China Miéville

October

China Miéville discusses the subject of his new book, October: The Story of the Russian Revolution, from Verso Books.

China Miéville has long been inspired by the ideals of the Russian Revolution and here, on the centenary of the revolution, he provides his own distinctive take on its history.

In February 1917, in the midst of bloody war, Russia was still an autocratic monarchy: nine months later, it became the first socialist state in world history. How did this unimaginable transformation take place? How was a ravaged and backward country, swept up in a desperately unpopular war, rocked by not one but two revolutions?

This is the story of the extraordinary months between those upheavals, in February and October, of the forces and individuals who made 1917 so epochal a year, of their intrigues, negotiations, conflicts and catastrophes. From familiar names like Lenin and Trotsky to their opponents Kornilov and Kerensky; from the byzantine squabbles of urban activists to the remotest villages of a sprawling empire; from the revolutionary railroad Sublime to the ciphers and static of coup by telegram; from grand sweep to forgotten detail.

Historians have debated the revolution for a hundred years, its portents and possibilities: the mass of literature can be daunting. But here is a book for those new to the events, told not only in their historical import but in all their passion and drama and strangeness. Because as well as a political event of profound and ongoing consequence, Miéville reveals the Russian Revolution as a breathtaking story.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/China_Mieville.jpegChina Miéville is the multi-award-winning author of many works of fiction and non-fiction. His fiction includes The City and the City, Embassytown and This Census-Taker, and has won the Hugo, World Fantasy and Arthur C. Clarke awards; his non-fiction includes the photo-illustrated essay London’s Overthrow and Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law. He has written for various publications, including the New York Times, Guardian, Conjunctions and Granta and he is a founding editor of the quarterly Salvage.

Gordon Ball

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100159320/Images/87286100159320L.jpgCity Lights welcomes Gordon Ball, reading from his new short story collection, On Tokyo’s Edge, from Red Mountain Press.

Gordon Ball is a poet, photographer, filmmaker, professor of English, and master storyteller. For 28 years he took informal photographs of poet Allen Ginsberg and others of the Beat Generation, the literary and cultural phenomenon which has had a world-wide impact since its inception in the mid-1950s.  As well as being exhibited at numerous conferences and other sites, Ball’s photos have appeared in many books, including Dennis McNally’s Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America and Carole Tonkinson’s Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and  the Beat Generation.  Starting at Ginsberg’s upstate New York farm in 1968, he worked with the poet on various literary and artistic projects, editing three books, including two volumes of journals and the Pulitzer Prize nominee Allen Verbatim.  He’s the author of ’66 Frames: A Memoir (Coffee House Press, 1999);  Dark Music (Cityful Press 2006, Elik Press, 2012); and East Hill Farm: Seasons with Allen Ginsberg (Counterpoint 2011).  He is as well an award-winning maker of personal film (and will be giving a Canyon Cinema Salon of his work the night after his reading at City Lights).  His City Lights reading will be devoted to his just-released On Tokyo’s Edge: Gaijin Tales from Postwar Japan, a volume of interrelated short stories which Bill Morgan has characterized as “Beautifully written” and “a book I couldn’t put down.”  Gordon lives in Lexington, Virginia, where he teaches at Washington and Lee University.

Omar El Akkad

Cihttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100381190/Images/87286100381190L.jpgty Lights welcomes Omar El Akkad in conversation with Micheline Aharonian Marcom to discuss & read from his acclaimed new novel, American War, published by Knopf.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Omar%20El%20Akkad_credit%20Michael%20Lionstar.jpegAn audacious and powerful debut novel. a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle—a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Omar El Akkad, formerly of the Globe and Mail, is an award-winning journalist and author who has travelled around the world to cover many of the most important news stories of the last decade. His reporting includes dispatches from the NATO-led war in Egypt and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri. He is a recipient of the National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting for his coverage on the “Toronto 18” terrorism arrests. He has also received the Goff Penny Memorial Prize for Young Journalists, as well as three National Magazine Award honourable mentions. He is a graduate of Queen’s University.

Micheline Aharonian Marcom  is the author of five books including the critically acclaimed trilogy of novels: Three Apples Fell from Heaven (2001), The Daydreaming Boy (2004) which earned her the 2004 Lannan Literary Fellowship as well as the 2005 PEN/USA Award for Fiction, and Draining the Sea (2008). She currently teaches Creative Writing at Mills College and is also on the faculty of the Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing Program.

Deepak Unnikrishnan

City Lighttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100583950/Images/87286100583950L.jpghts welcomes Deepak Unnikrishnan in conversation with Shanthi Sekaran in celebrating his new award winning novel, Temporary People from Restless Books.

