That’s it for the 2017 Festival of Books. See you next year
Keep reading! And we’ll see you at the next Festival of Books.
Until next year
Watch: Cheech Marin talks about his book, the 1992 L.A. riots and more
The Times’ Carolina A. Miranda interviews Cheech Marin on Facebook Live.
A little dancing as the festival winds down
La Chamba Cumbia Chicha has people dancing in the late-afternoon sun.
Book lovers write headlines
A photo booth at the Festival of Books allowed attendees to try out headline writing. Here are a few of my favorites.
Hardly! Scroll through the blog to see scenes and stories from the weekend’s events at USC. In non-festival news, there was a major election in France.
I have a hunch about where to start the search. (USC.)
Impressive. I bet that pup has a real command -- sit, stay, shake -- of the English language.
She created two front pages. The first: “I like big books.”
Margaret Atwood meets ‘the handmaids’
At least one panel attendee wondered why Margaret Atwood was a little behind schedule on Sunday.
This would appear to be the answer:
Watch: Margaret Atwood says America shouldn’t get too depressed yet
Margaret Atwood sat down to talk with our Facebook Live audience about the new Hulu adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the meaning of feminism, the important of science, and why America shouldn’t get too depressed about Trump just yet.
Chris Hayes discusses his new book ‘A Colony in a Nation’
Festival-goers who attended MSNBC host Chris Hayes’ discussion with Christina Bellantoni, The Times’ assistant managing editor for politics, took to social media to relay some notable quotations from the author and photos.
Hayes seemed to enjoy the festival too.
Wait, there’s more! Margaret Atwood, Diversity in Hollywood and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o coming up next
The weekend’s not over yet! Still on the agenda:
- 2 p.m. Young adult fantasy with Marie Lu, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White and Victoria Aveyard at Taper Hall
- 2 p.m. Head over to the Children’s Stage for “The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors”
- 2:30 p.m. “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been adapted for T.V. and Margaret Atwood is here to talk about it.
- 3 p.m. A discussion about “Poetry in the Present Moment” at the Annenberg Auditiorium.
- 3 p.m. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o in conversation with Rebecca Carroll
- 3:30 p.m. “What’s Up With America” with “Dark Money” Author Jane Meyer and more.
- 3:40 p.m. Discussing “Diversity in Hollywood at L.A. Times Central.
This cave is full of glowworms
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves in New Zealand are among the many marvels found in the wildly popular book “Atlas Obscura.” Co-editor Joshua Foer will be among the panelists discussing The New Coffee Table Book at 3:30 p.m.
Crime fiction, romance and the future of the NEA coming up at #bookfest
From crime to romance to other topics:
- 1:20 p.m. Actor Stephen Tobolowsky in conversation with Sarah Rodman on the Los Angeles Times Main Stage
- 1:30 p.m. Ace Atkins, Gina Wohlsdorf, Mette Ivie Harrison and Melissa Scrivner Love join the ominously named crime fiction panel Trust No One
- 1:30 p.m. Romance novels more your thing? The panel I’m Too Sexy for This Book takes over the Annenberg Auditorium
- 1:30 p.m. The panel Is This Goodbye, NEA? Let’s hope not. Anita Dashiell-Sparks, Rachel Moore and Viet Thanh Nguyen address our fears.
Trio Ellas brings the strings and the harmony to the USC Stage on Sunday.
Hungry? So is Jessica Koslow
Join Jessica Koslow, Sqirl owner and the author of “Everything I Want to Eat,” for a demonstration at the Cooking Stage at 2 p.m.
It’s a packed house for Steve Lopez and Michael Hiltzik
And the columnists must have had the same thought about today’s sunny weather.
Attendance for events at The Times’ stage has been healthy, deputy politics editor Julie Westfall reports. She moderated a panel on “Storytelling in the Age of Trump” before another brimming crowd.
One attendee at that panel asked how The Times can cultivate trust with readers who are disinclined to trust mainstream media sources, Westfall said.
Len DeGroot, director of data visualization, said that the paper doesn’t seek to persuade people, but seeks to inform, Westfall said. And especially with data projects, Times journalists try to be transparent about their sources. That way a skeptical reader can check the journalists’ work.
