Here’s your virtual L.A. Times Festival of Books lineup

Jason Ham, 23, of Los Angeles rests his head on Baily Pham's legs during the Times Festival of Books.
Jason Ham, 23, of Los Angeles rests his head on Baily Pham’s legs while they read books during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

How to Watch

Los Angeles Times Virtual Festival of Books

When: Oct. 18–Nov. 13, 25 virtual events over four weeks


How: Register in advance for each event with name and email address. An event reminder email will be sent 48 hours prior with a link to view the event.

Details: All events free of charge. Books available for purchase through partner booksellers. Questions can be submitted on registration. See Festival FAQ for more.

Festival of Books Kickoff, presented with USC

Sunday, Oct. 18
10 a.m.

L.A. Times columnist Patt Morrison will help kick off the virtual 25th annual Festival of Books, Stories and Ideas, featuring the president of USC, Dr. Carol L. Folt, and Times President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Argentieri, accompanied by the USC Trojan Marching Band.

Henry Winkler, Lin Oliver and “Lights, Camera, Danger!”

Sunday, Oct. 18
10:30 a.m.

L.A. Times staff writer Michael Ordoña hosts writer and film producer Lin Oliver and award-winning actor, comedian, director and children’s book author Henry Winkler as they discuss and read from their second book in the Alien Superstar series, “Lights, Camera, Danger!”

Young Adult Fiction

Sunday, Oct. 18

YA authors Brandy Colbert, Shaun David Hutchinson and Jennifer De Leon join moderator and YA novelist Zan Romanoff for a timely discussion of their work, largely centered on social justice and issues of race and identity.


Ayad Akhtar with Reza Aslan

Monday, Oct. 19
6 p.m.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar will discuss his latest novel, “Homeland Elegies,” with acclaimed writer and religion scholar Reza Aslan. Akhtar’s deeply personal work blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, at its heart this is the story of a father, a son and the country they call home.

Perhaps no other medium has better helped us process 2020. Our fall books special brings you the books and authors who’ve helped make sense of it.

Oct. 9, 2020

People Have the Power? Electoral Politics and Democracy

Tuesday, Oct. 20
5:30 p.m.

How democratic is our democracy? As we approach one of the most important elections in U.S. history, Bob Shrum, former political strategist and consultant and director of the USC Center for the Political Future, will moderate a conversation on America’s political system and the role and representation of its citizens with panelists Paul Adler, Jane Junn and John Matsusaka.

The Honorable Jerry Brown

Wednesday, Oct. 21
6 p.m.

Jerry Brown, the iconoclastic two-time former California governor, presidential candidate and mayor of Oakland, will join Jim Newton, a former Times editor-at-large and author of “Man of Tomorrow: The Relentless Life of Jerry Brown,” to discuss his storied life in politics. Times California Columnist Gustavo Arellano will guide their conversation.

Roberto Lovato and Esmeralda Bermudez

Thursday, Oct. 22
4:30 p.m.

In the wrenching memoir “Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas,” Roberto Lovato offers an urgent, no-holds-barred tale of intergenerational trauma and interconnected violence between the U.S. and El Salvador. He’ll discuss his life and work with Times staff writer Esmeralda Bermudez, who was born in El Salvador and raised in Los Angeles.

Crime Fiction: The Dark Side

Friday, Oct. 23
6 p.m.

A dynamic trio of L.A.-based female crime-fiction writers, Rachel Howzell Hall, Attica Locke and Ivy Pochoda, discuss their latest releases and the real-world issues that drive them: social pressures, injustice, racial tension and female empowerment, all against the backdrop of riveting, un-put-downable storytelling. James Queally, a Times crime and policing reporter and debut crime fiction author himself, moderates their conversation.

Marlon James

Monday, Oct. 26
6 p.m.

Marlon James, winner of the inaugural 2019 L.A. Times Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction and a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award, will join award-winning writer and UCLA Afrofuturism professor Tananarive Due in a conversation about his ambitious and breathtaking science fiction novel, “Black Leopard Red Wolf.”

Marlon James, whose novel “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” pioneered queer fantasy, thanks Mary Shelley and “Moby Dick” for predicting our current crisis.

April 17, 2020

Writing Fiction for the Ear

Tuesday, Oct. 27
6 p.m.

Authors André Aciman, Gayle Forman, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen talk about writing fiction for audio, and with listeners in mind, with Audible editor Katie O’Connor moderating the discussion.

Fiction: All You Need Is Love

Wednesday, Oct. 28
6 p.m.

“Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan returned this year with his brilliantly funny new novel, “Sex and Vanity.” He joins Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, co-authors of “The Royal We,” in what is sure to be a delicious conversation, moderated by novelist and essayist Jade Chang.

Roots to Routes: Immigration and Race in L.A.

Thursday, Oct. 29
5 p.m.

This first half of a two-part panel on Los Angeles will explore race and immigration in Southern California today and throughout history. Topics include the ways shifting racial demographics have changed the economy and the state’s impact on politics nationally. Featuring USC Professors Juan De Lara, Manuel Pastor and Associate Professor Sarah Gualtieri, moderated by Professor William Deverell.

Civic Memory and the Future of L.A.

Thursday, Oct. 29
6 p.m.

What and who should be remembered and memorialized across public spaces, and what should such commemorations look like? Members of the Civic Memory Working Group of Los Angeles, a diverse gathering of artists, architects, historians and others, will explore the ideas and obligations around civic memory (and civic amnesia). Featuring USC Professor Christopher Hawthorne, Associate Professor Taj Frazier and architects Frederick Fisher and Gail Kennard, with Professor William Deverell moderating.

