Local Lit | August’s top literary happenings, workshops, and meetups
By Lou Fancher
Oakland Public Library | August (through December 31, 2020)
It’s always fun to start this column with an invitation to join an all-month, all-age appropriate East Bay event. The Oakland Library, in partnership with the Oakland History Center, wants to hear from people who live or work in the East Bay about their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. Submissions will be curated and made available through a digital collection portal in the future. The collective effort to document this historic pubic health crisis and recovery period will serve as a repository for future generations seeking to understand COVID-19 and its impact on people in the East Bay. Participation is simple, but does require signed consent.
Questions include: What changes did you see in your neighborhood during the COVID-19 crisis? How did your [and/or your child’s] school adapt to the shelter in place order? What happened during the pandemic that you didn’t expect? And more.Entries may come in multiple forms: Photograph; Letter; Film/Audio Clip; Artwork; Document; Email; Blog Post; Social Media Post: Diary/Journal Entry; Newsletter; and Poetry.
A House is a Body | August 11
This Zoom event features author Shruti Swamy discussing her riveting new story collection with writer Meng Jin. Swamy, a two-time O. Henry Awards winner, in her new book—with one of the best lit titles of 2020—explores with meticulous detail the inner lives of women. A 2017/2018 Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University and resident of San Francisco, she sets her stories in India and the United States. Make no mistake, these are stories to savor–of women’s joy, fear, suffering and realizations of identity that in one instance, may be grounding, and in another, give reason to flee a relationship or circumstance. Jin is a graduate of Harvard and Hunter College and author of the exquisitely crafted debut novel, Little Gods. Pick up both books and join two young authors fresh out of the gate in a stimulating conversation.
A Great Good Place for Books | August 15
A fundraiser for GGP supports the independent local bookstore with a versatile virtual event featuring authors Byron Lane (A Star is Bored), editor Steven Rowley (The Editor ) in discussion with author Bianca Marais. Lane’s buzzy, wickedly funny novel about an assistant and his movie star boss is loosely based on Lane’s time as and assistant to actress Carrie Fisher.” Rowley snares another celebrity—Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, as the editor and foil to a struggling writer—in a novel that manages to be lively, humorous, and poignant. GGP provides a variety of levels to offer support; from a $55 ticket that provided a hardcover copy of A Star is Bored, paperback copy of The Editor, and a Zoom link to view the live discussion to a $10 fee for access to a Zoom link.
Book Passage Corte Madera/Heyday Books | August 16
Parents, teachers, and other educators will appreciate a new release from Berkeley-based Heyday Books: How to Teach Nature Journaling: Curiosity, Wonder, Attention. Co-authors John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren have created a visual compelling, imaginative teaching tool for use with young people. Nature journaling and drawing lessons and how-tos for instructors managing students in a variety of ecosystems and settings are incorporated in the field-tested lessons that support Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. If you can’t make it to Corte Madera for this event introduced by author Amy Tan, who wrote the foreword to the book, visit HeydayBooks.com to order a copy.
Bridget Quinn | She Votes: How U.S. Women Won Suffrage, and What Happened Next | Virtual Event: August 18
Poised on the 100th Anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment that handed victory to the women who won suffrage, Quinn’s vivid prose lays out a savvy, truth-telling account of women’s fight for civil rights with showcase illustrations by 100 women artists.
Dynamic women abound in the century-spanning narrative covering history from pre–Seneca Falls to post–Riot Grrrls. Especially if you think you’ve read everything about the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation (read the book and find out who she is) or Betty Friedan, Audre Lorde, Sacajawea, Mary Cassatt, Angela Davis or other s’heroes of women’s history, there’s added value because Quinn doesn’t mythologize the struggle for women’s rights in the United States and tosses in lesser-known, humanizing facts in addition to standards.
Just one book in a series of recent publications highlighting women’s achievements from Bay Area-based publisher Chronicle Books—this book is well-timed for a presidential election year. Quinn will be in conversation with Carol Edgarian, award-wining author and founder of the online literary magazine, Narrative Magazine.