In the United Arab Emirates, foreign nationals constitute over 80% of the population. Brought in to construct the towering monuments to wealth that bristle the skylines of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, this labor force works without the rights of citizenship, endures miserable living conditions, and is eventually required to leave the country. Until now, the humanitarian crisis of the so-called “guest workers” of the Gulf has barely been addressed in fiction. With his stunning, mind-altering book Temporary People, debut author Deepak Unnikrishnan delves into their histories, myths, struggles, and triumphs, and illuminates the ways in which temporary status affects psyches, families, memories, stories, and languages.

Combining the irrepressible linguistic invention of Salman Rushdie and the darkly funny satirical vision of George Saunders, Deepak Unnikrishnan presents twenty-eight linked stories that careen from construction workers who shapeshift into luggage and escape a labor camp, to a woman who stitches back together the bodies of those who’ve fallen from buildings in progress, to a man who grows ideal workers designhttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/deepak.jpeged to live twelve years and then perish—until they don’t, and found a rebel community in the desert. In this polyphony of voices, Unnikrishnan brilliantly maps a new, unruly global English, and in giving substance and identity to the anonymous workers of the Gulf, he highlights the disturbing ways in which “progress” on a global scale is bound up with dehumanization.

Deepak Unnikrishnan is a writer and taleteller from Abu Dhabi (and now, Chicago). He has lived on the East Coast and in the Midwest, reciting and mining his myths in Teaneck, New Jersey, Brooklyn, New York, and Chicago’s North and South sides. He has studied and taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and presently teaches at New York University Abu Dhabi. Temporary People, his first book, was the inaugural winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.

Shanthi Sekaran teaches creative writing at California College of the Arts, and is a member of the Portuguese Artists Colony and the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. Her work has appeared in Best New American Voices and Canteen, and online at Zyzzyva and Mutha Magazine. Her first novel, The Prayer Room, was published by MacAdam Cage. She recently released a new novel: Lucky Boy from G.P. Putnam & Sons.

Joyce Carol Oates 3

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100609580/Images/87286100609580L.jpgCity Lights welcomes back Joyce Carol Oates, who reads from her new novel A Book of American Martyrs from Ecco Press.

A BOOK OF AMERICAN MARTYRS intimately links the stories of two very different families. Luther Dunphy is an ardent Evangelical who envisions himself as acting out God’s will when he assassinates an abortion provider in his small Ohio town. Augustus Voorhees, the idealistic doctor who is killed, leaves behind a wife and children scarred and embittered by grief. As the story moves forward, the daughters of these men—one a boxer, the other a journalist—continue to be inextricably tied by the dramatic connection they share. As she alone can, Oates renders whole these two very different families—with very different values and views. Epic and intimate, the narrative explores their warring convictions with dazzling equanimity. A story as immediate as today’s headlines, it also offers a larger perspective on the ways that issues tear us apart as individuals and as a nation.

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Critics Circlhttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/JCO.jpege Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde (a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize), and the New York Times bestsellers The Falls (winner of the 2005 Prix Femina Etranger) and The Gravedigger’s Daughter. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. In 2003 she received the Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature, and in 2006 she received the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jim Nisbet 2

City Lights welcomes Jim Nisbet to celebrate the paperback release of The Syracuse Codex, published by the Overlook Press.

Over the course of http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100478520/Images/87286100478520L.jpgthe last decade, The Overlook Press has brought into print, in quality paperback editions, the majority of the literary oeuvre of San Francisco literary great Jim Nisbet. The Syracuse Codex is the latest in the series of books that are essential reading for all lovers of fiction, especially of the “noir” variety.

In The Syracuse Codex, Nisbet returns in a wild tale of skullduggery, mayhem, and history peopled with a rogue’s gallery of the eccentric and unscrupulous.

San Francisco frame maker Danny Kestrel regularly rubs elbows with the rich and immohttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/NISBET.jpgral at art openings and commissions. But he’s never dreamt of entering their lurid world until Renée Knowles―interior decorator, billionaire’s wife, nymphomaniac―asks for a ride.

When Knowles is murdered soon after their one-night stand, Danny finds himself a prime suspect. Renée’s death has stirred up a hornet’s nest of fabulously crooked and wealthy collectors of black market historical artifacts, all seeking the crown jewel: the eponymous Syracuse Codex, a secret account of Empress Theodora’s illegitimate son. Worse, everyone seems to think Danny has it.

