Writers Who Love Too Much

City Lights welcomes Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian, joined by special guests Margaret Jenkins, David O. Steinberg, Judy Grahn, Camille Roy, Roberto Bedoya, Gabrielle Daniels, Scott Watson, and Matias Viegener in celebrating the release of Writers Who Love Too Much: New Narrative 1977-1997, edited by Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian and published by Nightboat Books.

In the twenty years that followed America’s bicentennial, narrative writing was re-formed, reflecting new political and sexual realities. With the publication of this anthology, the New Narrative era bounds back to life, ripe with dramatic propulsion and infused with the twin strains of poetry and Continental theory. Arranged chronologically, the reader will discover classic texts of New Narrative from Bob Glück to Kathy Acker, and rare materials including period interviews, reviews, essays, and talks combined to form a new map of late twentieth-century creative rebellion.

Dodie Bellamy is the author of numerous works of prose. Her latest book is When the Sick Rule the World. She teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University and California College of the Arts.

Kevin Killian is a San Francisco-based poet, novelist, playwright, and art writer. He is the author of fifteen books and co-wrote Poet Be Like God, a biography of the American poet Jack Spicer (1925-1965). City Lights published his novel Impossible Princess, winner of the 2010 Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Erotica .

James Nolan

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100697790/Images/87286100697790L.jpgCity Lights welcomes James Nolan to celebrate the release of his new book, Flight Risk: Memoirs of a New Orleans Bad Boy, from University Press of Mississippi.

Flight Risk takes off as a page-turning narrative with deep roots and a wide wingspan. James Nolan, a fifth-generation New Orleans native, offers up an intimate portrait both of his insular hometown and his generation’s counterculture. Flight runs as a theme throughout the book, which begins with Nolan’s escape from the gothic mental hospital to which his parents committed the teenaged poet during the tumult of 1968. This breakout is followed by the self-styled revolutionary’s hair-raising flight from a Guatemalan jail, and years later, by the author’s bolt from China, where he ditched his teaching position and collectivist ideals. These Houdini-like feats foreshadow a more recent one, how he dodged biblical floods in a stolen school bus three days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

Nolan traces these flight patterns to those of his French ancestors who fled to New Orleans in the mid-nineteenth century, established a tobacco business in the French Quarter, and kept the old country alive in their Creole demimonde. The writer describes the eccentric Seventh Ward menagerie of the extended family in which he grew up, his early flirtation with extremist politics, and a strong bond with his freewheeling grandfather, a gentleman from the Gilded Age. Nolan’s quest for his own freedom takes him to the flower-powered, gender-bending San Francisco of the sixties and seventies, as well as to an expatriate life in Spain during the heady years of that nation’s transition to democracy. Like the prodigal son, he eventually returns home to live in the French Quarter, around the corner from where his grandmother grew up, only to struggle through the aftermath of Katrina and the city’s resurrection.

Many of these stories are entwined with the commentaries of a wry flâneur, addressing such subjects as the nuances of race in New Orleans, the Disneyfication of the French Quarter, the numbing anomie of digital technology and globalization, the challenges of caring for aging parents, Creole funeral traditions, how to make a soul-searing gumbo, and what it really means to belong.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/james_nolan_author_photo-cropped.jpgJames Nolan is a fiction writer, poet, essayist, and translator. His eleven books include the recent You Don’t Kno Me: New and Selected Stories (winner of the 2015 Independent Publishers Gold Medal in Southern Fiction) and the novel Higher Ground (awarded a William Faulkner/Wisdom Gold Medal in the Novel). He has taught at universities in San Francisco, Florida, Barcelona, Madrid, and Beijing, as well as in his native New Orleans.

Oakland Noir

http://akashicbooks.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/uploads/OaklandNoir-509x800.jpgCity Lights celebrates a new crime anthology from Akashic Books, Oakland Noirwith Nick Petrulakis, Jamie DeWolf, Eddie Muller & Jerry Thompson.

California’s noir quotient continues to rise with Oakland Noir, which reveals all the dark complexities of this prominent city. Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each story is set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book.

The anthology features brand-new stories by: Nick Petrulakis, Kim Addonizio, Keenan Norris, Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder, Katie Gilmartin, Dorothy Lazard, Harry Louis Williams II, Carolyn Alexander, Phil Canalin, Judy Juanita, Jamie DeWolf, Nayomi Munaweera, Mahmud Rahman, Tom McElravey, Joe Loya, and Eddie Muller.

Jerry Thompson is an accomplished violinist, playwright, and poet. He is the coauthor of Black Artists in Oakland, and owned Black Spring Books, an independent bookstore.

Eddie Muller, a.k.a. the “Czar of Noir,” has been nominated for several Edgar and Anthony awards, and his novel The Distance won a Shamus Award. He produces the San Francisco Noir City Film Festival, the largest annual film noir retrospective in the world, and is a frequent host on Turner Classic Movies.