Find Cheech Marin at 2:30 p.m. on the Los Angeles Times Main Stage
Pay a visit to the Pacific Palisades home of actor and comedian Cheech Marin and you may find yourself holed up in the bathroom, in the company of your affable host, having an impassioned conversation about painting.
Marin, an avid collector, has dozens of artworks dotting every corner of his hilltop home. There are canvases by Patssi Valdez in the hallway, an oversized painting of a Madonna by George Yepes in the foyer and, in the guest bathroom — where Marin has led a small clutch of guests — a series of surreal etchings by the late Los Angeles painter Carlos Almaraz.
“These are very rare,” says Marin, gesturing at a print in which a trio of feline heads float before a custard-colored sky. “The color, the way he captures these figures, the city, it’s the bomb.”
Marin is a singular type of Renaissance man.
Coming up: Chris Hayes, Marlon James and more
So many great events coming up! On the agenda:
- 12:10 p.m. Matthew Espinosa takes the L.A. Times Main Stage
- 12:10 p.m. Steve Lopez talks to Michael Hiltzik
- 12:30 p.m. Roads Less Traveled panel with Shanti Sekaran, Natashia Deon and Janie Chang
- 12:30 p.m. Chris Hayes in conversation with Christina Bellantoni at Bovard Auditorium
- 12:30 p.m. Marlon James, pictured above, in conversation with Davan Maharaj at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center
Even Margaret Atwood is tweeting about the new ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ adaptation
And a viral marketing stunt Sunday had festivalgoers and authors buzzing about an upcoming TV adaptation of Atwood’s novel. Two rows of women -- wearing red dresses and white bonnets -- were spotted walking the USC campus.
Hayes is the author of “A Colony in a Nation” and will speak with The Times’ Christina Bellantoni at 12:30 p.m.
Atwood will be in Bovard Auditorium with T.V. producer Bruce Miller at 3:00 p.m. discussing her book’s journey from page to screen.
Johnathan Lethem appears at the Norris Theater at 1:30 p.m.
Writer Jonathan Lethem is best known as a novelist. His books “The Fortress of Solitude,” “Dissident Gardens” and “Chronic City” have wowed audiences and critics alike. But the focus on the novels, though warranted, allows too many to overlook his criticism. His first collection, “The Ecstasy of Influence,” revealed that his nonfiction follows the trajectory of his fiction — that is, toward nuance, paradox and what he calls “apertures.”
Remember that time the Cubs won the World Series?
So does Scott Simon. He’ll be discussing his book “My Cubs: A Love Story” with Todd Martin at noon at the Norris Theater.
Sunday’s festivities get going with help from the USC marching band
Illustrator and life-hacker Yumi Sakugawa returns for day two of #bookfest
If you missed Yumi Sakugawa on Saturday, you’ve got another chance to catch her Sunday: Head to “The Home DIY Revolution” at the Annenberg Auditorium at noon to hear more about “The Little Book of Life Hacks.”
Morgan Parker, Kevin Smokler, Tom Tomorrow and more coming soon
Welcome back for Day 2 of #bookfest. Here’s what’s up next:
- 10:30 a.m. Jason Diamond, Kevin Smokler and Simon Roy talk pop culture on the panel Pop Goes the World.
- 10:30 a.m. Drawing the Lines with political cartoonists Tom Tomorrow, David Horsey and Berkeley Breathed
- 10:30 a.m. L.A. really is more than just strip malls; discover more at the Architecture of Iconic Los Angeles panel
- 10:40 a.m. Find Morgan Parker, author of “There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé,” on the Poetry Stage
Jason Diamond searches for John Hughes on book tour
There was one night when I was in Chicago on the book tour. It was after the book release, and I walked past this old movie theater, and they were showing “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” [which Hughes wrote and produced] and I was like, “How many times am I going to be able to say that I’m in my hometown, it’s snowing out, and I just did my book release party, and I got a couple hours to kill, I’m going to see this movie.” It was actually weirdly emotional to see Chevy Chase, which, you know, you should never get emotional about Chevy Chase.
Find Diamond and fellow pop enthusiasts at the Pop Goes the World panel at 10:30 a.m.
The power of activism and culture
On the same Saturday when thousands of people participated in the March for Science in downtown Los Angeles and around the world, book lovers also communed nearby at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books for the Activist on the Front Lines panel.