Jim Nisbet is the author of twelve novels and five books of poetry. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times, shortlisted for the Hammett Prize, and published in ten languages. Visit his website at: http://noirconeville.com

John Freeman 2

City Lights welcomes John Freeman in celebrating the release of Freeman’s: Family: The Best New Writing on Family, published by Grove Press. Joining him is essayist and journalist Garnette Cadogan.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/John-Freeman.jpgThe second issue of a new anthology from renowned literary critic John Freeman, featuring never-before-published stories, essays, and poetry by Claire Messud, Aminatta Forna, Marlon James, Alexander Chee, Aleksandar Hemon, Tracy K. Smith, and more.http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100333600/Images/87286100333600L.jpg

Freeman’s: Family is what the series reviewers are calling “bold” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) and “refreshing” (Chicago Literati). Following a debut issue on the theme of “Arrival,” Freeman circles a new topic whose definition is constantly challenged by the best of our writers: family.

In an essay called “Crossroads,” Aminatta Forna muses on the legacy of slavery as she settles her family in Washington, DC, where she is constantly accused of cutting in line whenever she stands next to her white husband. Families are hardly stable entities, so many writers discover. Award-winning novelist Claire Vaye Watkins delivers a stunning portrait of a woman in the throes of postpartum depression. Booker Prize winner Marlon James takes the focus off absent fathers to write about his mother, who calls to sing him happy birthday every year. Even in the darkest moments, humor abounds. In Claire Messud’s home there are two four-legged tyrants; Sandra Cisneros writes about her extended family of past lovers; and Aleksandar Hemon tells the story of his uncle’s desperate attempt to remain a communist despite decades in the Soviet gulag.

With outstanding, never-before-published pieces of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from literary heavyweights and up-and-coming writers alike, Freeman’s: Family collects the most amusing, heartbreaking, and probing stories about family life emerging today.

Molotov Editions Kick-Off Party

City Lights celebrates the launch of Molotov Editions’ first two titles: The White Devil by Domenic Stansberry and The Death of Teddy Ballgame by Robert Mailer Anderson.

This event includes reading, music, theater, movie stars, regular slobs, writers, ducks, barking dogs, circus freaks, beautiful people, materialistic fools, politicians, homeless passerbys, maybe nobody at all, ghosts, old lovers, new lovers, dead parents, parents you wish were dead, friends and lost ones who haunt your imagination and refuse to abandon these empty streets.

About The White Devil:

After a six year hiatus, Edgar award winning novelist Domenic Stansberry has returned to the mystery scene with a chilling new noir: The White Devil, that tells the story of  an aspiring American actress who—together with her brother— is implicated in a series of crimes dating back to their childhood. The novel begins in Rome, among the American ex-patriot community, and from there follows the siblings’ deadly obsession with an aging Italian movie star and her charismatic husband. Stansberry’s protagonist, Vicki Wilson, narrates the story in a voice alternately intimate and distant, a cipher of unwholesome impulse and erotic intrigue.  The result is an elegant tour de force, a psychological noir exploring the murky depths where the differences between the criminal and victim are not entirely clear.

About The Death of Teddy Ballgame:

From Robert Mailer Anderson, the bestseller author of Boonville. The last patrons of Caffe Dante gather for their morning coffee during what may be the final days of civilization. Apocalyptic events disrupt the routine of their lives and they are forced to take responsibility for a darkly comic reckoning which questions their faith in God, love, culture, family, humanity and each other. It’s Beckett meets Mamet meets O’Neil over a double jolt of expresso!

About Molotov Editions:

Molotov Editions are a San Francisco press from the underworld, the howl of individual expression apart from the mainstream, no matter its genre, using whatever means necessary, affordable, convenient or possible. Books are considered to be incendiary devices, messages in flaming bottles that ignite the soul, communicated in private, and their mercantile value has little to do with the echo in the canyon.

For more info visit: http://www.molotoveditions.com

Masande Ntshanga

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100032930/Images/87286100032930L.jpgCity Lights presents Masande Ntshanga reading from his acclaimed new novel The Reactive from Two Dollar Radio.

Heralded in the author’s native South Africa as “the hottest novel of the year,” The Reactive is a clear-eyed and compassionate depiction of a young HIV+ man grappling with the sudden death of his younger brother, for which he feels unduly responsible.

Lindanathi and his friends—Cecelia and Ruan—make their living working low-paying jobs and selling anti-retroviral drugs (during the period in South Africa before ARVs became broadly distributed). In between, they huff glue, drift in and out of parties, and traverse the streets of Cape Town, where they observe the grave material disparities of their country. A mysterious masked man appears seeking to buy their surplus of ARVs, an offer that would present the three with the opportunity to escape their environs, while at the same time forcing Lindanathi to confront his path, and finally, his past.

With brilliant, shimmering prose, Ntshanga has delivered a redemptive, ambitious, and unforgettable first novel.

Masanhttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Masande-Ntshanga-author_large.jpgde Ntshanga is the winner of the inaugural PEN International New Voices Award in 2013, and a finalist for the Caine Prize in 2015. He was born in East London in 1986 and graduated with a degree in Film and Media and an Honours degree in English Studies from UCT, where he became a creative writing fellow, completing his Masters in Creative Writing under the Mellon Mays Foundation. He received a Fulbright Award, an NRF Freestanding Masters scholarship, a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship and a Bundanon Trust Award. His work has appeared in The White Review, Chimurenga, VICE and n + 1. He has also written for Rolling Stone magazine.

Rabih Alameddine

The Angel of HistoryCity Lights welcomes Rabih Alameddine in celebrating the release of The Angel of History from Atlantic Monthly Press.

The incendiary new novel by National Book Award finalist Rabih Alameddine, about an Arab American poet, whose adult life in San Francisco spans the AIDS decades, and his hilarious and heartbreaking struggle to remember and forget the events of an astonishing life. Following the criti

cal and commercial success of An Unnecessary Woman, Alameddine delivers a spectacular portrait of a man and an era of political and social upheaval.

Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/RabihA.jpgHistory follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life, from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS. Hovered over by the presence of alluring, sassy Satan, who taunts Jacob to remember his painful past, and dour, frigid Death, who urges him to forget anxd give up on life, Jacob is also attended to by fourteen saints. With Jacob recalling his life in Cairo, Beirut, Sana’a, Stockholm, and San Francisco, Alameddine gives us a charged philosophical portrayal of a brilliant mind in crisis. This is a profound and winning story of the war between memory and oblivion with which we wrestle every day of our life.

Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels An Unnecessary Woman; I, the Divine; Koolaids; The Hakawati; and the story collection, The Perv.

Rikki Ducornet

City Lights welcomes Rikki Ducornet, reading from her new novel Brightfellow published by Coffee House Press.

A feral boy comes of age on a campus decadent with starched sheets, sweating cocktails, ahttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100362450/Images/87286100362450L.jpgnd homemade jams. Stub is the cause of that missing sweater, the pie that disappeared off the cooling rack. Then Stub meets Billy, who takes him in, and Asthma, who enchants him, and all is found, then lost. A fragrant, voluptuous novel of imposture, misplaced affection, and emotional deformity.http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/rikki.jpeg

An artist and writer, Rikki Ducornet has illustrated books by Robert Coover, Jorge Luis Borges, Forrest Gander, and Joanna Howard. Her paintings have been exhibited widely, including, most recently, at the Pierre Menard Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Salvador Allende Museum in Santiago, Chile.

Tony Serra 2

City Lights hosts Tony Serra as he celebrates the release of his debut novel, The Scaffold: A Treason Death Penalty Trial, published by Grizzly Peak Press.

Beginning with an outline as a young lawyer around 1960 and finally completed in prison as a tax resister, 50 or so years later, J. Tony Serra presents his first novel, The Scaffold: A Treason Death Penalty Trial. The story takes  place during the Second World War in the South Pacific with U.S. P.T. Boats and Japanese zero attack planes juxtaposed against an island paradise. At the center is a court martial trial filled with Serra’s legal career experiences but also an example of life as absurdity. All aspects of living are viewed as metaphors of absurdity. Intellectual discourse is explored as an expression of the Theater of the Absurd. The message is: war is absurd; treason is absurd; the death penalty is absurd and platonic love is humanity’s only redemption.

A native son of San Francisco, Tony Serra has dedicated his life to defending society’s outcasts.  After hearing a Philosophy degree from Stanford University, Serra went on to graduate from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in the 1960s, an era he calls “the golden age of law.”  In his more than 45 years of practice, Serra has helmed a number of noteworthy cases, including Huey Newton, Bear Lincoln, Chol Soo Lee, the Hell’s Angels, Hooty Croy, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the White Panthers, Bari & Cherney v. FBI and more. Serra has been honored with awards from, among others, NORML, ACLU, American Lawyer Magazine, San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Trial Lawyers for Public Justice. Although he has been admitted to practice in 45 separate federal and state jurisdictions in 28 different states, Serra still calls San Francisco home. His first two books are Walking The Circle and Tony Serra published by Grizzly Peak Press.

Greg Jackson

Greg Jackson was at City Lights to celebrating the release of Prodigals: Stories, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, with a reading and a discussion.

Prodigals“People are bullets, fired,” the narrator declares in one of the desperate, eerie stories that make up Greg Jackson’s Prodigals. He’s fleeing New York, with a woman who may be his therapist, as a storm bears down. Self-knowledge here is no safeguard against self-sabotage. A banker sees his artistic ambitions laid bare when he comes under the influence of two strange sisters. A midlife divorcée escapes to her seaside cottage only to find a girl living in it. A journalist is either the guest or the captive of a former tennis star at his country mansion in the Auvergne.