Elif Batuman

City Lights presents Elif Batuman who discusses her new novel, The Idiot, published by Penguin Press. http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100643900/Images/87286100643900L.jpg

A portrait of the artist as a young woman. A novel about not just discovering but inventing oneself.

The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic and worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and, almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Selin may have barely spoken to Ivan, but with each email they exchange, the act of writing seems to take on new and increasingly mysterious meanings.

At the end of the school year, Ivan goes to Budapest for the summer, and Selin heads to the Hungarian countryside, to teach English in a program run by one of Ivan’s friends. On the way, she spends two weeks visiting Paris with Svetlana. Selin’s summer in Europe does not resonate with anything she has previously heard about the typical experiences of American college students, or indeed of any other kinds of people. For Selin, this is a journey further inside herself: a coming to grips with the ineffable and exhilarating confusion of first love, and with the growing consciousness that she is doomed to become a writer.

With superlative emotional and intellectual sensitivity, mordant wit, and pitch-perfect style, Batuman dramatizes the uncertainty of life on the cusp of adulthood. Her prose is a rare and inimitable combination of tenderness and wisdom; its logic as natural and inscrutable as that of memory itself. The Idiot is a heroic yet self-effacing reckoning with the terror and joy of becoming a person in a world that is as intoxicating as it is disquieting. Batuman’s fiction is unguarded against both life’s affronts and its beauty–and has at its command the complete range of thinking and feeling which they entail.http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/elif.jpg

Elif Batuman has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2010. She is the author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them. The recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and a Paris Review Terry Southern Prize for Humor, she also holds a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University.

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.

Logic Magazine First Issue Release Party

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/logic.jpgCity Lights welcomes Logic‘s founding editors, Ben Tarnoff, Moira Weigel, Jim Fingal, Christa Hartsock and Logic contributors Tim Hwang, Miriam Posner, and Conrad Amenta, in telling the story of technology. City Lights celebrates their very first issue!

Logic is a new magazine devoted to technology and society. Please join us for a celebration of their debut issue, “Intelligence,” which explores how technology works—and whom it works for. Hear thier editors read from our founding manifesto, and listen to contributors tackle topics as varied as: coding’s gender crisis, the failure of collective intelligence in the Age of Trump, and the industrialization of medicine through software.

Learn more about the magazine, and read their manifesto, at logicmag.io.

Ben Tarnoff writes about technology and politics for The Guardian and Jacobin. His most recent book is The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature.

Moira Weigel writes about gender and technology for The New York Times, The Guardian, and The New Republic. She is the author of Labor Love: The Invention of Dating.

Jim Fingal is a software developer and the Head of Product Engineering at Amino. He is the co-author, with John D’Agata, of The Lifespan of a Fact.

Christa Hartsock is a software developer and a 2017 Code for America Fellow.

Tim Hwang is a Fellow at Data & Society and has worked with the Berkman Center, Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Institute for the Future.

Miriam Posner teaches in the Digital Humanities program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Conrad Amenta writes about video games and culture for Kill Screen and works as a healthcare researcher in San Francisco.

Shakespeare and Company Celebration

Editor Krista Halverson and guest speakers celebrate the release of Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart, published by Shakespeare and Company Paris and edited with introduction by Krista Halverson. Foreword by Jeanette Winterson. Epilogue by Sylvia Whitman.

A copiously illustrated account of City Lights’ sister store, the famed Paris bookstore on its 65th anniversary.

This first-ever history of the legendary bohemian bookstore in Paris interweaves essays and poetry from dozens of writers associated with the shop–Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, Ethan Hawke, Robert Stone and Jeanette Winterson, among others–with hundreds of never-before-seen archival pieces, including photographs of James Baldwin, William Burroughs and Langston Hughes, plus a foreword by the celebrated British novelist Jeanette Winterson and an epilogue by Sylvia Whitman, the daughter of the store’s founder, George Whitman. The book has been edited by Krista Halverson, director of the newly founded Shakespeare and Company publishing house.

George Whitman opened his bookstore in a tumbledown 16th-century building just across the Seine from Notre-Dame in 1951, a decade after the original Shakespeare and Company had closed. Run by Sylvia Beach, it had been the meeting place for the Lost Generation and the first publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses. (This book includes an illustrated adaptation of Beach’s memoir.) Since Whitman picked up the mantle, Shakespeare and Company has served as a home-away-from-home for many celebrated writers, from Jorge Luis Borges to Ray Bradbury, A.M. Homes t

o Dave Eggers, as well as for young authors and poets. Visitors are invited not only to read the books in the library and to share a pot of tea, but sometimes also to live in the bookstore itself–all for free.

More than 30,000 people have stayed at Shakespeare and Company, fulfilling Whitman’s vision of a “socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.” Through the prism of the shop’s history, the book traces the lives of literary expats in Paris from 1951 to the present, touching on the Beat Generation, civil rights, May ’68 and the feminist movement–all while pondering that perennial literary question, “What is it about writers and Paris?”