Matt Pearce, moderator and national reporter for The Times, delved into the activism experiences of each of the four authors: Cleve Jones, L.A. Kauffman, Wesley Lowery and Ron Kovic. One of the many topics discussed rested on the power of creating activism narratives to be known and understood.
Jones, an LGBTQ and labor activist, was depicted by Emile Hirsch in the movie “Milk.” In his experiences working with people, he found that many people didn’t know who Harvey Milk was until the movie was released.
“Most Americans don’t read what you read. If you are truly about changing the hearts of citizens, we need to be better about using popular culture,” said Jones.
Kovic, who fought in the Vietnam War and became a leading antiwar activist, wrote about those experiences in his bestselling memoir “Born on the Fourth of July” (and was co-screenwriter of the film adaptation) and other books. He agreed with Jones.
“I’ll always believe in literature but when you combine literature with film it is even more powerful,” said Kovic.
Kauffman, organizer and movement journalist for more than 30 years, pointed out how it could be difficult for a journalist to cover newer movements.
“There has been a broad shift away from the model of leadership. The movements that have sprung up tend to have a multiplicity of leaders, so it can be hard for a journalist and others to see what is going on. That landscape can be hard to get a handle on,” said Kauffman. “But if you look closely there are so many close ties. It really is a network.”
Lowery, a Washington Post reporter and the 2017 winner of the L.A. Times Christopher Isherwood prize for autobiographical prose for his book “They Can’t Kill Us All” about Ferguson, Mo., and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, gave his take on the role of a journalist.
“The news has been democratized. People can give direct and immediate feedback. It also complicates the role of media and it sharpens the need for [a journalist] in the role of verification.”
Steve Jones, Sex Pistol, on the Los Angeles Times Main Stage at 3:40 p.m.
How civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis became a comic book writer
Rep. John Lewis was greeted with a standing ovation on Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
Lewis, co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell took turns center stage sharing stories about the making of “March,” the graphic memoir trilogy based on Lewis’ life in Alabama and the civil rights movement.
Aydin is also the digital director of Lewis’ congressional district, a job he describes as “tweet[ing] for a living.” When asked how to inspire young people, his answer was to write a comic book.
“When you finally meet [a good person] and work for one, you know you have to do something special to tell their story,” said Aydin.
Lewis was inspired by “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story,” a comic book published in 1957. He intended to create the same inspiration for a younger generation by writing a comic book.
“We’ve made too much progress. We’ve gone too far and we are not going back,” said Lewis. “The ‘March’ series will inspire a new generation of people. They must understand that they will be the leaders of the 21st century. Maybe we can serve as a model.”
“March: Book Three” won the National Book Award in November.
In the book, Powell emphasized the role of young people in the civil rights movement when approaching how to illustrate Lewis’ story. He also did not shy away from depicting the violence.
“You have a responsibility to depict these acts of violence because there is a sense of urgency. They could have been your friends and family,” said Powell.
For Lewis and Aydin, publishing the trilogy and attending book signings have been full-circle moments.
As a child, Lewis was told by a librarian in Troy, Ala., that library cards are for whites only. He never went back to that local library until the “March” book signing.
For another book signing stop, Aydin went back to his school where he got in trouble for reading comic books in his English class. He had a conversation with an English teacher, who once said comic books aren’t real books, about how “March” is being used in schools to teach students about the civil rights movement.
“If this is your first comic, welcome. Please don’t let it end there,” said Powell.
Clinton Kelly on the Los Angeles Times Main Stage at 11 a.m.
Ben Ehrenreich appears on the panel ‘Humanizing Conflict’ at noon
The way to the spring… is blocked. At least that’s the case for the Palestinians of Nabi Saleh, a small village northwest of Ramallah. The expansion-minded residents of a nearby Jewish settlement, with the aid of the Israeli army that occupies the West Bank, have taken over the town’s water source, which Palestinian farmers depended on to irrigate their fields.
Ben Ehrenreich, an award-winning writer based in Los Angeles, discovered as much when he moved to the West Bank, which Israel captured from Jordan in a war with its Arab neighbors in 1967. Ehrenreich, who lived in that troubled land intermittently between 2011 and 2014 (in part, reporting for Harper’s and the New York Times Magazine), demonstrates that Nabi Saleh is no anomaly. “The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine” emerges as a sobering, iconoclastic “collection of stories about resistance, and about people who resist,” marred slightly by the author’s unwillingness to subject Palestinian militant activity, which has often included terrorism, to moral scrutiny.