Jackson’s sharp debut drills into the spiritual longing of today’s privileged elite. Adrift in lives of trumpeted possibility and hidden limitation, in thrall to secondhand notions of success, the flawed, sympathetic, struggling characters in these stories seek refuge from meaninglessness in love, art, drugs, and sex. Unflinching, funny, and profound, Prodigals maps the degradations of contemporary life with unusual insight and passion–from the obsession with celebrity, to the psychological debts of privilege, to the impotence of violence, to the loss of grand narratives.

Prodigals is a fiercely honest and heartfelt look at what we have become, at the comedy of our foibles and the pathos of our longing for home.

GregJacksonGreg Jackson grew up in Boston and coastal Maine. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and Granta. He is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Virginia and has been a Fiction Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center and a resident at the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. A winner of the Balch and Henfield prizes, he was a finalist for the 2014 National Magazine Award in Fiction. Prodigals is his first book.

Joyce Carol Oates 2

National Book Award-winning and bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates was at City Lights discussng her latest novel, the critically acclaimed The Man Without a Shadow. In this recording, Joyce Carol Oates also conducts an interview with herself as both questioner and respondent.

This book examines the intimate, illicit relationship between neuroscientist Margot Sharpe and Elihu 87286100622230LHoopes—the “man without a shadow”—whose devastated memory, unable to store new experiences or to retrieve the old, will make him the most famous and most studied amnesiac in history. Their thirty-year relationship, both as scientist and subject and as objects of love, is an exploration of the labyrinthine mysteries of the human brain. Where does “memory” reside? Where is “love”? Is it possible to love an individual who cannot love you, who cannot “remember” you from one meeting to the next?

Robert Jensen

Featured several times in past City Lights line-ups, author Robert Jensen returns to celebrate the release of his new book, Plain Radical: Living, Loving and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully, published by Soft Skull Press.

RobertJensenThere was nothing out of the ordinary about Jim Koplin. He was just your typical central Minnesota gay farm boy with a Ph.D. in experimental psychology who developed anarchist-influenced, radical-feminist, and anti-imperialist politics, while never losing touch with his rural roots. But perhaps the most important thing about Jim is that throughout his life, almost literally to his dying breath, he spent some part of every day on the most important work we have: tending the garden.

Plain Radical is a touching homage to a close friend and mentor taken too soon. But it is also an exploration of the ways in which an intensely local focus paired with a fierce intelligence can provide a deep, meaningful, even radical engagement with the world.

Drawing on first hand accounts as well as the nearly 3,000 pages of correspondence that flowed between the two men between 1988 and 2012, this book is about the intersection of two biographies and the ideas two men constructed together. It is in part a love story, part intellectual memoir, and part political polemic; an argument for how we should understand problems and think about solutions—in those cases when solutions are possible—to create a decent human future.

Robert William Jensen spent his twenties working at newspapers as a reporter and copy editor, receiving an M.A. in journalism and public affairs from American University. After earning a PhD in media ethics and law from the University of Minnesota, in 1992, he began his teaching career at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a professor in journalism and interdisciplinary programs. Jensen is also active in a variety of national political movements and community organizations.

Daniel Sada Tribute

In an evening of celebration of the life and work of the late great Mexican writer Daniel Sada, translator Katherine Silver, literary critic Scott Esposito, and Graywolf Press Editorial Director Ethan Nosowsky join City Lights for discussion and reading of One Out of Two, Sada’s last published work before his passing.

DanielSadaAlmost Never author Daniel Sada, who passed away in 2011, has been hailed as one of the greatest Latin American writers of his generation. In One Out of Two, Sada’s second novel to be translated into English, his talent is on full display in a giddy and comic tale reminiscent of a Shakespearean farce. Sada weaves a mesmerizing portrait of two identical twin sisters in a small town in rural northern Mexico who spend their days happily running a tailoring business, while they delight in confusing people about which sister is which. Gloria and Constitución spend every waking minute together until a suitor enters the picture, and one of the sisters decides that she doesn’t want to live a life without romance and all the good things that come with it. The ensuing competition between the sisters brings their relationship to the breaking point until they come up with an ingenious solution that carries this buoyant farce to its tender and even liberating conclusion.

Suffused with the tension between our desire for union and our desire for independence, One Out of Two is a briskly entertaining novel by an author whose work displays “a whirling riot of color, a wild cacophony of voices, an extravagant display of pyrotechnical prose” (The Washington Post).

Barry Gifford

Barry Gifford reads from his latest work, Writers: 13 Vignettes, recently published by Seven Stories Press.