Krista Halverson is the director of Shakespeare and Company bookstore’s publishing venture. Previously, she was the managing editor of Zoetrope: All-Story, the art and literary quarterly published by Francis Ford Coppola, which has won several National Magazine Awards for Fiction and numerous design prizes. She was responsible for the magazine’s art direction, working with guest designers including Lou Reed, Kara Walker, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Zaha Hadid, Wim Wenders and Tom Waits, among others.

Jeanette Winterson‘s first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, was published in 1985. In 1992 she was one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. She has won numerous awards and is published around the world. Her memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, was an international bestseller. Her latest novel, The Gap of Time, is a “cover version” of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

Sylvia Whitman is the owner of Shakespeare and Company bookstore, which her father opened in 1951. She took on management of the shop in 2004, when she was 23, and now co-manages the bookstore with her partner, David Delannet. Together they have opened an adjoining cafe, as well as launched a literary festival, a contest for unpublished novellas and a publishing arm.

Keramet Reiter

City Lights and Uncommon Law welcome Keramet Reiter in conversation with Keith Wattley of UnCommon Law to discuss 23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement from Yale University Press.
http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100121750/Images/87286100121750L.jpg
Originally meant to be brief and exceptional, solitary confinement in U.S. prisons has become long-term and common. Prisoners spend twenty-three hours a day in featureless cells, with no visitors or human contact for years on end, and they are held entirely at administrators’ discretion. Keramet Reiter tells the history of one “supermax,” California’s Pelican Bay State Prison, whose extreme conditions recently sparked a statewide hunger strike by 30,000 prisoners. This book describes how Pelican Bay was created without legislative oversight, in fearful response to 1970s radicals; how easily prisoners slip into solitary; and the mental havoc and social costs of years and decades in isolation. The product of fifteen years of research in and about prisons, this book provides essential background to a subject now drawing national attention.

Keramet Reiter, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society and at the School of Law at the University of California, Irvine, has been an advocate at Human Rights Watch and testified about the impacts of solitary confinement before state and federal legislators. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Keith Wattley is the founder and executive director of UnCommon Law. He has been advocating for the rights of prisoners and parolees for nearly twenty years. Prior to launching UnCommon Law in 2006, Keith was a staff attorney at the Prison Law Office, a nonprofit law firm in Berkeley. He has represented thousands of prisoners in impact litigation and individual matters involving mental health care, gang validation, religious freedom, prison infirmaries, medical care, excessive force, visitation, parole consideration and parole revocation. He has also trained hundreds of lawyers, law students and others in prisoner and parole advocacy. Keith is also co-chair of the Institutional Review Board (human subjects committee) for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. He was also a member of the Founding Board of Directors for the Prison University Project (San Quentin’s College Program) and a member of the Board of Directors for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.

UnCommon Law is a California non-profit law office whose mission is to help long-term prisoners understand and resolve the factors that contributed to their crimes so that they can safely be released. We work with prisoners for months or years in advance of their parole board hearings, and we represent them in those hearings and in court petitions challenging the parole board and the Governor.

Hot Books Inaugural Party

City Lights celebrates an exciting new publishing venture!

Hosted by David Talbot with Rebecca Gordon, Nicholas Schou, and Alexander Zaitchik.http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/HotBooks.jpg

Our body politic has grown sluggish and dull-witted, stuffed with a steady diet of junk media and corporate propaganda. It’s time to light a fire under this slumbering giant, American democracy. It’s time to think dangerous thoughts. Enter Hot Books. The Hot Books series will seek to live up to its name – offering tightly-written books (no longer than 40,000 words) that passionately address the most burning issues of our day. Some Hot Books will take the form of argument and storytelling. Others will be works of investigative journalism, trying to fill the void left by too many newspapers and magazines in the digital age, when in-depth reporting and editorial budgets have been severely cut back. Whether they are searing collections of essays or works of crusading journalism, Hot Books will draw inspiration from that great prophetic tradition of speaking truth to power and enlightening the public. Hot Books authors will dare to speak the unspeakable.

Three new books are celebrated:

American Nuremberg: The US Officials Who Should Be Prosecuted for Post 9/11 War Crimes – by Rebecca Gordon

Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood – by Nicholas Schou

The Gilded Rage: A Wild Ride Through Donald Trump’s America – by Alexander Zaitchik

David Talbot dreamed up Hot Books in partnership with Tony Lyons, publisher of the independent book company Skyhorse. Talbot is the founder and former editor-in-chief of Salon. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, the national bestseller, Season of the Witch, and, most recently, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. Talbot was a senior editor at Mother Jones magazine, and his writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Time, The Guardian and other publications. He lives in San Francisco.

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.

Donna J. Haraway

City Lights Bookstore welcomes Donna J. Haraway in discussing the subject of her new book, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene from Duke University Press.

