oct. 19 followed by a fundraiser and reception. Details here
Tuesday, Oct.18: Margot Livesey at Mrs. Dalloway's, Berkeley
I remember reading a couple of short stories by Margot Livesey and becoming immediately enthralled with her way with language. Originally from Scotland, Livesey as written seven novels since the 1986 publication of her short story collection Learning By Heart. Her eighth novel, Mercury, was published in September. Mercury tells the story of love, marriage, guns, and horses, not in that particular order. The New Yorker calls it "consuming."
Livesey also appears at Book Passage in Corte Madera on Oct. 19.
Thursday, Oct. 20: Brontez Purnell and Laura Zink at E.M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore, Oakland
Brontez Purnell has already made a name for himself as a dynamic front-person/guitarist for the band The Younger Lovers, and as a dancer, and a filmmaker. But he's also a fiction writer, and in that role, he'll be reading at Pedestrian Prose, a brand-new Bay Area reading series. "Looking around the East Bay literary scene we've noticed a vacuum for short stories and creative non-fiction," write the organizers on the literary series' Facebook page. "Pedestrian Prose is our attempt to fill it, with two featured authors reading one complete short story, novel chapter or essay." The inaugural reading features Purnell and Laura Zink, an editor for Oakland Review and the Curator Liaison for Oakland’s free literary festival, Beast Crawl.
Friday, Oct. 21: 'House A' launch party at Alley Cat Books, SF
You might know Claudia Rankine as the author of the brilliant Citizen. You might also know her as the winner of a 2016 MacArthur Genius Grant. For poet Jennifer Cheng, Claudia Rankine will forever be known as the person who judged her winner of the Omnidawn Poetry Book Prize for a poetry collection called House A.
Here's what Rankine said about the book:
Jennifer S. Cheng’s House A is an exquisite exploration of the ability of diasporic longing to live within a continuous and full life. These tender epistolary prose poems embody the constant sense of dislocation for the immigrant, while redefining affiliation nonetheless. The poems addressed to “Dear Mao” in the first section weave, correct, and redirect. They chronicle in the alphabetically-organized second section, and instruct on “How to Build an American Home” in the third section, in order to make apparent the illusive tone and mood of an upbringing—its porousness relative to history, myth, and location. Not since Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family and Calvino’s Invisible Cities have I encountered such attention to the construction of love and love’s capacity to transform unimagined locations.
Bet you want to read it now. I know I do.