Books newsletter: It’s Festival of Books weekend!

Books Editor

Welcome to the L.A. Times Books newsletter! I’m books editor Carolyn Kellogg and I’m really excited for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend. What you’ll find in our book section in print and online this week (and last!) are all stories dedicated to the authors coming to the festival.


Mexican American author Luis Alberto Urrea will be at the festival on Sunday with his new novel, “The House of Broken Angels.” He talked to writer Mark Athitakis about how it was inspired partly by the death of his half-brother, and partly by Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric: “It’s time to represent.”

Author Luis Alberto Urrea will be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Sunday.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times )


Alexander Chee’s new book just published Tuesday. He spoke to writer Tyler Malone about how he came to write “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel” (it’s actually an essay collection). Chee will be at the Festival of Books on Saturday and Sunday, the latter with fellow critic at large Viet Thanh Nguyen.

John Scalzi’s new book also just published Tuesday; it’s called “Head On” and is a sequel to his bestselling novel “Lock In.” We’ll have more about the book later, but you can get the jump by coming to see him at the Festival of Books on Sunday, where he’ll be in conversation with actor Wil Wheaton, who voiced the audiobook.

On Saturday, Rebecca Carroll will moderate the panel Black Girl Magic with our Innovator’s Award winner Glory Edim of Well-Read Black Girl and cultural critics Ijeoma Oluo, whose book is “So You Want to Talk About Race,” and Morgan Jerkins, author of “This Will Be My Undoing.” On Sunday, Carroll sits down with author Tayari Jones to talk about her bestselling novel, “An American Marriage.”

David Kipen, founder of the Libros Schmibros lending library in Boyle Heights, will be interviewing journalist Jorge Ramos about his new book, “Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era” on Saturday. In Sunday’s paper, Kipen looks back at the literature of El Segundo, future home of the Los Angeles Times.

If you’ve got tickets to see Susan Straight on the panel “The Art of the Short Story” with Elizabeth Crane Brandt, Scott O’Connor and Daniel Olivas, you’re in luck — it’s sold out. But take heart — even panels that are technically sold out often have room for the people in the standby line.

There are still tickets available to see Laila Lalami interview Ngugi wa Thiong’o about his prison memoir, “Wrestling With the Devil.” If you ask me which discussion you shouldn’t miss, it’s this. Thiong’o is a master craftsman and the discussion will cover his own story, and, Lalami promised on Twitter, writing, repression, resistance and survival.


Tickets to all panels are available here; to find exactly what you need, you may want to consult the schedule.

Critic at large Laila Lalami will interview Ngugi wa Thiong'o.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times )


One favorite on the bestseller list is “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones, now in its ninth week on our fiction bestseller list. Jones, as mentioned above, comes to the book festival on Sunday.

Another is “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer” by Michelle McNamara. After McNamara died unexpectedly, the book was brought to publication by her widower, performer Patton Oswalt. There are still tickets available to see him talk about the book with me at the Festival of Books on Sunday.

You can find all the books on our bestseller lists here.

Patton Oswalt and Michelle McNamara in 2012
(Matt Sayles / AP )


If I have one piece of advice for having the best festival experience, it’s this: Look up. I am chronically looking at my phone, even when I’m walking down the street. If you don’t do that — if you look up and around you this weekend — you’ll find food trucks and booths selling books and other items, you’ll see a poet reading in the distance, a crowd of people under a tent, a line queued up for something — what? — and maybe spot a green space to sit and read a book. It’s a great time and space to explore. Hope to see you at the 2018 Festival of Books.

Keep reading!