In the midst ofhttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100312000/Images/87286100312000L.jpg spiraling ecological devastation, multispecies feminist theorist Donna J. Haraway offers provocative new ways to reconfigure our relations to the earth and all its inhabitants. She eschews referring to our current epoch as the Anthropocene, preferring to conceptualize it as what she calls the Chthulucene, as it more aptly and fully describes our epoch as one in which the human and nonhuman are inextricably linked in tentacular practices. The Chthulucene, Haraway explains, requires sym-poiesis, or making-with, rather than auto-poiesis, or self-making. Learning to stay with the trouble of living and dying together on a damaged earth will prove more conducive to the kind of thinking that would provide the means to building more livable futures. Theoretically and methodologically driven by the signifier SF—string figures, science fact, science fiction, speculative feminism, speculative fabulation, so far—Staying with the Trouble further cements Haraway’s reputation as one of the most daring and original thinkers of our time.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Donna-and-Cayenne-crop.jpgDonna J. Haraway is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of several books, most recently, Manifestly Haraway. Professor Haraway is a prominent scholar in the field of science and technology studies. She has recieved numerous awards including from the Society for Social Studies of Science and a J.D. Bernal Award. Dr. Haraway’s works have contributed to the study of human-machine and human-animal relations. Her work has sparked debates in primatology, philosophy, and developmental biology.

Carey Perloff and Joshua Mohr

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100775260/Images/87286100775260L.jpgCo-presented by Litquake, and with a introduction from City Light’s publisher and executive director Elaine Katzenberger, City Lights welcomes Carey Perloff, the Artistic Director of A.C.T. to discuss Beautiful Chaos: A Life in the Theater (published by the City Lights Foundation). Beautiful Chaos was chosen by the San Francisco Public Library as their One City One Book selection for Fall 2016! Carey is interviewed by novelist Joshua Mohr, whose most recent book is All This Life.
Perloff pens a lively and revealing memoir of her twenty-plus years at the helm, and delivers a provocative and impassioned manifesto for the role of live theater in today’shttp://www.citylights.com/resources/persons/17050.gif technology-infused world.

Perloff’s personal and professional journey—her life as a woman in a male-dominated profession, as a wife and mother, a playwright, director, producer, arts advocate, and citizen in a city erupting with enormous change—is a compelling, entertaining story for anyone interested in how theater gets made. She offers a behind-the-scenes perspective, including her intimate working experiences with well-known actors, directors, and writers including Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter, Robert Wilson, David Strathairn, and Olympia Dukakis.

Whether reminiscing about her turbulent first years as a young woman taking over an insolvent theater in crisis and transforming it into a thriving, world-class performance space, or ruminating on the potential for its future, Perloff takes on critical questions about arts education, cultural literacy, gender disparity, leadership and power.

Tripwire: A Journal of Poetics

City Lights welcomes a live reading with writers from Tripwire, a journal of poetics with special guest CAConrad, joined by Kevin Killian, Juliana Spahr, Marianne Morris, & Lara Durback, along with painter Yuh-Shioh Wong, hosted by David Buuck.

Tripwire, a journal of poetics, is devoted to a counter-institutional exploration of radical and experimental modes of contemporary poetics, art, and cultural politics. The journal was founded in 1998 by Yedda Morrison and current editor Dahttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/CAConrad.jpegvid Buuck. Six issues were published between 1998-2002, with a special supplement published in September 2004 for the RNC protests in New York.

CAConrad is the author of seven books including ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (Wave, 2014), A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon (Wave, 2012), The Book of Frank (Chax Press, 2009/Wave, 2010). A 2014 Lannan Fellow, a 2013 MacDowell Fellow,  a 2011 Pew Fellow, and a Headlands Art Fellow, he also conducts workshops on (Soma)tic poetry and Ecopoetics. Visit him online at: http://caconradbooks.blogspot.com/.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Buuk.jpegDavid Buuck lives in Oakland, CA. He is the founder of BARGE, the Bay Area Research Group in Enviro-aesthetics, and co-founder and editor of Tripwire, a journal of poetics. He has collaborated and performed with dancer/choreographer Abby Crain since 2010. An Army of Lovers, co-written with Juliana Spahr, was published in 2013 City Lights, and SITE CITE CITY was published by Futurepoem in fall 2014. Visit his PennSound page for audio, and go to the Buuck/BARGE blog for recent work and upcoming events.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

City Lights welcomes Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, reading from and discussing his new book Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Writer’s Awakening from The New Press.

Birth of a Dream Weaver charts the very beginnings of a writer’s creative output. In this wonderful memoir, Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o recounts the four years he spent at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda—threshold years during which he found his voice as a journalist, short story writer, playwright, and novelist just as colonial empires were crumbling and new nations were being born—under the shadow of the rivalries, intrigues, and assassinations of the Cold War.Birth of a Dream Weaver

Haunted by the memories of the carnage and mass incarceration carried out by the British colonial-settler state in his native Kenya but inspired by the titanic struggle against it, Ngũgĩ, then known as James Ngugi, begins to weave stories from the fibers of memory, history, and a shockingly vibrant and turbulent present.