87286100759960LIn Writers: 13 Vignettes, great American storyteller Barry Gifford paints portraits of famous writers caught in imaginary vulnerable moments in their lives. In prose that is funny, grotesque, and a touch brutal, Gifford shows these writers at their most human, which is to say at their worst: they are liars, frauds, lousy lovers, and drunks. This is a world in which Emily Dickinson remains an unpublished poet, Ernest Hemingway drunkenly sets explosive trip wires outside his home in Havana, Marcel Proust implores the angel of death as a delirious Arthur Rimbaud lies dying in a hospital bed, and Albert Camus converses with a young prostitute while staring at himself in the mirror of a New York City hotel room.

In Gifford’s house of mirrors, we are offered a unique perspective on this group of literary greats. We see their obsessions loom large, and none more than a shared needling preoccupation with mortality. And yet these stories, which are meant to be performed as plays, are also tender and thoughtful exercises in empathy. Gifford asks: What does it means to devote oneself entirely to art? And as an artist, what defines success and failure?

BARRY GIFFORD‘s fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have been published in twenty-eight languages. His novel Night People was awarded the Premio Brancati, established by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Alberto Moravia in Italy, and he has been the recipient of awards from PEN, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. His books Sailor’s Holiday and The Phantom Fatherwere each named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times, and his book Wyoming was named a Novel of the Year by the Los Angeles Times. He has written librettos for operas by the composers Toru Takemitsu, Ichiro Nodaira, and Olga Neuwirth. Gifford’s work has appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Punch, Esquire, La Nouvelle Revue Française, El País, La Republica, Rolling Stone, Brick, Film Comment, El Universal, Projections, and the New York Times. His film credits include Wild at Heart, Perdita Durango, Lost Highway, City of Ghosts, Ball Lightning, and The Phantom Father. Barry Gifford’s most recent books include Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels, Sad Stories of the Death of Kings, Imagined Paradise: New & Selected Poems, and The Roy Stories. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tanwi Nandini Islam

Author Tanwi Nandini Islam joins Achy Obejas in conversation at City Lights to celebrate the release of her critically-acclaimed debut novel, Bright Lines, published by Penguin Books.

For as long as she can reTanwimember, Ella has longed to feel at home. Orphaned as a child after her parents’ murder in the aftermath of the Bangladesh Liberation War, Ella came to Brooklyn to live with the Saleem family: her uncle Anwar, aunt Hashi, and their daughter, Charu, from whom she couldn’t be more different. Ella has never felt entirely comfortable in her own body, and spends hours tending the garden behind the Saleems’ brownstone.

When Ella returns home from college one summer, she is surprised to discover Charu’s friend Maya—a local Islamic cleric’s runaway daughter—asleep in her 87286100954240Mbedroom. The two grow close, and suddenly Ella is forced to come to terms with her sexuality and the increasingly blurry line between friendship and love.

As the girls harbor their secrets, Anwar—owner of a popular neighborhood apothecary—has his own, one that threatens his thirty-year marriage. When tragedy strikes and the Saleems are blamed, it nearly tears apart the family. Ella, Charu, Anwar, and Hashi travel to Bangladesh to reckon with the past, their extended family, and each other.

Tanwi Nandini Islam is a writer, multimedia artist, and founder of Hi Wildflower Botanica, a handcrafted natural perfume and skincare line.  Her writing has appeared in Elle, Fashionista.com and Billboard. A graduate of Vassar College and Brooklyn College’s MFA program, she lives in Brooklyn.

Achy Obejas is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Ruins, Days of Awe and three other books of fiction. Her poetry chapbook, This is What Happened in Our Other Life, was both a critical favorite and a best-seller. She edited and translated, into English, Havana Noir, a collection of crime stories by Cuban writers on and off the island. Her translation, into Spanish, of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao / La Breve y Maravillosa Vida de Óscar Wao was a finalist for Spain’s Esther Benítez Translation Prize from the national translator’s association. She is currently the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Mills College in Oakland, CA, where she lives with her wife, Megan Bayles, and their son Ilan.

Matt Bell: Scrapper

Matt Bell returns to City Lights for a second time to celebrate the release of and read excerpts from his new novel, Scrapper

The second novel from the acclaimed author of In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, Scrapper is a devastating re-imagining of one of America’s greatest cities, its beautiful architecture, its lost houses, shuttered factories, boxing g87286100989380Myms, and storefront churches. With precise, powerful prose, it asks: What do we owe for our crimes, even those we’ve committed to protect the people we love?

Matt Bell is the author most recently of the novel Scrapper, which was published in September 2015 by Soho Press. His last novel, In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods was a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award, a Michigan Notable Book, and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient, as well as the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. He is also the author of two previous books of fiction, How They Were Found and Cataclysm Baby, and a non-fiction book about the classic video game Baldur’s Gate II, published in 2015 by Boss Fight Books.

