Local Lit | August’s top tips for book lovers
By Lou Fancher
Isabel Allende and Michael Krasny | KQED Live | Aug. 9
It’s nearly impossible to imagine a more ideal pairing than when KQED presents award-winning author Isabel Allende in conversation with KQED host Michael Krasny. Allende is a literary icon and often recognized as “the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author.” Krasny is a literary heavyweight and especially agile as a broadcast host when it comes to springing an author he is interviewing into vibrant, never-heard-it-before territory. Among Allende’s 26 best-selling books are The House of Spirits, Daughter of Fortune, Island Beneath the Sea, and her recent novel, Violeta. Allende never fails to make her mark in print and in person as a powerful, international voice addressing human rights, feminism, politics, and dictatorship in her native Chile and in the US, and speaking with grace and eloquence about the craft of writing. Tickets for the in-person event sold out immediately, but livestream tickets remain available.
Memoirist Emi Nietfeld with author Mary Volmer | Lafayette Library and Learning Center | Aug. 10
Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation in partnership with Orinda Books presents a Distinguished Speakers Series ticketed event with memoirist Emi Nietfeld in conversation with author Mary Volmer. After graduating from Harvard in 2015, Nietfeld chased the American Dream while working as a software engineer at Google and Facebook. Along the way, she penned essays that appeared in The New York Times, Vice, Longreads and other outlets.
Now, in her new memoir, Acceptance, she chronicles her life story that includes family dysfunction, mental health struggles, foster care, homelessness, the tumult and turmoil of the country’s cut-throat college admissions process, harrowing experiences at Google, and living life on one’s own terms. While homeless and living in her Toyota Corolla as a teenager, Nietfeld wrote college app essays, attempting at great sacrifice to prove she was worthy of acceptance to an Ivy League school. In an in-person discussion with Volmer (author of two novels, a teacher at St. Mary’s College, and the Founder of Alta Mesa Center for the Arts in Orinda), Nietfeld will describe her experiences in first-person detail.
Everett Harper: Move to the Edge, Declare it Center, | Oakland Public Library Main Library | Aug. 11
Oakland-based Everett Harper is the CEO and Co-Founder of Truss, a “human-centered” software development company. In discussion about his first book, Move to the Edge, Declare it Center, he offers the leadership framework that had his company named as one of Inc’s 5000 fastest-growing private companies in 2020 and 2021. Harper’s parents had careers as software programmers for IBM, but he is the first in his family to attend college and was an A.B. Duke Scholar at Duke University. While majoring in biomedical and electrical engineering, he won an NCAA National Championship in soccer and was inducted into the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame in 2019. Harper graduated with an MBA and a M.Ed in Learning, Design and Technology from Stanford University.
As a company founder, he lays claim to his position as a Black entrepreneur with Silicon Valley pedigree and a proven track record for solving complex problems with social impact in uncertain times. While establishing his remote-first company and long before it was “a thing,” he championed salary transparency, the importance of hybrid work, and business practices involving diversity, equity, and inclusion. Active on the speaking circuit, Harper has been featured at conferences such as Dent, Tugboat, and TechStars. He speaks on podcasts for the Commonwealth Club and AfroTech and contributes essays that have appeared in Forbes, Thrive Global, and TechCrunch. Books will be available for purchase and signature at the event.
Sarah Thankam Mathews with Mira Jacob | Book Passage | Aug. 18
Author Sarah Thankam Mathews’ debut novel, All This Could Be Different, follows Sneha, a young immigrant finding her way in America and striving to establish a home and identity in 21st-century culture. Set mostly in Milwaukee, Sneha works in an entry-level corporate job and maintains a connection to her native land by sending part of her salary to her parents in India. While exploring queer love, confronting complicated friendships, and experiencing vulnerability in her search for intimacy, she encounters secrets and painful truths that threaten her stability.
Mathews herself is an immigrant who grew up between Oman and India and immigrated to the United States at age 17. Her work has been published in Best American Short Stories. She is a recipient of fellowships from the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first novel has been described as a tender, riveting, profound portrayal of young people in contemporary America. In this online event Mathews will appear in conversation with Jacob, a novelist, memoirist, illustrator, and cultural critic (Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing). Jacob’s work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Literary Hub, Guernica, Vogue, and the Telegraph. She is currently the visiting professor at MFA Creative Writing program at The New School, and a founding faculty member of the MFA Program at Randolph College.
You Are Here: California Stories on the Map, Oakland Museum of California |All of August
This is exhibition is a terrific family outing where kids and adults can see maps that lead to ideas that lead to words spoken or written. Because there is no one map that can tell a person everything about a place, these map makers create their maps to share messages, beliefs, priorities, biases and ideas that are sure to inspire stories, or future study or even, map-making activities from a viewer’s perspective. The museum website says, “You Are Here: California Stories on the Map explores how maps can be used as powerful tools to share unique points of view and imagine a better future.” In OMCA’s Gallery of California Natural Sciences, be sure to catch the collection of maps that compose the “Atlas of Oakland,” the California “Fire Risk Map,” Kenji Liu’s “Decolonized BART Map” that imagines a BART system with stations named for Bay Area residents who fought for social justice, and Margo Rivera-Weiss’s hand-drawn “Favorite Fish Tacos of the East Bay” that is a terrific model for generating maps created by people of any age—and any cuisine preference!
One final big-ticket getaway idea: Sonoma Valley Authors Festival | Aug. 26-28
Other than the free Authors on the Plaza, this is inarguably a pricey literary outing. But with guest authors like Dave Barry, Mary Roach, Amor Towles and so many more, it might be time to treat yourself to a splurge and spend three days amongst the literary stars in Sonoma.