What unfolds in this moving and thought-provoking memoir is simulhttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/thiongo_ngugi_wa_daniel_anderson.jpgtaneously the birth of one of the most important living writers—lauded for his “epic imagination” (Los Angeles Times)—the death of one of the most violent episodes in global history, and the emergence of new histories and nations with uncertain futures.

One of the leading African writers and scholars at work today, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o was born in Limuru, Kenya, in 1938. He is the author of A Grain of Wheat; Weep Not, Child; Petals of Blood; and Birth of a Dream Weaver (The New Press). He is currently distinguished professor in the School of Humanities and the director of the International Center for Writing and Translation at the University of California, Irvine. He has been nominated for the Man Booker International Prize.

David Price

Author David Price discusses the subject of his new book, Cold War Anthropology: The CIA, the Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual Use Anthropology from Duke University Press, at City Lights Bookstore

In Cold War Anthropology, David H. Price offers a provocative account of the profound influence that the American security state has had ohttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100627450/Images/87286100627450L.jpgn the field of anthropology since the Second World War. Using a wealth of information unearthed in CIA, FBI, and military records, he maps out the intricate connections between academia and the intelligence community and the strategic use of anthropological research to further the goals of the American military complex. The rise of area studies programs, funded both openly and covertly by government agencies, encouraged anthropologists to produce work that had intellectual value within the field while also shaping global counterinsurgency and development programs that furthered America’s Cold War objectives. Ultimately, the moral issues raised by these activities prompted the American Anthropological Association to establish its first ethics code. Price concludes by comparing Cold War-era anthropology to the anthropological expertise deployed by the military in http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/david-price.jpegthe post-9/11 era.

David H. Price is Professor of Anthropology at Saint Martin’s University. He is the author of Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists and Anthropological Intelligence: The Use and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War, both published by Duke University Press, and Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State.

Jeff Chang and Rebecca Solnit

City Lights welcomed Jeff Chang to celebrate the release of his collection of essays, We Gon’ Be Alright, published by Picador. He is in conversation with Rebecca Solnit about the book.

In these provocative, powerful essays acclaimed writer/journalist Jeff Chttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100811750/Images/87286100811750L.jpghang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Who We Be) takes an incisive and wide-ranging look at the recent tragedies and widespread protests that have shaken the country. Through deep reporting with key activists and thinkers, passionately personal writing, and distinguished cultural criticism, We Gon‘ Be Alrigh links #BlackLivesMatter to #OscarsSoWhite, Ferguson to Washington D.C., the Great Migration to resurgent nativism. Chang explores the rise and fall of the idea of “diversity,” the roots of student protest, changing ideas about Asian Americanness, and the impact of a century of racial separation in housing. He argues that resegregation is the unexamined condition of our time, the undoing of which is key to moving the nation forward to racial justice and cultural equity.

JEFF CHANG is the author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation and Who We Be: A Cultural Histhttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Jeff%20Chang.jpgory of Race in Post–Civil Rights America. He has been a USA Ford Fellow in Literature and the winner of the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award. He is the executive director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University. Visit: http://cantstopwontstop.com/

Ralph Nader

City Lights Bookstore welcomes Ralph Nader for the release of his new book, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think  published by City Lights Books. Elaine Katzenberger, publisher and executive director of City Lights, opens the event. Matt Gonzalez introduces Ralph who talks about the main thrust of his new book, namely what normal citizens can do, right now, to break through corporate power and make change happen.http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100290780/Images/87286100290780L.jpg

In Breaking Through Power, Nader draws from a lifetime waging—and often winning—David vs. Goliath battles against big corporations and the United States government. In this succinct, Tom Paine-style wake-up call, the iconic consumer advocate highlights the success stories of fellow Americans who organize change and work together to derail the many ways in which wealth manipulates politics, labor, media, the environment and the quality of national life today. Nader makes an inspired case about how the nation can—and must—be democratically managed by communities guided by the U.S. Constitution, not by the dictates of big businesses and the wealthy few. This is classic Ralph Nader, a crystallization of the core political beliefs and commitmImage result for ralph naderents that have driven his lifetime of advocacy for greater democracy.

Ralph Nader is a two-time Nieman Fellow who has been awarded for his political activism that focuses in the areas of consumer protection, environmentalism, and government reform causes. His work has been affected the passing of several pieces of legislation, such as  the Freedom of Information Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the Whistleblower Protection Act. Nader was the subject of the documentary film, An Unreasonable Man, which showed at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006.

 

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).

