Local Lit | September’s top tips for book lovers
By Lou Fancher
Lear | California Shakespeare Theater | Sept. 7 – Oct. 2
Find the page outdoors and onstage at Bruns Memorial Amphitheater with the world premiere of playwright Marcus Gardley’s Lear. Located in Orinda’s picturesque hills just East of the Caldecott Tunnel, nature’s backdrop — watch the surrounding hillsides turn burnt amber, then plunge into inky blackness as the sun sets during a show — are an aesthetic gift. With this magical setting as backdrop, Obie-winning Gardley returns with a deconstructed adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic work. His previous, acclaimed production black odyssey drew record crowds to Cal Shakes and had multiple performances in an extended run. Gardley’s Lear is set in San Francisco’s Fillmore District. The story of power, madness and betrayal is transcribed into modern language, and features set and costume designs from Tanya Orellana and Lux Haas, respectively, and live jazz musical accompaniment by Bay Area-based musician and composer, Marcus Shelby. The show is sure to be a spectacle of sight and sound. Outgoing Artistic Director Eric Ting and Dawn Monique Williams lead a top tier cast. Don’t miss what is likely to be a highlight of the area’s best literary events in 2022.
Northern California Book Awards | San Francisco Main Public Library | Sept. 11
Cross the Bay Bridge and applaud the best published literary works of 2021. Written by Northern California authors and California translators from all over the state, the eligible categories for awards include Fiction, General Nonfiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and Children’s Literature (Younger Readers, Middle Grade, Young Adult). The California Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose honor works of translation by translators based in California. It takes a village to present the honors. The 41st annual book awards this year arrive courtesy of Northern California Book Reviewers, Poetry Flash, San Francisco Public Library, and community partners Mechanics’ Institute Library and Women’s National Book Association San Francisco Chapter. The Northern California Book Reviewers, editors and book reviewers, select the awards. The free, two-hour award ceremony is followed by a book sale and signing.
Drunk on Love pre-release book launch | East Bay Booksellers | Sept. 19
Berkeley-born, Oakland-based novelist Jasmine Guillory has made it a habit to launch her page-turner romance novels at East Bay Booksellers. The New York Times best-selling author’s latest features protagonist Margot Noble, a co-owner with her brother of a Napa Valley vineyard who must grapple with conflicting allegiances when a new employee hired by her sibling turns out to be a man with whom she had a one-time, romantic liaison. Preordering the book is a must and book shop staff advises that her events in the past have sold out, even pre-COVID when allowable attendance capacities were larger. Hustle up to pre-order a copy and make a reservation to celebrate a local, best-selling author.
Get Lit #88 | Nomadic Press | Sept. 20
If you’ve never taken a dive into this online event during which a dozen established or up-and-coming writers are invited to read never-before-read works — with a three-minute clock running and live music to boot — now is the time. With headquarters in Oakland, the nonprofit Nomadic Press has “nodes” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Des Moines, Iowa; and Brooklyn, New York. Supporting both written and spoken words, the publication endeavors to bring attention to marginalized voices through community-centric participatory events and pitches the tone toward building alliances and unity. Use this event as a prompt for visiting the website, where you’ll find bios and links to new books, imprints, and new authors to follow, including a list of winners of The San Francisco Foundation/Nomadic Press Literary Awards. The awards provide 10 winning writers with $5,000 per recipient for outstanding works in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. In 2021, its inaugural year, 20 writers were awarded $5,000 each.
From Howl to Now: Book Bans in the U.S. | City Lights | Sept. 22
The progressive, venerable City Lights travels arm-in-arm with PEN America during Banned Books Week to present a conversation moderated by Ipek Burnett with writer Marcus Ewert, cartoonist Justin Hall, award-winning educator and writer Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes and best-selling journalist, youth fiction and non-fiction writer, and children’s picture book author Dashka Slater. Coming together in this virtual event to speak on the rise in book bans across the country, they will share thoughts about the suppression of literature, with special focus on literature that addresses issues pertaining to race, gender, and sexuality. Expect a call to action and encouragement to join a movement to uphold the freedom to read. Expect a discussion that pushes beyond rhetoric.