It is Litquake season once again. Nine days of parties, readings, conversations and book signings. Oh, did I mention parties? From its humble and somewhat improvisational beginnings in a 1999 conversation at a bar -- Edinburgh Castle (the Bay Area writers' version of the Silicon Valley garage) to the nationally renowned festival it is today, Litquake has become the prime event to see and experience writing at its best. The festival has always represented the diverse cultures and histories of the Bay Area writing community, but this year features many events specifically showcasing women writers reading their work and in conversation with other women writers.
A few highlights follow:
Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women's Prisons
October 9, 2:30pm
San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., San Francisco
Free with museum admission.
Co-presented by the Contemporary Jewish Museum's StoryCorps StoryBooth, Inside This Place, Not of It features bestselling author Ayelet Waldman and Justice Now's Human Rights director Robin Levi. They will read from and discuss their book, Women Inside: Narratives from America's Incarcerated Women. This is the newest book from McSweeney's Voice of Witness, a nonprofit oral history book series. (Sidebar: While not a women-centric event, the festival presents another reading featuring the work of incarcerated writers that might be worth a visit. Writing in California Prisons, October 8, noon at Variety Preview Room in San Francisco. For more information visit litquake.org.)
Jane Smiley in Conversation with Karen Joy Fowler
October 9, 7pm
Variety Preview Room, 582 Market St., San Francisco
Hear two powerhouse novelists in conversation; the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley and Karen Joy Fowler(The Jane Austen Book Club) will talk about the responsibility to be accurate in historical fiction and the accuracy required for fictional worlds.
RADAR at The Luggage Store
October 12, 7pm
The Luggage Store, 1007 Market St., San Francisco
Michelle Tea's RADAR Reading Series is a monthly event with a dedicated following, but this month's meeting at the Luggage Store Gallery is sure to be a do-not-miss event. According to the website, viewers are in "for an evening of apocalyptic treats, romantic advice and literature." The writers include: Yasmin Golan, Myriam Gurba, Genny Lim, Shannon O'Malley, K.M. Soehnlein, Masha Tupitsyn and Laurie Weeks.
Murders, Mayhem and Moxie: Litquake's Women's Night 2011
October 14, 5:30pm
Bubble Lounge Champagne Bar, 714 Montgomery St., San Francisco
$5-$10 suggested donation; 21 and over
Every year, Jane Ganahl, one of Litquake's co-founders, hosts a women's night to celebrate women writers as well as women readers. Over email, I asked her if these women-centric events were a part of the original mission of Litquake and why they are still important today. She responded, "We all know that publishing is a very male-heavy industry. When we started Litquake 12 years ago, we just invited the authors to read that we knew [and] quickly realized that A) most of them were male, and B) male authors tended to get the lion's share of attention and invitations. So we promised ourselves back then that even if women authors sometimes get short shrift from the media at times, Litquake would make sure they were equally represented." And thus Women's Night was born.
Past year's Women's Night events have featured books with strong women heroines, among other topics, but this year's Women's Night is an amalgam of mysteries, crime dramas, and even some mayhem-laced comedies. Hosted by Jane Ganahl, who chose the topic after noticing this year brought a lot of great mysteries and dark novels from women. Writers include: Cara Black, Meg Waite Clayton, Jodi Compton, Zoe Ferraris, Heather Haven, Beth McMullen, Brandi Lynn Ryder and Jacqueline Winspear. Come early; these nights fill up fast. Be in the mood for comfortable couches, a champagne bar, esoteric discussions on how to create a fictional woman in real life. Women's Night is aiming to be a girls' night out, but with literature.
Numina Femenina: The Voice of the Feminine in Mexican Literature
October 14, 6pm
Tres, 130 Townsend St., San Francisco
Co-presented by the Center for the Art of Translation and the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco, this event features Carmen Boullosa and Pura López Colomé, both known for their groundbreaking literature and their ability to spotlight the power of the feminine voice. Most of the readings for this event will be in Spanish, although translations will be made available.
Some Girls from the Block
October 15, 7:15pm
Bruno's, 2389 Mission St., San Francisco
Free; 21 and over
Not one to be left behind during an event supporting fantastic writing, KQED's The Writers' Block will present Some Girls from the Block as part of Litquake's 2011 Litcrawl. The most popular women from this weekly reading series will be reading some of their greatest hits. The writers, poets, novelists and all around incredible women include: Lisa Brown, Donna de la Perriere, Anissa Gross, Amy Reed and Laura Schadler.
With hundreds of events to choose from, it really will be tough to choose poorly when making Litquake plans. From the most established to the never heard of, this is your chance to celebrate reading, writing, listening and of course, drinking. Happy Litquaking.
Litquake runs from October 7-15, 2011 at various San Francisco locations. For more information visit litquake.org.