Best Kept Secrets: The Fiction of Lucia Berlin

Join City Lights and the Book Club of California in an event that is described by editor Stephen Emerson as a “homecoming” for the late short-story writer Lucia Berlin, an evening celebrating Lucia’s life, work, and newly published collection A Manual for Cleaning Women. The event features readings by Gloria Frym, Barry Gifford, Alastair Johnston, August Kleinzahler, Jim Nisbet, and Michael Wolfe.

luciaA Manual for Cleaning Women compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With her trademark blend of humor and melancholy, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday–uncovering moments of grace in the cafeterias and Laundromats of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Northern California upper classes, and from the perspective of a cleaning woman alone in a hotel dining room in Mexico City.
The women of Berlin’s stories are lost, but they are also strong, clever, and extraordinarily real. They are hitchhikers, hard workers, bad Christians. With the wit of Lorrie Moore and the grit of Raymond Carver, they navigate a world of jockeys, doctors, and switchboard operators. They laugh, they mourn, they drink. Berlin, a highly influential writer despite having published little in her lifetime, conjures these women from California, Mexico, and beyond. Lovers of the short story will not want to miss this remarkable collection from a master of the form.

Lucia Berlin (1936-2004) was first published when she was twenty-four in The Atlantic Monthly and in Saul Bellow and Keith Botsford’s journal The Noble Savage. Berlin worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Her stories are culled from her early childhood in various Western mining towns; her glamorous teenage years in Santiago, Chile; three failed marriages; a lifelong problem with alcoholism; her years spent in Berkeley, New Mexico, and Mexico City; and the various jobs she later held to support her writing and her four sons, including as a high-school teacher, a switchboard operator, a physician’s assistant, and a cleaning woman.

Stephen Emerson is the editor of A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories of Lucia Berlin. He was her close friend and constant correspondent from soon after their first meeting in 1978. His own books include Neighbors (stories, Tombouctou) and The Wife (short novel, Longriver Books). His work has appeared in New Directions in Poetry and Prose, Hambone, and The Review of Contemporary Fiction. Emerson worked as an editor for many years and, later, toiled in what Elmore Leonard called “the advertising game.” He is now writing new stories steadily, but slowly.

Gloria Frym is the author of two short story collections—Distance No Object (City Lights) and How I Learned (Coffee House Press)—as well as many volumes of poetry, including Mind Over Matter and Any Time Now. Her book Homeless at Home received an American Book Award. She currently chairs and teaches in the MFA in Writing program at California College of the Arts. The True Patriot, a collection of her prose, is due out in Fall 2015.

Novelist, screenwriter, and poet Barry Gifford’s most recent books include The Up-Down, Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels, Imagining Paradise: New & Selected Poems and The Roy Stories. His film credits include Wild at Heart, Perdita Durango, Lost Highway, and City of Ghosts. His novel Night People was awarded Italy’s Premio Brancati, and he has received awards from PEN, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. Gifford’s work appears in such magazines as The New Yorker, Punch, Esquire, La Nouvelle Revue Française, Film Comment, and Rolling Stone.

Alastair Johnston co-founded Poltroon Press in Berkeley with the artist Frances Butler in 1975 to publish original works of poetry and fiction. He has written much of the literature on California printing history, as well as books on the history of typography. In 1983 Poltroon published Lucia Berlin’s Legacy, a story about a dipsomaniacal dentist and grandfather, later re-titled “Dr. H.A. Moynihan.” In 1988 they published Safe & Sound, her third collection of stories, illustrated by Butler. Berlin herself helped set the book on the Linotype machine and later delighted in referring to herself as a “tramp printer.”

August Kleinzahler’s most recent collections of poetry are Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (Selected Poems), which won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award, and Hotel Oneira, both from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. He is the author of two books of prose, Cutty, One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained and Music: I-LXXIV. Kleinzahler also edited the Selected Poems of Thom Gunn (2009). He is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books (where he’s written extensively about Lucia Berlin). In 2008, Kleinzahler won the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry. He walks in beauty like the night .

Jim Nisbet, a long-time friend of Lucia Berlin and an avid fan of her stories, has published twenty books including Lethal Injection, widely regarded as a classic roman noir, and Laminating The Conic Frustum, his sole non-fiction title. Current projects include a fourteenth novel, You Don’t Pencil, and a complete translation of Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal.

Michael Wolfe writes poetry and prose and produces documentary films. Twice a recipient of the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship, he was for many years the publisher of Tombouctou Books, a press based in Bolinas, California that published, among many other titles, Lucia Berlin’s second collection, Phantom Pain. His most recent book is a set of ancient Greek epitaphs in translation from Johns Hopkins University Press, Cut These Words into Stone. He lives with his wife in San Juan Bautista.