His writing has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Tin House, The New York Times, Conjunctions, Gulf Coast, The American Reader, and many other publications. Born in Michigan, he now teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.

David Stephen Calonne on Charles Bukowski

Editor David Stephen Calonne joins City Lights to celebrate the release of The Bell Tolls for No One, a book of previously uncollectTheBelled pulp fiction by everyone’s favorite dirty old man, Charles Bukowski. Beginning with the illustrated, unpublished 1947 story, A Kind, Understanding Face, continuing through his famous underground newspaper column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, and concluding with his hardboiled contributions to 1980s glossy adult magazines, The Bells Tolls for No One encompasses the entire range of Bukowski’s talent as a short story writer, from straight-up genre stories to postmodern blurring of fact and fiction. Designed not only for Bukowski fans, but also for readers new to his work, the book contains an informative introduction by editor David Stephen Calonne that provides historical context for these seemingly scandalous and chaotic tales, revealing the hidden hand of the master at the top of his form. Also included are several of Bukowski’s own illustrations.

Born in Andernach, Germany, and raised in Los Angeles, Charles Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he would eventually publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose. He died of leukemia in San Pedro, California on March 9, 1994.

David Stephen Calonne has edited three previous books of uncollected prose by Charles Bukowski for City Lights. He is the author of several books, including the critical study Charles Bukowski, and the editor of Charles Bukowski: Sunlight Here I Am/Interviews and Encounters 1963-1993.

Interview with David Stephen Calonne

City Lights sits down for a one-on-one interview with David Stephen Calonne, editor of the recently released The Bell Tolls for No One, a book of previously uncollected pulp fiction from Charles Bukowski, published by City Lights.

From the self-illustrated, unpublished work written in 1947 to hardboiled contributions to 1980s adult magazines, The Bells Tolls for No One presents the entire range of Bukowski’s talent as a short story writer, from straight-up genre stories to postmodern blurring of fact and fiction. An informative introduction by editor David Stephen Calonne provides historical context for these seemingly scandalous and chaotic tales, revealing the hidden hand of the master at the top of his form.

Born in Andernach, Germany, and raised in Los Angeles, Charles Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he would eventually publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose. He died of leukemia in San Pedro, California on March 9, 1994.

David Stephen Calonne is the author of several books and has edited three previous collections of the uncollected work of Charles Bukowski for City Lights: Absence of the Hero, Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, and More Notes of a Dirty Old Man.

John Freeman

John Freeman joins Oscar Villalon in conversation to celebrate Freeman’s new literary venture, Freeman’s: The Best New Writing on Arrival, from Grove Press.freeman's

A new anthology from renowned literary critic, former Granta editor, and NBCC president John Freeman, Freeman’s: Arrival features never before published stories by Haruki Murakami, Louise Erdrich, Dave Eggers, Etgar Keret, Lydia Davis, David Mitchell, and others.

We live today in constant motion, traveling distances rapidly, small ones daily, arriving in new states. In this inaugural edition of Freeman’s, a new biannual of unpublished writing, former Granta editor and NBCC president John Freeman brings together the best new fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about that electrifying moment when we arrive.

Strange encounters abound. David Mitchell meets a ghost in Hiroshima Prefecture; Lydia Davis recounts her travels in the exotic territory of the Norwegian language; and in a Dave Eggers story, an elderly gentleman cannot remember why he brought a fork to a wedding.

End points often turn out to be new beginnings. Louise Erdrich visits a Native American cemetery that celebrates the next journey, and in a Haruki Murakami story, an aging actor arrives back in his true self after performing a role, discovering he has changed, becoming a new person.

Featuring startling new fiction by Laura van den Berg, Helen Simpson, and Tahmima Anam, as well as stirring essays by Aleksandar Hemon, Barry Lopez, and Garnette Cadogan, who relearned how to walk while being black upon arriving in NYC, Freeman’s announces the arrival of an essential map to the best new writing in the world.

Oscar Villalon is the Managing Editor of ZYZZYVA. He is is the former book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and a board member of the National Book Critics Circle. His reviews have appeared on NPR.org and KQED’s “The California Report.”

Ayize Jama-Everett

Author Ayize Jama-Everett was at City Lights in our Poetry Room for a celebration of the release of Ayize’s two newest books: Entropy of Bones and The Liminal War, published by Small Beer Press.

