ALOUD Launches Spring Line-up

From a Nobel Prize winner to an acclaimed hip-hop artist, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ critically-acclaimed ALOUD series presents an exciting slate of free public programs this spring exploring issues of activism, poetry, politics, performance, and more at downtown’s historic Central Library.

On Wednesday, March 4, ALOUD welcomes Eric Foner, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and consultant on the Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave, to discuss his latest book, which reveals extraordinary new findings about the Underground Railroad. The next day, Thursday, March 5, the multi-talented dancer, choreographer, and director Bill T. Jones (pictured above) visits ALOUD for a conversation and performance with dancers from his company, celebrating the publication of a new book based on his brilliant work as an African American artist in the white-dominated dance world.

Historian Timothy Snyder and journalist Masha Gessen, two essential thinkers on Eastern European politics, convene to offer a revelatory look at the propaganda and reality of the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, March 10. On Monday, March 23, together for the first time on stage, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Adam Johnson and bestselling nonfiction author Blaine Harden explore how different paths of storytelling led them to similar truths about the illusive culture of North Korea.

Thomas McGuane joins ALOUD on Tuesday, March 31, for a reading and conversation about Crow Fair: Stories, his first collection in nine years, which confirms his status as one of America’s most deeply admired storytellers.

On Thursday, April 2, Karima Bennoune, a 20-year veteran of human rights research and activism, offers an eye-opening chronicle of peaceful resistance to extremism with Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Continuing these same themes, on Wednesday, April 8, local filmmakers Julia Metzer and Laura Nix offer a rare look into the female experience of contemporary Islam with a screening of their documentary, A Light in Her Eyes, filmed in Syria (film still pictured above.)  Veteran journalist and critically-acclaimed author Sandy Tolan brings another true story of hope in the Palestinian-Israeli impasse with Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land on Tuesday, April 21.

On Thursday, April 23, in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, ALOUD presents GRAMMY-nominated Chilean hip hop artist Ana Tijoux (pictured above) for a conversation and performance of her politically powered verses and rebel spirit.

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist,  speaks with journalist Jim Newton  about the yawning gap between rich and poor in America on Monday, April 27.

On Thursday, April 30, ALOUD presents the second annual gathering of students from five Southland graduate writing programs – CalArts, Otis College, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and USC – to share recent work and tune audience ears to the future of language.

In collaboration with LéaLA, Feria del Libro en Español de Los Ángeles, on Thursday, May 14, award-winning author and former PEN Mexico President Jennifer Clement, presents her fictionalized account – drawn from ten years of field research and the author’s own time living in Mexico – of young women in rural Guerrero living in the shadows of the drug war.

And closing out the season, ALOUD presents two incredible evenings of poetry: On Tuesday, May 19, masterful poet and essayist Jane Hirshfield shares her latest two works, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World and The Beauty, for a close look at poetry’s power to expand perception; and on Thursday, May 28, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith (pictured above) reads her poetry and discusses her new memoir, Ordinary Light, a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family that explores the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, religion, and unbreakable bonds.

The entire ALOUD spring 2015 calendar is now available to the public at lfla.org/aloud. Library Foundation Members receive advance notice of ALOUD programs.

Photo Credits:
First image: Photos from performance of Story/Time. Credit: Paul B. Goode
Second image: Arirang Festival- Pyongyang, North Korea. Credit: (Stephan)
Third image: Film still from documentary, The Light in Her Eyes.
Last image: Tracy K. Smith at the Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn, New York.
Credit: Rolex/ Tina Ruisinger

A Day in the Life of a City Librarian

When your job is to oversee the country’s largest and most diverse public library system, no two days are the same. City Librarian John Szabo is marking his third anniversary at the Los Angeles Public Library this fall, and he’s made it his mission to stay personally connected to the frontline of the Library and the work of his staff at Central Library and each of the 72 branches. Here’s how he connects throughout the day.


Szabo kicks off the special exhibit No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station.

Head Start
Before I get out of bed in the morning, I’m looking at e-mail to get ahead of the messages. I read the L.A. Times digitally for the news, and then I consume lots of coffee.

Off to City Hall
An interesting first meeting I recently had was at City Hall over an initiative of the Mayor’s that builds on the work the Library has already been doing on citizenship and naturalization. The mayors of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles have jointly launched  “Cities for Citizenship,” which emphasizes the importance of citizenship, including the economic impact of it. At this meeting, the Mayor’s office convened multiple nonprofits around the table to work with us in this space of citizenship, which the Library is very much at the center.

Szabo talking to City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and staffer.