Praise for A Manual for Cleaning Women:

[Lucia Berlin] may just be the best writer you’ve never heard of . . . Imagine a less urban Grace Paley, with a similar talent for turning the net of resentments and affections among family members into stories that carry more weight than their casual, conversational tone might initially suggest . . . Berlin’s offbeat humor, get-on-with-it realism, and ability to layer details that echo across stories and decades give her book a tremendous staying power . . . [A Manual for Cleaning Women] goes a long way toward putting Berlin, who died in 2004, back in the public eye. – Publishers Weekly
Berlin’s literary model is Chekhov, but there are extra-literary models too, including the extended jazz solo, with its surges, convolutions, and asides. This is writing of a very high order. – August Kleinzahler on Where I Live Now, London Review of Books

This remarkable collection occasionally put me in mind of Annie Proulx’s Accordion Crimes, with its sweep of American origins and places. Berlin is our Scheherazade, continually surprising her readers with a startling variety of voices, vividly drawn characters, and settings alive with sight and sound. – Barbara Barnard on Where I Live Now, American Book Review
[The stories] are told in a conversational voice and they move with a swift and often lyrical economy. They capture and communicate moments of grace and cast a lovely, lazy light that lasts. Berlin is one of our finest writers and here she is at the height of her powers. – Molly Giles, San Francisco Chronicle on So Long

 

Stars Seen in Person: A Tribute to John Wieners

City Lights celebrates the life and work of renowned 20th-century American poet John Wieners with readings from the newly released Stars Seen in Person: Selected Journals by John Wieners (published by City Lights) and Supplication: Selected Poetry of John Wieners (published by Wave Books). Guest readers Garrett Caples, Michael Seth Stewart, Micah Ballard, Cedar Sigo, Duncan McNaughton, Bill Berkson, and surprise guest reader Diane Di Prima, gather in City Lights’ stuffy basement to share some of Wieners’ most loved pieces and to pay tribute to a master of the form who truly went under-appreciated.

WienersA contributor to Donald Allen’s seminal New American Poetry anthology, John Wieners was on the periphery of many of the twentieth century’s most important avant-garde poetry scenes, from Black Mountain and the Boston Renaissance to the New York School and the SF Renaissance. Having achieved cult status among poets, Wieners has also become known for the compelling nature of his journals, a mixture of early drafts of poems, prose fragments, lists, and other fascinating minutiae of the poet’s imagination. Stars Seen in Person: Selected Journals of John Wieners collects four of his previously unpublished journals from the period between 1955 and 1969. The first journal depicts a young, openly gay, self-described “would-be poet” dashing around bohemian Boston with writer and artist friends, pre-drugs and pre-fame. By the last book, decimated by repeated institutionalizations (the first for drug-related psychosis, the rest the consequence of the first) and personal tragedies, Wieners is broken down and in great pain, but still writing honestly and with detail about the life he’s left with. These journals capture a post-war bohemian world that no longer exists, depicted through the prism of Wieners’ sense of glamour.

John Wieners studied with Charles Olson at Black Mountain College, and later edited the small magazine Measure. He lived for a year and a half in San Francisco, where he wrote his breakthrough book, Hotel Wentley Poems (1958). In the early seventies he settled into an apartment on Boston’s Beacon Hill, where he lived and wrote until his death in 2002.

Michael Seth Stewart lives in New York City. He recently earned his PhD, editing the complete letters of John Wieners. He teaches literature and film studies at Hunter College. He also edited The Sea Under the House: The Correspondence of John Wieners and Charles Olson (Lost & Found).

Advance praise for Stars Seen in Person:

“Like Rimbaud in Season in Hell, or Baudelaire with Intimate Journals, there’s an unguarded spark and trust in John Wieners because impulse and imagination reign supreme. In 1955 he writes, “I shall try the only true thing I want to do. I shall go to my poems.” Predating The Hotel Wentley Poems, moving through Ace of Pentacles, and ushering us into his life before Nerves, Stars Seen in Person further illuminates John as our future/former best unkept secret.”––Micah Ballard

“Thanks to Michael Seth Stewart’s editorial legerdemain, at long last we have the magnificent John Wieners here before us, in his full undressed splendor: poet, stargazer, philosopher, shaman, flâneur, survivor. His journals––an inspiring monument, filled with taut provocations and purple illuminations––are valuable as cultural history, as lyric performance, as uninhibited autobiography, and as a motley, genre-defying epitome of gesamtkunstwerk aesthetic possibilities that seem as fresh and enticing as anything being dreamt up today.”––Wayne Koestenbaum

Nuruddin Farah

On Wednesday, November 19, 2014, City Lights Bookstore hosted an evening with Nuruddin Farah to celebrate the release of Hiding in Plain Sight from Riverhead Books.