Hooray for Hollywood!
Will Kenneth Turan, Jon Lewis, Glenn Frankel and Karen Maness break into song during their panel “Hooray for Classic Hollywood” at 10:30 a.m.? There’s one way to find out...
Viet Thanh Nguyen, on stage at 11 a.m., on becoming a writer
Almost exactly 20 years ago, I arrived in Los Angeles in the month of June. I had received my doctorate from UC Berkeley in May and had turned 26 in February. That summer, I found a small apartment in Silver Lake and began preparing for a new career as a professor at USC. I look back on myself with bemusement and sympathy, for there were many things I did not know when I was 26. My naiveté protected me when I sat down to write at my small kitchen table and in that hot, stifling, first summer in Los Angeles and began a short story collection. If I had known that it would take me 17 years to finish that collection, and three more years to publish it, perhaps I never would have even begun.
Book editor Carolyn Kellogg: My picks for Sunday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
If you want some great fiction, you can’t go wrong with Fiction: Disappearing Acts on Sunday at 11 a.m. The panel, moderated by writer Mary Otis, features the novelists Edan Lepucki, author of the bestselling “California” whose “Woman No. 17” comes out in two weeks; Amy Gentry, author of “Good as Gone,” which came out in January; Lydia Millet, whose “Sweet Lamb of Heaven” was longlisted for the National Book Award; our critic at large Alexander Chee, talking about his book “The Queen of the Night.”
Speaking of our critics at large, you can find more of them on Sunday: Viet Thanh Nguyen and Laiala Lalami in conversation at 11 a.m.; at 12:30 p.m., Marlon James in conversation with Times Editor and Publisher Davan Maharaj at 12:30 pm.; John Scalzi in conversation with Cory Doctorow at 1:30 p.m.; and at 3 p.m., Rebecca Carroll will interview Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, always rumored to be in serious contention for the Nobel Prize in literature; and also at 3 p.m., Susan Straight will join Steve Lopez, with Steven P. Wallace and Susan B. Geffen, for a conversation about California’s hidden poor.
For great nonfiction, here are some can’t-miss ideas:
The 10:30 a.m. panel Police, Prisons and Justice with Gary Younge, author of “Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives”; Victor Rios, author of “Human Targets: Schools, Police, and the Criminalization of Latino Youth”; Heather Ann Thompson, author of “Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy”; and Les Klinger, co-editor of “Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted,” moderated by Margot Roosevelt.
At noon, the panel Nonfiction: Lost Stories of the West will feature four writers: Tim Hernandez, whose book “All They Will Call You” tells the story of a California plane crash and the Mexican farmworkers who were erased from its history; Kimball Taylor, author of “The Coyote’s Bicycle: The Untold Story of 7000 Bicycles and the Rise of a Borderland Empire”; Gabriel Thompson, author of “America’s Social Arsonist,” a biography of Fred Roos; and Christine Pelisek previewing her book “The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women of South Central,” which hits shelves in June, moderated by Miriam Pawell.
Chris Hayes of MSNBC, whose new book is “A Colony in a Nation,” will be talking to The Times’ Christina Bellantoni at 12:30 p.m.
And at 3:30, the panel Nonfiction: What’s Up With America features book prize finalist Jane Mayer with her book “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right”; Jeff Chang, author of “We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation”; James Poulos and his book “The Art of Being Free: How Alexis de Tocqueville Can Save Us from Ourselves”; and Mugambi Jouet, author of “Exceptional America: What Divides Americans From the World and Each Other,” moderated by Dinah Lenney.
And last but not least, the panel I’m most likely to attend, if I’m still standing: Nonfiction: The Culture of Southern California with Josh Kun, Gustavo Arellano and David L. Ulin, moderated by The Times’ Carolina Miranda. It starts at 3:30 p.m.
See you at the festival!
Bryan Cranston used to assemble papers for the L.A. Times
Bryan Cranston on his old job assembling papers for the L.A. Times
“Breaking Bad” actor Bryan Cranston’s history with the Los Angeles Times began long before he became a best-selling author.
“I and a friend of mine were in charge of folding the big Sunday paper that used to be enormous at the time,” said Cranston, who wrote “A Life in Parts.” “We used to put all the pieces together and put it in a machine called the Beast.”
