The Oakland Book Festival: A One-day Literary Extravaganza

The Oakland Book Festival is a free one-day whirlwind of readings, panels, conversations and literary events.  2017’s theme is “Equality & Inequality.” This uniquely Oaklandish celebration happens 11am to 6pm, this Sunday, May 21st at City Hall and surrounding venues (events kick off on Saturday night).  Check out for more details.  Here’s a small selection of recent works by some of the over 60 authors appearing at the Festival. Click on the title to read more about it.


Our Declaration : A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality by Danielle Allen 

Strangers In Their Own Land : Anger and Mourning on the American Right  by Arlie Russell Hochschild 

The Border of Paradise : a Novel  by Esmé Weijun Wang 

The Distance Between Us  by Reyna Grande


The Future We Want : Radical Ideas For a New Century  Edited by Sarah Leonard and Bhaskar Sunkara

We Gon' be Alright : Notes on Race and Resegregation  by Jeff Chang

"All the Real Indians Died Off" : and 20 Other Myths About Native Americans  by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker

You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened  by Arisa White 


Against Everything : Essays  by Mark Greif 

Sun Bear  by Matthew Zapruder

Kinder Than Solitude : a Novel by Yiyun Li

The Tsar of Love and Techno : Stories  by Anthony Marra 


Deadfalls and Snares  by Samantha Giles

Morning in Serra Mattu : a Nubian Ode as Told to E.G. Dubovsky Who Recorded It In Verse  by Arif Gamal

Inside Syria : the Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect  by Reese Erlich ; foreword by Noam Chomsky   

The Muslims are Coming! : Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror  by Arun Kundnani

Are you going to or did you attend the Oakand Book Festival on May 21st?  Did you hear an author or discussion that inspired you? Tell us about it!

The Name is Yuknavitch

Lidia Yuknavitch.  That’s her name. 

I was racking my brain yesterday to recall the author of an emotionally intense memoir to recommend to someone, and tried every variation from Yanowitz to Yonavich. I tried to do a search on “amazing women authors from Oregon with Ken Kesey as writing teacher” but Google failed me.  I finally had to look in my list of books read since 2011. (Yes, I keep a list- I’m a librarian.) The title is The Chronology of Water: A memoir.  It was captivating, unforgettable, as was my impression of the author.


Yuknavitch. Yuk- like nuke, like the dropping of nuclear-strength honesty, and -vitch like… what women who fight ferociously for their expression and existence get called too often. Her memoir left me wishing I actually knew her, despite feeling not quite audacious enough. I love that magic of memoir - the intimacy it can grant between strangers.

In a satisfying bit of synchronicity, today I found that name on the cover of the latest Poets and Writers magazine (Amy Gall’s interview with Lidia Yuknavitch: The Other Side of Burning). Yuknavitch has a new book called The Book of Joan (not to be confused with Melissa Rivers’ 2015 biography of her mother).  Kirkus Reviews calls it “A retelling of the Joan of Arc story set in a terrifying near future of environmental and political chaos.”

Yuknavitch says that despite the dystopian theme, eerily prescient of recent history, The Book of Joan does inspire hope. “Part of this hope includes remaking our myths and our archetypes and taking the stories different places than they have been, because all our mighty myths lead to war and destruction.  And the hero’s journey doesn’t fit all of our bodies; it just fits the white male body. And that’s where Joan comes in.” (Yuknavitch in Poets and Writers, May/June 2017)


Lidia Yuknavitch’s novel The Small Backs of Children won the 2016 Oregon Book Award’s Ken Kesey Award for Fiction, as well as the Readers' Choice Award (her memoir was Readers' Choice in 2012).  She has also written Dora: A Head Case, 3 story collections, a book of criticism, and her TED talk will soon be a book: The Misfit’s Manifesto.

The Book of Joan is currently in processing and will soon be on the shelf at OPL.  There are already 6 Hold requests for the 2 copies; I am number 7. Get in line.