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Pasadena's writer-driven LitFest gets bigger this Saturday

AuthorsArts and CultureLiteratureJonathan Gold

If Los Angeles can have a book festival -- the just-concluded Los Angeles Times Festival of Books -- and even the suburb of nearby Duarte (pop. 21,000) can have one, why not Pasadena?

Pasadena is famous for the Rose Parade, Caltech and Jackie Robinson, among other things, but the city of 137,000 also has its own proud literary tradition, as the writer Larry Wilson recently reminded us.

“From James M. Cain's ‘Mildred Pierce’ to Raymond Chandler's ‘The High Window,’ from John Ball's Virgil Tibbs mysteries including ‘In the Heat of the Night’ to Meggs Brown's macabre murder mystery ‘Saturday Games,’… plenty of novels and short stories have been set in Pasadena,”  Wilson wrote recently in the Pasadena Star News.

This Saturday, Pasadena will host the second annual LitFest Pasadena, in Pasadena’s Central Park. Mona Simpson, Michelle Huneven, Reyna Grande and Times’ food critic Jonathan Gold will be among the authors present.

Three writers are the driving force behind the event: Gold, Wilson (the public editor at the Star News), and novelist Jervey Tervalon.

“Litfest Pasadena just seemed necessary in a city like Pasadena with all of our writers, artists and scientists and our amazing cultural and ethnic diversity,” Tervalon said. “Larry Wilson, Jonathan Gold and I met with Mayor Bill Bogaard three years ago to explain our plan … and he said go for it. We've been working hard to put on a great literary festival, but our goal is to have a transformative event that serves as a resource for our entire community.”

This year’s event will feature more than 70 writers, all packed into a single day and a single park, including several local authors with novels released this year, such as Alex Espinoza (“The Five Acts of Diego Leon”) and Marisa Silver (“Mary Coin.”)

Gold will participate in a 1 p.m. conversation called "How the San Gabriel Valley Became the Western -- and Maybe the Eastern -- Capital of Chinese Cuisine" with the "626 Foodettes," Clarissa Wei and Kristie Hang.

The event is sponsored by the Pasadena Arts Council, the Pasadena-based poetry publisher Red Hen Press and many other groups.

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hector.tobar@latimes.com

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