Prepare now for Litquake 2020
By Lou Fancher
Literature lovers in the East Bay will want to keep an especially keen eye on Litquake 2020. Due to the coronavirus, the popular festival that for the past 20 years has celebrated authors and books at locations in San Francisco is now jumping to a digital format. That leap makes the 150-author, 60-event shindig more accessible than ever — and arrives minus the traffic jams.
Authors, poets, activists, and performers roll out their intellect and latest offerings almost exclusively online for the 21st Litquake’s expanded 16-day stretch from Oct. 8-24. The centerpiece feature, Lit Crawl, is produced in cooperation with, and will include broadcasts from, Lit Crawl’s sister cities, including Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Angers, France among others. Most events are free. The main festival (apart from the all-day Lit Crawl) will stream 1-2 events daily at 5 and 7 p.m. PST.
Notable artists appearing solo or in conversations with other artists include Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians and Sex and Vanity) in conversation with Amy Tan; Pamela Sneed (Funeral Diva); 2020 Pulitzer Prize recipient, poet Jericho Brown; Molly Brown, political correspondent for Time and author of Pelosi; former U.S. Poet Laureates Juan Felipe Herrera and Natasha Trethewey; Tom Perrotta (Election and The Leftovers); Oakland’s Tommy Orange (There There), and more.
Co- founder Jack Boulware says in a press release, “There’s no question that the connection to literature and authors in a live setting is a singular experience, and that will always be at Litquake’s core, but given the success of what we’ve been doing over the last 4 months with Litquake on Lockdown, we see a virtual component as being part of what we do from now on.”
As always, Litquake is not exclusively for adults. Kidquake with co-presenter San Francisco Public Library have potential to reach more K-5 students than ever before. Young readers can hear writers talk about poetry, creative and nonfiction writing, and important movements and moments in American and World history. Online demos lead children in hands-on bookmaking and illustration activities.
New this year is Litquake Out Loud, a debut program highlighting the Bay Area’s BIPOC & LGBTQ+ writers and thinkers. The initiative is designed to counter expensive or culturally exclusive literary events that frequently prevent low-income, marginalized audiences from representation and/or participation. The five guest curators for 2020 are Josiah Luis Alderete, Gabriel Cortez, Rachel Khong, Aya de Leon, and Baruch Porras-Hernandez.
The best way to customize a viewing list is a visit to Litquake’s website. A sample of titles from the schedule demonstrates the diverse entertainment and deep explorations available: “Every Day We Become More Illegal;” “Post-Pandemic Publishing;” “The Rise of Nancy Pelosi;” “Debut Authors: Making a Splash During the Apocalypse;” “Noir at the (Virtual) Bar;” and many more. Be sure to save Zoom energy for the final day, when Lit Crawl Global from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. precedes Lit Crawl’s 12-hour local, live broadcast (4:30-10:30 p.m.).