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May Calendar: Celebrating The Written Word

By Paul Wilner

As we emerge from a year most would like to forget, literary lights keep shining. At press time, most of the events are still Zoom gatherings, but here’s hoping we can meet our literary heroes again soon. Meanwhile, the beat goes on.

May 1

The Bay Area Book Festival, in partnership with Green Apple Books, unites 45 authors — including Vendela Vida, Kazuo Ishiguro and Dave “Davey D” Cook — for a virtual lineup of panels, Q&As, and youth programs. One of the festival’s highlights is the May 2 event with Ishiguro, who expounds on Klara and the Sun, his first novel since winning the Nobel Prize in 2017. It’s a tale of Klara, an Artificial Friend who observes the comings and goings in a store in the hope that a customer will buy her. He will be speaking with Ghanaian American novelist Yaa Gyasi. Runs through May 9. $20. 1 p.m.

May 4

Novelist and nonfiction writer Olivia Laing speaks on her newest work, Everybody: A Book About Freedom, which deals with everything from Wilhelm Reich to Nina Simone, Susan Sontag, Malcolm X and alternative medicine. She’ll be in conversation with Johanna Fateman, of the post-punk rock group Le Tigre. $40, with a free copy of the book delivered with ticket purchases. Noon.

May 8

City Lights sponsors a two-day tribute to the late, great Michael McClure. The first is pegged to the posthumous release of his last book and a memorial to his legacy, and features noted poets Anne Waldman and Eileen Myles, along with Garrett Caples, who edited the collection. The second event, billed as a “memorial tribute,’’ features Russ Tamblyn, Margaret Randall, Forrest Gander, Jerome Rothenberg, and Amy, Jane & Joanna McClure. Both days’ events are at 3 p.m.

May 18

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake), debuts Whereabouts, her first novel in nearly a decade — also the first she’s written in Italian, then translated into English. It tells the tale of a woman wavering “between the need to belong and the refusal to form ties.’’ She’ll be in conversation with Italian literature professor Monica Seger. 6 p.m. $29.

May 20

Multitalented Bay Area–based author Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Big Short) discusses his latest, The Premonition: A Pandemic Story, with Dave Eggers. A timely follow-up to 2018’s The Fifth Risk, which warned of the dangers of the gutting of governmental infrastructure, the new volume portrays the efforts of medical visionaries trying to beat the clock amid opposition, and indifference, in the Trump era. 6 p.m. $29.


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