Local Lit | May’s top tips for book lovers
By Lou Fancher
Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month | All of May | Kick-off event is May 4
The theme for this month-long series of events is Forging Community Bonds. Presenting a wide range of activities, events, and programs, the APA Heritage Foundation works in partnership with the Asian Art Museum, the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and the San Francisco Public Library. To learn about the possibilities, visit the website and explore five categories that include Art & History, Live Performances, Films, Food & Culture, and Read & Learn.
Asian American and Pacific Islanders stories and activities connecting directly to literature include a workshop on origami book making, a K-Pop workshop; and an event centered on Japanese aesthetics and art. Or tune into a discussion with rice farmer Robin Koda, wheat farmer Mai Nguyen and chef and cookbook author Diep Tran about the role of rice in the formation of Asian Americana and how it symbolizes the ingenuity, thrift, and resilience of Asian American farmers. Sweet Stories for Families and other programs extend the offerings to the youngest readers.
An opening event May 4 kicks of the celebration with The APA Heritage Awards in San Francisco and includes a Taste of Asia Pacific Reception in City Hall where there will be sampling of diverse Asian cuisine, entertainment, exhibits, raffle drawing and more.
David Sedaris at Cal Performances | May 5
As we begin to emerge from the fettered life pandemic, there is no better tonic than the words and musings of humorist David Sedaris, who is back on the scene with his spicy mix of verbal satire and serious discussion and just plain silliness.
Don’t miss out on Sedaris in-person as he speaks and reads from his work during an upcoming appearance in Berkeley. The prolific author and essayist of works such as Barrel Fever, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Holidays on Ice, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, A Carnival of Snackery, The Best of Me, Calypso, and Happy-Go-Lucky has been a familiar guest at Cal Performances Zellerbach Hall. His near-annual stops at the venue were interrupted by the pandemic, and the word is that he’s coming back with bundles of energy and new stories to tell.
Stick around for the book signing that typically follows because, if the past is prologue to the future, the fun is likely to continue. Sedaris’ high spirits tend to rise as the hour grows late, and the opportunity to mix with fans will prompt more of his entertaining mix of candor, compassion, and comedy.
Bay Area Book Festival | May 7-8
After two years of virtual programming, run — don’t walk — straight to Downtown Berkeley for the literary extravaganza’s two-day return to live events. Leading local and national authors and thinkers will appear on indoor and outdoor stages. Exhibitors, gourmet food vendors, and a big children’s area will take over Civic Center Park.
Among the highlights of the Festival’s 70 indoor programs and 27 programs for adults and youth are Rebecca Solnit speaking on her latest book, Orwell’s Roses, with Geeta Anand; and a Native American program about applying indigenous practices to protecting natural resources. That conversation will be kicked off by Obi Kaufmann and Greg Sarris, chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and author of the forthcoming memoir, Becoming Story: A Journey Among Seasons, Places, Trees, and Ancestors.
Or, catch Wendy Gorton’s recommendations for perfect spring and summer hikes in the Bay area and more tips for families found in her book, 50 Hikes with Kids; and a number of events introducing new, diverse voices in literature of all genres.
Blockbuster Booker Prize winners and New York Times Bestselling writers notwithstanding, the more than 60 local writers who live in the Bay Area and appear at the event make the festival a momentous occasion to celebrate home-based talent. Online, livestream options allow anyone unable to attend in-person to participate in select events.
Kim Fay at Great Good Place for Books | May 17
Jump into the Zoom book club event with GGPB staff and Southern California author Kim Fay in conversation about her latest book, Love & Saffron. In her new novel, the fiction and culinary travel writer blends historical fiction, friendship, food, adventure, and letter-writing in a story about two women who unexpectedly bond.
Fay is a former bookseller and the author of Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam, winner of the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards’ Best Asian Cuisine Book in the United States, and The Map of Lost Memories, an Edgar Award finalist for Best First Novel. She is also the creator/editor of a series of guidebooks on Southeast Asia.
With escapism and human connection top-of-mind, soak up the elixir of warmth between women and shed communal tears over life’s heartaches. GGPB staff member Genevieve recommends having a box of tissues on hand, calling the book “a balm to my soul and just what I needed in these turbulent times.”
Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Performances and Announcement | May 21
The Oakland Public Library event at Lake Merritt Amphitheater will celebrate the city’s 11th annual Youth Poet Laureate. In addition to announcing the 2022 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate and Vice Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, the 90-minute presentation includes performances by all of the 2022 Finalists.
Winners of the Laureate represent Oakland and its youth at public and private events and share their experiences with the press and through blogs, videos, and social media. The Laureate has the opportunity to develop their own poet-leader project. At the end of a successful one-year term, Laureates receive a $5,000 scholarship managed through Scholarship America, an organization that also offers financial, cultural, and social support.
Hear new voices of youth and applaud their ongoing dedication to the power of words to create change, move hearts, protect the planet, and more.