He would arrive at 10 p.m. Saturday and wouldn’t leave until sunrise.
Once he even went with a co-worker to deliver the paper.
How’s that for dedication?
Why a civil rights icon chose to tell his story in the form of a comic book
A packed house greeted civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis and his co-authors of the “March” trilogy, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, at Bovard Auditorium on Saturday afternoon.
Their graphic novel “March: Book Three,” which is based on Lewis’ life, is a finalist for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Young Adult Literature.
So, why a comic book?
Aydin, who works as Lewis’ digital director and policy advisor, grew up reading comic books and felt that the medium was an effective way to bring a new generation into Lewis’ story.
“When you’re a kid and you don’t have much to see in terms of good people ... when you finally meet one and work for one, you know you have to do something special to tell his story,” Aydin said.
As a young man, Rep. Lewis was inspired by the 1950s comic book, “Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story,” to join the civil rights movement. He went on to organize sit-ins and participated in the Freedom Rides.
Lewis hopes his experiences in the book will inspire others to continue the fight.
“We’ve made too much progress. We’ve gone too far, and we are not going back,” he said. “They must understand that they will be the leaders of the 21st century. Maybe we can serve as a model.”
John Scalzi, in conversation with Cory Doctorow at Town & Gown at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, gets real about book tours
This weekend I’m at the L.A. Times Festival of Books — one of my favorite literary events of the year, and I’m not just saying that because The Times pays me to be a critic at large — and my stop here is only part of a long book tour that takes me from Boston to Houston to Seattle to Los Angeles and beyond.
For those of you on the other side of the tour, the ones who come to see us at our events and stops, it can seem like a pretty sweet gig. We show up, people are happy to see us, we sign books and take pictures. Easy, yes? Sure! Once! But when you do a full tour, it begins to be work — actual work. So for everyone who’s never been on book tour, here are some things about touring you might not have known.
The only thing better than books? Books about cats and dogs
Seth Casteel, the photographer behind the blissfully self-explanatory book “Underwater Dogs” and his latest, a cat book called “Pounce,” joins Thomas McNamee, Lauren Fern Watt and David Elliot Cohen for the panel “Raining Cats and Dogs” at 4:30 p.m. at the Annenberg Auditorium. This Instagram says it all.
Coming up this hour: talking publishing, YA writers and a conversation between Alexander Chee and Roxane Gay
Get a peek behind the curtain of the publishing world at 4:30 with executive editor of the National Book Foundation Lisa Lucas, agent Bonnie Nadell, Sean McDonald from MCD/FSG and Zyzzyva editor Oscar Villalon on the panel “Writing and Publishing: Breaking In & Then Some.” Also up next:
- 4:30 p.m. “Young Adult Fantasy: With Great Power...” on the YA Stage
- 4:30 p.m. Roxanne Gay in conversation with critic-at-large Alexander Chee at Bovard Auditorium
- 4:30 p.m. “Listen Up New York: Latino Readers & Writers Have Something to Say” with critic-at-large Rigoberto Gonzalez and Book Prize Innovator’s Award winner Rueben Martinez.
Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis is still committed to fighting the good fight
Coming up in the next hour: T.C. Boyle, Hannah Hart and fake news
YouTube celebrity Hannah Hart sits down with L.A. Times TV editor Sarah Rodman to discuss her book “Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded” at 2:30 p.m. on the L.A. Times Main Stage. Also ahead this hour:
- 2:30 p.m. “Trumponomics: California Business Under the New Political Order” with David Lazarus and more at the L.A. Times Central Stage
- 3 p.m. T.C. Boyle appears at Town & Gown with an introduction by Alexander Nazaryan
- 3 p.m. Brian Won, Karen Winnick and Barbara Bottner will be in the Annenberg Auditorium for the panel “Tell Me a Story: The Art of Children’s books”
- 3 p.m. “Truth Matters: Media in the Age of Fake News and Alternative Facts” at Wallis Annenberg Hall
Keith Morris, Ayesha Curry and more coming up
If you’ve been following along with the California bucket list, Saturday at 2:15 p.m. on the Travel & Wellness Stage is your chance to hear about more hidden gems. Also on the agenda:
- 2 p.m. Sarah Kuhn, Seanan McGuire, Ellen Klages and Becky Chambers discuss sci-fi and fantasy from all angles at Hoffman Hall
- 2 p.m. Keith Morris, Michelle Cruz Gonzales, Scott Crawford and John Joseph talk about “Surviving Punk Rock”
- 2 p.m. Ayesha Curry, author of “The Seasoned Life,” gives a demonstration from the Cooking Stage
Popular booth hands out free English copies of the Koran
A popular booth at the festival was an educational one hosted by the Islamic Circle of North America. Festival-goers could pick up free English copies of the Koran, try on a hijab or talk to practicing Muslims about their faith.
