Books: Festival of Books preview with Junot Diaz, Lawrence Wright, Lucy Jones and more

Books Editor

Hi, I’m books editor Carolyn Kellogg. I’m writing this after the L.A. Times met our soon-to-be owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong on Friday and I am looking forward to the new era at our paper. I caught up with him afterward and invited him to the L.A. Times Festival of Books next weekend. I don’t know if he’ll be able to make it, but I hope you will join us.


The Festival of Books is April 21-22 on the campus of USC, and in our pages this week, we highlight a number of authors who will be coming to the festival. They include:


Lawrence Wright, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his book “The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (he helped produce the Hulu series) and whose forthcoming book is “God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State” — he sees Texas and California as kind of mirror twins. He’ll be talking to The Times’ deputy managing editor Scott Kraft on Saturday.

Author Junot Díaz also won a Pulitzer Prize (for his novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”), and while he’s previously written only for adults, he takes a new turn with his latest, “Islandborn,” an illustrated picture book for kids. He talked to Vera Castaneda about his sources of inspiration, lack of representation and his own immigrant experience. He’ll be at the Festival of Books on both Saturday and Sunday.

Glory Edim has something in common with many of us, I think — she’s a reader first (although now she also has a book deal). Edim is the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, a book club that’s more than a book club and the winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize’s Innovator’s Award. Read about how books, and a T-shirt, changed her life and have led to her changing others’ lives, and see her at the book prizes Friday night and at the festival on Saturday.

Tickets for these panels and the rest go on sale April 15. Most are free with a $2 processing fee.

Glory Edim is the founder of the book club Well-Read Black Girl.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times )


What book changed your life? Tell us in this online form — you can even upload a picture, and include the book if you like — and you might see your answer online next week.

Books have the power to turn your thinking and your world around.
(Mandi Wright / Associated Press )


Now in its fourth week on the fiction bestseller list is “The House of Broken Angels” by Luis Alberto Urrea; it’s at No. 9. Urrea will be at the Festival of Books on April 22 — look for our conversation with him in next week’s book section.

Also at No. 9 but on the nonfiction bestseller list is “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer” by Michelle McNamara, now in its fifth week. After McNamara died unexpectedly, the book was brought to publication by her widower, Patton Oswalt. I’ll be talking to him about the book (which is terrific and scary) and whatever else he wants at the book festival on April 22.

See all the books on our bestseller lists here.

Luis Alberto Urrea's novel "The House of Broken Angels" is in its fourth week on the L.A. Times bestseller list.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times )


We talk to Lucy Jones, the world’s leading seismologist, about her new book “The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them).”

Beloved kids author Rick Riordan (the Percy Jackson series) comes to the festival with Roshani Chokshi, whose new book “Aru Shah and the End of Time” is on Riordan’s new imprint. Gwenda Bond talks to them about it.

James Beard-nominated chef Edward Lee, who you’ll definitely recognize from TV, tells us about traveling around America to eat with immigrant cooks in unexpected places for his new book, “Buttermilk Graffiti.”

In this moving essay, critic at large Susan Straight examines writing about love and death.

Mark Athitakis reviews “Acid West” by Joshua Wheeler, an essay collection about misunderstood New Mexico.

We talk to Benjamin Taylor about his memoir, “The Hue and Cry at Our House,” winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize’s Isherwood Prize for autobiographical prose.

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera talks to Steve Saldivar about his new poetry book for young people, “Jabberwalking,” and about the experience of being poet laureate.

Poet Juan Felipe Herrera will appear at the L.A. Times' Festival of Books on Saturday and Sunday.
(Tomas Ovalle / For The Times )

These are just a sample of the hundreds of authors who will be participating in the Festival of Books, in conversation, at readings and signings. You’ll see the complete list, and fold-out schedule, if you get this Sunday’s print edition, which includes the Festival of Books special section. If you don’t get the paper in print, don’t worry — we’ll have lots of copies of the special section for free at the Festival of Books to help you find your way around.

See you next weekend!