From hidden histories to jungle adventures: 5 book talks for the week ahead

Kwei Quartey's latest book is “The Missing American.”
(Soho Crime)

This week’s book events showcase diverse voices, hidden histories and readings by world-class authors.

Here’s the rundown on five book talks coming up.

Undercover in Africa

Like the detectives that populate his novels, author Kwei Quartey lives a double life. Quartey is a Pasadena physician. He’s also the author of crime fiction based in Africa. His book “The Missing American” kicks off a new series. In a recent Times story, Paula L. Woods writes Quartey’s “unflinching portrayal of Ghanaian criminals, their fetish priest handlers and corruption at the highest levels” marks an “intriguing debut.” Quartey will be at Vroman’s to discuss “The Missing American.” The book unfolds in Ghana, where he grew up.

7 p.m., Tuesday, Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Free.


Echoes of New York’s punk past

Poet, editor and author Glenn O’Brien made his name writing a column for Interview magazine and running Rolling Stone’s New York bureau. O’Brien’s New York City public access show “TV Party” chronicled the cultural cauldron of New York’s primordial punk, new wave and hip-hop scenes from 1978 to 1982. Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Byrne all made cameos on the show. On Tuesday, the Hammer Museum hosts a reading of the late writer’s works compiled in the recent book “Intelligence for Dummies: Essays and Other Collected Writings.” The event features Jonathan Lethem, Ernest Hardy, Linda Yablonsky and Andy Spade.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood. Free.

Explore the Amazon

The rapid deforestation of Brazils Amazon isn’t only obliterating a precious environment; it’s also threatening the many indigenous cultures that call the jungle home. Photojournalist Sue Cunningham and writer Patrick Cunningham spent five months in this fragile ecosystem, traveling by boat on the Xingu River deep into the Amazon jungle. They spent time in 48 tribal villages, exploring the vibrant cultures embedded in the remote region. Their efforts are documented in “Spirit of the Amazon: The Indigenous Tribes of the Xingu,” which they will discuss at Diesel Books.

6:30 p.m., Thursday, Diesel Books, 225 26th St., Santa Monica. Free.

New noir

Author Tom Lutz’s oeuvre covers a lot of territory, from slackerdom to hitch-hiking in Uzbekistan to a cultural history of crying. Lutz, the founder and editor in chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books, adds literary thriller to his roster with his first novel, “Born Slippy.” The book traces the troubled friendship of antihero Frank Baltimore and a charming sociopath who is fascinated by him. Lutz will discuss “Born Slippy” with novelist Steph Cha at Skylight Books.

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave, Los Feliz. Free.

Beyond the beach

The beach just south of Santa Monica’s Ocean Park neighborhood, known as the Inkwell, became a welcome place for African Americans during the racially tense times of the early 20th century. People went there to catch a wave and some rays without fear of discrimination. While much evidence of area has disappeared, historian Alison Rose Jefferson’s book “Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era,” reflects on how black communities spread inclusivity — and visibility — by having fun in public spaces. At Chevalier’s, Jefferson discusses her research on the history of Southern California’s African American involvement in business projects and leisure destinations from the 1910s to the 1960s.

7 p.m., Thursday, Chevaliers Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., Free.