FOR THE RECORD
12:45 p.m., April 24: A previous version of this report stated that the booth was hosted by the Islamic Society of North America. The group is the Islamic Circle of North America.
Booth coordinator Albert Tampi said the society has hosted a booth for more than 10 years, and that it’s always well attended. He said interest seemed particularly high this year.
“There’s so many misconceptions about Islam,” Tampi said. “People are curious.”
Tampi said the center’s mission was to inform the public, not proselytize. He expected to give out about 2,000 Korans over the weekend.
Bryan Cranston spills all of his ‘intimate secrets’ in his memoir
Tommy Trojan and USC Marching Band help kick off the festival
Justin Dearborn, CEO of Tronc Inc., parent of The Times, joined USC President C.L. Max Nikias and recipients of the Read On! Teacher Salute award at the Festival of Books kickoff.
She lives in Coachella, but she’s at the Festival of Books
Zoraida Pimentel and her two daughters, Jasmine, 12, and Jackeline, 10, left their home in Coachella at 7 a.m. to attend the festival. They came on a bus with a group from the girls’ school, Coral Mountain Academy, whose librarian had organized the trip.
Pimentel was already excited about her first purchase -- for $5 -- a hard-cover coffee table look back by Life magazine at John F. Kennedy 50 years after his death.
“His life was so fascinating,” she said.
Her daughters were more interested in fiction -- John Grisham for Jasmine and “Wimpy Kid” and “Dork Diaries” for Jackeline.
Even rock stars have moms: Dave and Virginia Grohl
Virginia Grohl, author of “From Cradle to Stage,” stories from mothers who raised rock stars, will be in conversation with her own rock-star son, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana), on the L.A. Times Main Stage at 3:40 p.m.
Festival of Books gets underway
The 22nd annual L.A. Times Festival of Books officially got underway Saturday morning with a performance by the USC Trojan Marching Band, which got festivalgoers dancing and cheering to a rendition of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” and, of course, “Fight On,” among others.
Justin Dearborn, chief executive of Tronc Inc., The Times’ parent company, and USC President C.L. Max Nikias delivered opening remarks.
“There is no better place to host this festival than the USC campus,” said Nikias, noting that USC and the L.A. Times are the two oldest surviving nonreligious institutions in the city, with USC having been founded in 1880 and The Times in 1881.
UCLA hosted the festival for 15 years, but it was moved to USC in 2011.
About 200 people gathered around USC’s main stage for the kickoff event at 10 a.m., already sweating from 80-degree heat and fierce sunshine. Temperatures were expected to approach 90 later in the day.
Joon-Ho Choi, an architecture professor at USC, came with his wife and three kids, ages 7, 7 and 5. He wanted his children to see the band and get introduced to new books, he said.
“The kids’ section is the most interesting,” Choi said. “And the travel guide section.”
Rep. John Lewis, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, George Saunders, Lindy West and more coming up
It’s a busy time at the Festival of Books: So many great people to see:
- Noon Chuck Palahniuk talks with BuzzFeed books editor Isaac Fitzgerald in Town & Gown
- Noon George Saunders is in conversation with L.A. Times book editor Carolyn Kellogg
- 12:10 p.m. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sits down with L.A. Times editor-in-chief Davan Maharaj
- 12:30 p.m. Congressman John Lewis and co-authors of the “March” trilogy, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, at Bovard Auditorium
- 12:30 p.m. “The Future is Female” — Lindy West, Rebecca Solnit, and Betty Fussell share the stage at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center
Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is in the house
Name that voice: George Saunders’ ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ audiobook
The audiobook for George Saunders’ latest book and first novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo” has a cast of 166, including David Sedaris, Lena Dunham, Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, Megan Mullally and Don Cheadle. Can you identify the voice in this excerpt?
