Litquake Takes 2020 Festival Online

The literary celebration features author livestreams, digital workshops, and a virtual happy hour.

Litquake, a literary festival and long-time staple for bibliophiles and writing enthusiasts in San Francisco, returns, bringing with it some much-needed (virtual) community and creativity. 

“We all love Netflix of course, but this is a chance to sit down and spend some quality time with favorite authors,” Jane Ganahl, Litquake cofounder, said in a press release. “Or if you prefer, stand and prepare dinner with a glass of wine and the screen of your choice nearby angled just right.”

This online version of Litquake will be longer than its in-person predecessors. It is scheduled to span 16 days, from Oct. 8 to 24, and includes programming specifically made for kids — Kidquake! With 60 events, and 150 authors, the line-up is stacked with plenty of up-and-coming talent as well as local literary celebrities — like Amy Tan (Joy Luck Club), Lemony Snicket (also known by his real name, Daniel Handler, A Series of Unfortunate Events), and Tommy Orange (There There).

Those who enjoy pairing booze with their books will be relieved to know that Litquake is doing its best to recreate their beloved bar hopping event. While the Lit Crawl won’t be careening across the Mission District on the final day of this year’s festival, there will be a 12-hour-long, global virtual party.

It can get a bit overwhelming — absolutely — but that’s why we’re here to recommend just a few panels that caught our eye. All of these events are free, but a suggested donation of $5 to $10 would be greatly appreciated.

Every Day We Get More Illegal
Sat, Oct. 10, 5-6:15 p.m., RSVP

Juan Felipe Herrera’s new poetry collection, Every Day We Get More Illegal, was written during and immediately after Herrera’s time as the 21st United States Poet Laureate. Herrera will be joined by Jericho Brown, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, sharing deeply illuminating and transcendent works on the “many textures of every day in America.”

Sun, Oct. 11, 7-8:15 p.m., RSVP

Obi Kaufmann, the watercolor artist and writer known for The California Field Atlas, will be celebrating the release of his latest book, The Forests of California. Presenting his work with California College of the Arts’s Writing Chair, Leslie Carol Roberts, Kaufmann will share images and illustrations of California’s natural landscapes.

You, Me, and Everyone We’ve Boned
Tue, Oct. 13, 5-6:15 p.m., RSVP

“Love in the time of corona” is more than a Freeform mini series or a semi-promising newspaper column. It’s also the theme of this reading, which focuses on how queer writers and writers of color find or explore love in the worst of times. The line-up includes Jayy Dodd (former Lambda Literary fellow), Maurisa Thompson (a San Francisco born-and-raised poet), Lauren Wheeler (Black Nerd Problems contributor), Baruch Porras-Hernandez (I Miss You author), and Brandon Young (Seattle-based spoken word artist).

The Legacy of Native American Poetry
Wed, Oct. 14, 5-6:15 p.m., RSVP

U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo will be launching When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, an anthology that chronicles poetry written by indigenous artists in North America. Harjo will be joined by contributing editor and poet Jennifer Foerster. Together, they’ll celebrate this history-making collection with a live discussion and reading.

Good Things in Small Packages
Wed, Oct. 14, 7-8:15 p.m., RSVP

This event comes with a syllabus, but don’t worry — “homework” is optional. Yalitza Ferreras (a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University), Rachel Khong (founder of The Ruby, a collective for women and nonbinary writers and artists), Mimi Lok (Last of Her Name author), Shruti Swamy (A House Is a Body author), and C Pam Zhang (How Much of These Hills is Gold author) join forces for a lesson on writing short stories. They’ll share their ways of tackling fiction in small(er) forms, and recommend some reading.

The Son of Good Fortune
Lysley Tenorio with Daniel Handler
Fri, Oct. 16, 7-8:15 p.m., RSVP

It feels especially lucky to hear from these two San Francisco writers. Lysley Tenorio celebrates his debut novel, The Son of Good Fortune, with A Series of Unfortunate Events author Daniel Handler (code name: Lemony Snicket). The Son of Good Fortune revolves around an undocumented Filipino teenager named Excel who hangs out in the spy-themed pizza shop where he works, and in local cemeteries with his girlfriend. His mother, a former B-movie actress, scams men online for a living, and the novel follows this mother-son relationship, and the challenges they endure.

Feminist Writers and the Climate Emergency
Tue, Oct. 20, 7-8:15 p.m., RSVP

It’s pretty obvious that we’re in the middle of a climate catastrophe. But how does writing and feminism fit into the solution? The Daily Dose, a blog focusing on the Green New Deal and intersections of climate, social, and racial justice, will be discussing “writing-as-climate-activism” — and what it means for our collective futures. Aya de León, Vijaya Nagarajan, Mary DeMocker, Elizabeth Stark, and Susan DeFreitas hope to “save the world” before it collapses. 

Full schedule here.


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