Ayize Jama-Everett was born in 1974 and raised in Harlem, New York. Since then he   ayize-jama-everett-author-photo-200x200has traveled extensively in Northern Africa, New Hampshire, and Northern California. He holds a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Master’s in Divinity. He teaches religion and psychology at Starr King School for the Ministry when he’s not working as a school therapist at the College Preparatory School. He is the author of three novels, The Liminal People, The Liminal War, and The Entropy of Bones, as well as an upcoming graphic novel with illustrator John Jennings entitled Box of Bones. When not educating, studying, or beating himself up for not writing enough, he’s usually enjoying aged rums and practicing his aim.

Entropy

Entropy of Bones is a Liminal People novel. A young martial artist finds there is more to the world than she can kick, more than she can see. Chabi doesn’t realize her martial arts master may not be on the side of the gods. She does know he’s changed her from being an almost invisible kid to one that anyone — or at least anyone smart — should pay attention to. But attention from the wrong people can mean more trouble than even she can handle. Chabi might be emotionally stunted. She might have no physical voice. She doesn’t communicate well with words, but her body is poetry.

 

The Liminal War is a propulsive novel that starts with a kidnapping iLiminaln London and takes off running. Taggert is a man with a questionable past and the ability to hurt or heal with his thoughts alone. When his adopted daughter goes missing, he immediately suspects the hand of an old enemy. In order to find her, Taggert assembles a team of friends, family, and new allies who don’t quite trust he has left his violent times behind. But their search leads them to an unexpected place: the past.

Getting there is hard, being there is harder, and their journey has a price that is higher than any of us can afford.

Joseph Matthews

In this episode of LIVE! from City Lights, author Joseph Matthews reads from his new novel Everyone Has Their Reasons, published by PM Press.

At a time when the issues of identity, immigration, and class remain both universally  everyone_has_their_reasonsimportant and enormously controversial, Everyone Has Their Reasons is an accessible and captivating tale of one boy’s historically famous experience in the extraordinary setting of roiling pre-WWII Paris. On November 7, 1938, a small, slight 17-year-old Polish-German Jew named Herschel Grynszpan entered the German embassy in Paris and shot dead a consular official. Three days later, in supposed response, Jews across Germany were beaten, imprisoned, and killed, their homes, shops, and synagogues smashed and burned—Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. Based on the historical record and told through his “letters” from German prisons, this novel begins in 1936, when 15-year-old Herschel flees Germany, and continues through his show trial, in which the Nazis sought to demonstrate through his actions that Jews had provoked the war. But Herschel throws a last-minute wrench in the plans, bringing the Nazi propaganda machine to a grinding halt and provoking Hitler to postpone the trial and personally give an order regarding Herschel’s fate.

Born in Boston and raised there and in California, Joseph Matthews was for a number of years a criminal defense lawyer in San Francisco, engaging in the criminal/political cases of anti–Vietnam War activists and Mission District barrio residents, defending prisoners during the California prison rebellions of the 1970s, serving as a public defender, and teaching at the law school of the University of California, Berkeley. He spent considerable time in Greece in the 1970s and 1980s, where his novel Shades of Resistance (1996) is set during the period of the military junta there. His other previous books are the short story collection The Lawyer Who Blew Up His Desk (1998) and the political analysis Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War (2005, with Iain Boal, T.J. Clark, and Michael Watts).

Leonard Gardner’s Fat City

City Lights teams up with the Film Noir Foundation and NYRB Books to present author Leonard Gardner in conversation with Eddie Muller, celebrating the re-release of the literary classic Fat City.

Fat City is a vivid novel of allegiance and defeat, of the potent promise of the goleonardgardnerod life and the desperation and drink that waylay those whom it eludes. Stockton, California, is the setting: the Lido Gym, the Hotel Coma, Main Street lunchrooms and dingy bars, days like long twilights in houses obscured by untrimmed shrubs and black walnut trees. When two men meet in the ring—the retired boxer Billy Tully and the newcomer Ernie Munger—their brief bout sets into motion their hidden fates, initiating young Munger into the company of men and luring Tully back into training. In a dispassionate and composed voice, Leonard Gardner narrates their swings of fortune, and the stubborn optimism of their manager, Ruben Luna, as he watches the most promising boys one by one succumb to some undefined weakness; still, “There was always someone who wanted to fight.”

Leonard Gardner was born in Stockton, California. His writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Esquire, Southwest Review, and other magazines. His screen adaptation of Fat City was made into a film by John Huston. A Guggenheim Fellow, he lives in Northern California.

Eddie Muller is the Bay Area’s very own “Czar of Noir”. Impresario, author, publisher, and film preservationist, as Executive Director of the Noir City Foundation, he has done much to preserve historic noir genre films at risk. Each year he produces the Noir City film festival at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. He has been featured as a host on Turner Classic Movies and has presented numerous commentaries on noir video collections. He is the author of the noir classics The Distance and The Shadow Boxer.