Saunders will appear on the panel “Hey, What’s That Sound?” at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Taper Hall -- a chance to hear more about L.A.'s favorite traffic distraction, audiobooks -- with Michael Eric Dyson, who recorded the audio version of his book “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America.”
Coming up this hour: Masha Gessen, Sherry Lansing, Tippi Hedren and more
And so it begins. The Festival of Books is back, and it’s starting with a bang. After a kickoff from the Trojan marching band, here’s what’s on the agenda between 10 and 11 a.m. Saturday.
- 10:30 a.m. Masha Gessen will be in conversation with Kim Murphy, discussing “Russia Past & Present” at Town & Gown.
- 10:30 a.m. Sherry Lansing and her biographer, Stephen Galloway, will take the stage with moderator Mary McNamara at Norris Theater.
- 10:30 a.m. “Fiction: Stories of Outsiders” features Idra Novey, Cara Hoffman and Book Prize finalists Sara Baume and Garth Greenwell at the Salvatori Computer Science Center 101.
- 11 a.m. Tippi Hedren will discuss her memoir with Mark Olsen on the L.A. Times Main Stage.
Cesar Millan presents ‘Lessons from the Pack’ on the Hoy Stage at 12:30 p.m.
Read L.A. Times editor Davan Maharaj’s call to action at the book prizes
The following is an excerpt of remarks at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes by Times editor-in-chief Davan Maharaj on Friday night.
Whether we call ourselves novelists or poets, artists or journalists, young adult authors or historians, we must be relentless in our efforts to expose hypocrisy, speak truth to power and capture in our prose and our poetry the facts of our world today. For the forces we are up against will not disappear overnight. This is going to be a long effort. It will take time. And it will define us for years to come. I’m confident that we will prevail.
Michael Connelly brings Harry Bosch to the Festival of Books at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Bovard Auditorium
One of the decisions series fiction writers must make is whether to let their characters age or keep them anchored to a specific time period.
There is no right or wrong choice, as the success of Sue Grafton can attest — her heroine, Kinsey Millhone, has aged less than 10 years over 24 novels. Conversely, Michael Connelly’s seminal hero, Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch, first appeared in his early 40s, when he served on the LAPD Hollywood Division’s Homicide unit (1992’s “The Black Echo”), followed by stints in the department’s storied Robbery-Homicide Division, early retirement and forays into private investigation work, before returning to the LAPD, where he worked in RHD’s Open-Unsolved Unit until being forced into retirement in his mid-60s.
“The Wrong Side of Goodbye” finds Bosch, like many baby boomers, working a couple of jobs to keep himself busy and contributing to the private-college education of his daughter. Bosch’s PI work pays the bills while he undertakes volunteer work investigating cold cases at the San Fernando Police Department, a small municipal force recently decimated by cutbacks, keeping him close to his mission of getting justice for crime victims.
Get the latest updates from the festival
Novelist Adam Haslett to appear at 10:30 a.m. Saturday
Adam Haslett was still a student at Yale Law School when his first book, the short story collection “You Are Not a Stranger Here,” was published in 2002. The book earned rave reviews and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. He followed that up eight years later with “Union Atlantic,” a well-received novel about a real estate battle between an affluent banker and a retired schoolteacher.
His latest novel, “Imagine Me Gone,” is perhaps his most self-assured work to date. The book follows a married couple, Margaret and John, and their three children, Michael, Alec and Celia, who struggle to make sense of their lives after John takes his own life. Things get even more difficult after Michael is forced to deal with his own mental illness, and his mother and siblings try to get him the help he needs. The novel has drawn widespread praise from reviewers impressed with Haslett’s bold, original prose, and it was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. It’s also among the five nominees for this year’s L.A. Times Book Prize for Fiction.
Book editor Carolyn Kellogg: My picks for Saturday at the Festival of Books
The book prizes are tonight, and, with Tig Notaro hosting, they will be our most fun yet. There’s still time to get tickets…
I’m Carolyn Kellogg, book editor of the Los Angeles Times, and for me, the book festival is an amazing time of year when we get to celebrate reading and meet authors face-to-face. And as someone who’s been involved with planning it for months, I have to say I love every panel and speaker equally.