Walter Mosley, Luis Rodriguez, the coiner of #BlackLivesMatter and others sketch a hopeful future for L.A. and the U.S. after George Floyd protests.

June 8, 2020

Maria Hinojosa and Laila Lalami

Friday, Oct. 30
5 p.m.

Maria Hinojosa, Emmy Award-winning journalist, NPR’s “Latino USA” anchor and author of “Once I Was You,” joins award-winning novelist-essayist Laila Lalami, author of “Conditional Citizens,” to explore immigration and what it means to be an American — subjects both authors examine in their recently released memoirs — with Times Column One editor Steve Padilla moderating.

“Chicken of the Sea” by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Sunday, Nov. 1
11 a.m.

This whimsical and unexpected picture book originated in the 5-year-old mind of Ellison Nguyen, son of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen. Father and son committed the story to the page, then enlisted Caldecott winner Thi Bui and her 13-year-old son, Hien Bui-Stafford, to illustrate it. All four will join Sumun L. Pendakur, from the USC Race and Equity Center, for a special reading and talk.

Young Adult Fantasy

Sunday, Nov. 1
12:30 p.m.

YA fantasy authors Marie Lu and Tehlor Kay Mejia, along with debut YA novelist Jordan Ifueko, will delve into mystical world-building and the creation of strong female protagonists with moderator and young people’s literature critic Sharon Levin. Loyalty and family, warriors overcoming evil in a broken world, and sacrifices made for freedom are all on the agenda.


“Natalie Portman’s Fables”

Sunday, Nov. 1
2:30 p.m.

Times Film Critic Justin Chang welcomes Academy Award-winning actress, director, producer and debut children’s author Natalie Portman for a talk and a reading from her children’s picture book, “Natalie Portman’s Fables,” a retelling of three classic tales imbued with kid-friendly wit and wisdom.

Presidential Politics

Monday, Nov. 2
6 p.m.

Three insightful and provocative chroniclers of the current state of the American political scene will have what promises to be an exciting and nerve-racking election-eve conversation about economics, nationalism, racism, the two-party system, where America is now and where it is going. Kurt Andersen, bestselling author and award-winning public radio host; Jean Guerrero, Emmy-winning KPBS investigative border reporter and New York Times contributor, and Stuart Stevens, GOP strategist and Lincoln Project senior advisor, talk to Times Editorial Page Editor Sewell Chan.

Want to understand how we got to 2020? Look to the 1980s — and two recent books: Kurt Andersen’s ‘Evil Geniuses’ and Rick Perlstein’s ‘Reaganland.’

Oct. 8, 2020

Memoirs of the Black Experience

Wednesday, Nov. 4
6 p.m.

Times Christopher Isherwood Prize winner Emily Bernard, acclaimed cultural critic Morgan Jerkins and 2020 National Book Award long-list finalist Frank Wilderson join Times columnist Sandy Banks for a candid conversation about the Black experience, tackling race, family and society and shining a light on the broken world in which we live.

All Hail Contemporary Romance!

Thursday, Nov. 5
6 p.m.

Novelist Elissa Sussman corrals authors Jasmine Guillory, Casey McQuiston and Rebekah Weatherspoon for a discussion of their thoroughly modern romance novels. Filled with smart, witty and intelligent heroines and heroes, these warm-hearted storytellers maintain their feminist edge.

USC Glorya Kaufman’s Fall Dance Performance

Friday, Nov. 6
5 p.m.

BFA students from the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance will perform never-before-seen pieces as well as masterworks by world-renowned choreographers. Prior to the performance, USC Kaufman faculty members will discuss the historical context of the dance styles being featured, as well as the present-day significance of teaching, learning and performing these works.

The State of the American Economy

Monday, Nov. 9
6 p.m.

How are corrupt systems organized and how have they shaped our government today? How are ordinary Americans affected by the rich and powerful who don’t play by the same rules? What can we close the racial wealth gap? These questions and more will be discussed by journalists and scholars Mehrsa Baradaran, Sarah Chayes and Jennifer Taub, with Times D.C. Bureau Chief Kimbriell Kelly moderating.

Seeking Freedom: Race, Gender and Citizenship

Tuesday, Nov. 10
6 p.m.

Who gets to be citizens in the Land of the Free? In a wide-ranging conversation, a panel of experts in law, history and social work talk through historical and contemporary obstacles faced by marginalized communities in the U.S. as well as the paths toward empowerment. Featuring USC Professors Sam Erman, Ariela Gross and Kristen Zaleski, moderated by history Professor Alaina Morgan.

Robinson’s dazzling Gilead novels, from “Home” to “Lila,” have grappled with the history of American ideals. In “Jack,” she writes about an interracial couple.

Oct. 6, 2020

Marilynne Robinson With Héctor Tobar

Thursday, Nov. 12
5 p.m.

Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, returns to the fictional world of Gilead, Iowa, with “Jack,” the fourth novel in one of the great works of contemporary American fiction. Robinson talks with Héctor Tobar, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, novelist and author of the new book “The Last Great Road Bum.”

Science & Medicine: Pandemics

Friday, Nov. 13

Here we are — more than half a year into the pandemic. What do we know, what went wrong and how can we do better? Hear from the experts: science journalist Debora MacKenzie, prize-winning author-journalist Sonia Shah and sociologist, physician and author Nicholas Christakis, with Times healthcare reporter Soumya Karlamangla moderating.