Nuruddin_FarahWhen Bella learns of the murder of her beloved half brother by political extremists in Mogadiscio, she’s in Rome. The two had different fathers but shared a Somali mother, from whom Bella’s inherited her freewheeling ways. An internationally known fashion photographer, dazzling but aloof, she comes and goes as she pleases, juggling three lovers. But with her teenage niece and nephew effectively orphaned – their mother abandoned them years ago—she feels an unfamiliar surge of protective feeling. Putting her life on hold, she journeys to Nairobi, where the two are in boarding school, uncertain whether she can—or must—come to their rescue. When their mother resurfaces, reasserting her maternal rights and bringing with her a gale of chaos and confusion that mirror the deepening political instability in the region, Bella has to decide how far she will go to obey the call of sisterly responsibility.
A new departure in theme and setting for “the most important African novelist to emerge in the past twenty-five years” (The New York Review of Books) Hiding in Plain Sight, is a profound exploration of the tensions between freedom and obligation, the ways gender and sexual preference define us, and the unexpected paths by which the political disrupts the personal.

Rebecca Solnit and Peter Turchi

On Language and Place: Rebecca Solnit, in conversation with Peter Turchi, celebrated the release of her novel Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness, and A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic by Peter Turchi, both from Trinity University Press, at City Lights Bookstore.
SolnitRebecca Solnit is beloved as an activist and a passionate writer who speaks truth to power, and as the title of her latest book suggests, the territory of her concerns is vast. In her signature alchemical style, Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness combines commentary on history, justice, war and peace, and explorations of place, art, and community. The 29 essays gathered here encompass celebrated iconic pieces as well as little-known works to create a powerful survey of the world we live in. This rich collection tours places as diverse as Haiti and Iceland; movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring; an original take on the question of who did Henry David Thoreau’s laundry; and a searching look at what the hatred of country music really means.

In A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, turchi-peter-2014-small-1and Magic, Peter Turchi draws out the similarities between writing and puzzle making and its flip side, puzzle solving. As he teases out how mystery lies at the heart of all storytelling, he uncovers the magic—the creation of credible illusion—that writers share with the likes of Houdini and master magicians. Applying this rich backdrop to the requirements of writing, Turchi reveals as much about the human psyche as he does about the literary imagination and the creative process. This much anticipated follow-up to Turchi’s bestselling Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer helps the reader navigate the fine line between the real and the perceived, between the everyday and the wondrous.

Bill Berkson

Bill Berkson read from his new poetry collection, Expect Delays, from Coffee House Press, at City Lights Bookstore, December 2, 2014.

Born in New York inBerkson author photo 1939, Bill Berkson is a poet, critic and professor emeritus at the San Francisco Art Institute, whose previous collection Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems won the Balcones Prize for Best Poetry Book of 2010. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Brooklyn Rail, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology, The New York Poets II, Bay Area Poetics, The i.e. Reader, The Zoland Poetry Annual 2011, Amerarcana, Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology and Nuova Poesia Americana. He now divides his time between San Francisco and Manhattan.

“Like his good friend Frank O’Hara, Bill Berkson writes about friends and family (wife, son, mother on her 100th birthday) and isn’t afraid to drop a few glam names from life in the cities where he lives, in his case San Francisco and New York. In this he resembles Stéphane Mallarmé, who wrote verses on fans (the kind you wave) and notes on fashion, as well as difficult dreamlike poetry. Berkson includes two celesta-toned Mallarmé translations, one of them ‘Brise Marine’: (‘The flesh is sad, alas! And I’ve read all the books’) alongside journalistic patter: ‘Lovers for a time, Lee Wiley and Berigan began appearing/ together on Wiley’s fifteen-minute CBS radio spot,/ Saturday Night Swing Club, in 1936.’ Expect Delays is an all-too-familiar warning to urban Americans. In this case, the delays are as rewarding as the invigorating voyage.—John Ashbery

The Ecstatic Writing of Qiu Miaojin

Ari Larissa Heinrich, in conversation with Scott Esposito, discussed the work of Qui Miaojin, author of Last Words from Montmarter, published by NYRP Classics and translated from the Chinese with an afterward by Ari Larissa Heinrich at City Lights Bookstore.

Qiu_MiaojinWhen the pioneering Taiwanese novelist Qiu Miaojin committed suicide in 1995 at age twenty-six, she left behind her unpublished masterpiece, Last Words from Montmartre. Unfolding through a series of letters written by an unnamed narrator, Last Words tells the story of a passionate relationship between two young women—their sexual awakening, their gradual breakup, and the devastating aftermath of their broken love. In a style that veers between extremes, from self-deprecation to pathos, compulsive repetition to rhapsodic musings, reticence to vulnerability, Qiu’s genre-bending novel is at once a psychological thriller, a sublime romance, and the author’s own suicide note.

The letters (which, Qiu tells us, can be read in any order) leap between Paris, Taipei, and Tokyo. They display wrenching insights into what it means to live between cultures, languages, and genders—until the genderless character Zoë appears, and the narrator’s spiritual and physical identity is transformed. As powerfully raw and transcendent as Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask, Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, and Theresa Cha’s Dictée, to name but a few, Last Words from Montmartre proves Qiu Miaojin to be one of the finest experimentalists and modernist Chinese-language writers of our generation.