That said, I want to highlight a couple of panels at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. You may still be able to get tickets to some; if they’re sold out, there’s a chance you’ll still get a seat if you wait in the standby line.
As I write, it’s the one-year anniversary of Prince’s death. The vastness of his brilliance is something that Ben Greenman tries to come to grips with in “Dig If You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince,” published last week. He’ll be on the panel And the Beat Goes On on Saturday at noon with Simon Reynolds, whose latest book is “Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-first Century,” and Tony Fletcher, author of “In the Midnight Hour: The Life and Soul of Wilson Pickett.” It will be moderated by The Times’ Jessica Gelt, a reporter with a rock-n-roll secret.
Also on Saturday at noon: Nonfiction: The Future Is Female featuring feminists from three generations. Lindy West, whose book is “Shrill,” is a millennial; the latest from Rebecca Solnit, a baby boomer, is “The Mother of All Questions”; and Betty Fussell, who is in her 80s, is a James Beard award-winning food writer (her new book is “Eat Live Love Die”) who decided, as a 21-year-old bride, that “housewifery wasn’t enough.” It will be moderated by Joy Press, The Times’ former book and pop culture editor (I think she’s Gen X — which would make it four generations).
The festival is full of smart people, but if you want to spend an hour in the company of the absolute smartest of the bunch, don’t miss Nonfiction: Science and Our World on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Its panelists include Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at Caltech whose new book is “The Big Picture,” Lawrence Weschler, who will be talking about his latest book, “Waves Passing in the Night: Walter Murch in the Land of the Astrophysicists,” and Bruce Watson, an L.A. Times book prize finalist for his “biography of light,” titled “Light: A Radiant History from Creation to the Quantum Age,” all moderated by The Times’ Alan Zarembo.
As book editor here, I’ve noticed that the books coming out of New York publishing don’t reflect the city I live in. At 4:30 p.m., I’ll be moderating a panel with two of our critics at large — Adriana Ramirez and Rigoberto Gonzalez — along with Rueben Martinez, recipient of our Innovator’s Award. During the panel, titled “Listen up, New York: Latino Readers & Writers Have Something to Say,” I’ll be asking about what publishing could learn from Latino writers and readers. Please bring your questions, complaints — and ideas.
Margaret Atwood on Trump, women’s rights and why ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is more relevant now than ever
Margaret Atwood & Bruce Miller talk about taking “The Handmaid’s Tale” from page to screen at the festival on Sunday at 2:30 with Times Assistant Managing Editor Mary McNamara. Atwood recently spoke to Patt Morrison about the books enduring relevance:
When “The Handmaid’s Tale” was published in 1985, reproductive rights were under siege and acid rain was corroding the forests and rivers. The Canadian writer Margaret Atwood reasoned that if you took all this to its logical end, you could wind up with a theocracy, not a democracy, and a population rendered sterile by its own poisons. So her novel of speculative fiction imagined a hyper-religious nation where young women who were still fertile were rounded up and confined to the human equivalent of puppy mills, forced to bear the children of powerful men.
Well, here we are in 2017, and women’s rights to control their own bodies are at risk again, the environment is threatened again — and “The Handmaid’s Tale” is more popular than ever. It became a feature film in 1990, and this April 26, Hulu launches “The Handmaid’s Tale” as a 10-episode series. Why is this book, like George Orwell’s “1984,” finding a new and large and attentive following?
Find Bryan Cranston on the L.A. Times Main Stage Saturday at 1:20 p.m.
Your guide to the Festival of Books
Thomas McGuane to be awarded Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement at Festival of Books
Thomas McGuane wants to discuss how fiction works. It’s a Friday afternoon, and he’s on the phone from Florida, where he recently hosted a family gathering: “all the kids and grandkids,” as he puts it, a tone of satisfaction in his voice. Now, the family is gone and he’s considering the trade that has defined him for half a century.
“It’s like being in the woods and trying to start a fire with wet kindling,” the 77-year-old — who will receive this year’s Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement at the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes — explains with a light chuckle. “You keep breaking matches and you are shocked when it lights.
From barber to bookseller, Rueben Martinez takes the Innovator’s Award
See Joyce Carol Oates in conversation with Steph Cha on Saturday
Leave it to Joyce Carol Oates — full-time genius, part-time troll — to drop a 700-plus-page novel about abortion just in time for the most dramatic, divisive regime change in our country’s recent history.