Poetry Before Noon
One late morning back at Central Library, the Mayor stopped by to announce Luis Rodríguez as our new Poet Laureate of L.A. Although we do so much great programming around poetry from the teen poetry slams to the ALOUD programs bringing in poet laureates of the United States, this occasion was particularly significant for us because the poet Luis Rodríguez has a long and wonderful relationship with the Los Angeles Public Library. We will so be looking forward to the year ahead with him and his poetry programs for children, teens, and adults.

Central Hub
For lunch, I might grab a salad and eat it at my desk as I prepare for an upcoming board meeting. At our next board meeting, we are accepting a generous gift from the Friends of the Library Group and we are discussing the strategic plan for the Library. Being at the Central Library, it’s easy to go in and out and see our staff and pop into The Library Store and do a little shopping—I absolutely love anything “hardcore library.” I recently got a pair of library card socks and the library card iPhone case. I bought my partner a fantastic grilled cheese cookbook.

At Central, we also have our big staff meetings in the Taper Auditorium with all 72 branch managers. I particularly enjoy seeing everyone from Eagle Rock to San Pedro together in one place, and I love the one-on-one conversations afterwards to hear what’s happening in the communities and with our very big staff.

Checkup
Also at Central Library, I might have a meeting with the community health councils to talk about our “Know Your Digits,” campaign, which is occurring in seven of our branch libraries as part of our “Health Matters” initiative. We are trying to leverage the physical presence of libraries as trusted, valued institutions to fight health issues and disparities in particular areas of Los Angeles with high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease by helping people get screened.

Dreams Come True
Once in awhile, I’ll have a meeting cancel that will free up my afternoon, so over the last two years I use this time to go out and visit branches. I’ve now visited 65 of the 73 branches—only 8 left to go! I absolutely love going out and visiting our branches because every single one is different—they are different architecturally, the staff is different, the collections are different, the services are different—and all are uniquely positioned to serve their community. The branches are always packed with families or some kind of children’s program like “Storytime.” Recently, I visited the Platt Branch in the West Valley and I got to see an English language study course in action—students from Korea and Guatemala and Mexico and Croatia. It’s the dream of the City Librarian to see these wonderful scenes happening over and over at each branch.

Szabo at the 2014 Book Drop Bash with authors T.C. Boyle and Mona Simpson.

After Hours
My assistant and I are usually in the office until at least six or a little after, and then there’s often evening meetings or events. Sometimes it’s something at City Hall or a Library Foundation event. I love being the “library guy” and representing the Los Angeles Public Library 24-7-365.

When I get home, if I have time, I do some reading. I’m an only child and my dad is a single parent, so my father and I are best friends. He lives in Montgomery, Alabama and is retired, and ever since I went off to college at 18, he has sent me clippings in the mail of interesting things to read. I, as I’m able, do the same. In the evening, it’s a real pleasure and treasure to read through what he’s sent.

Learn more about all the initiatives of the Los Angeles Public Library here.

 

 

Eras Colliding: Patton Oswalt at ALOUD

Before Patton Oswalt became a beloved fixture in comedy, film, and television, including roles in Young Adult, Big Fan, and Ratatouille, he was obsessively watching classic movies at the legendary New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Discussing his new memoir which takes the reader on a journey into the mind of a film buff, next week Patton will join ALOUD at the Writers Guild Theater for a familial and likely irreverent conversation with his brother and fellow film fanatic, Matt Oswalt. Before the Oswalts take the stage, we caught up with Patton about his addiction to the big screen, books, and his 1.75 million Twitter followers.

 

You’ve watched a lot of films at the New Beverly Cinema, but you also watch films at library programs. What’s the importance of watching films in a communal setting for you? How does a library screening differ from other cinematic experiences?
Patton:
Watching films in a communal setting adds a subconscious dimension to the movie that no one—not the director, writers, actors, and not even each individual audience member anticipated would be a part of the experience. Something that you’d shrug your shoulders at watching alone—or that a director, writer and actor conceived and executed as a means to get from point A to point B—can suddenly become a laugh, or a scream, or a groan of exasperation to an audience, wired together emotionally in the dark.

Watching a film in a library adds another aspect—the feeling of eras colliding and battling each other. You’re surrounded by books, which used to be movies for the masses, and there they sit, like tombstones, while up there on the screen is a moving glow which pushed those books further back into the shadows. Very dramatic, if you’re in the right mind for it.

Although your main passion is film, you are also very literary—you’ve written two books and you took part in the Library Foundation’s Moby Dick project last year. What role did books play in your life growing up—and did they influence your love of film?
Patton: Books were a comfortable bolt-hole out of reality, and prepared me to be comfortable with looking through different windows at the way someone who wasn’t me interpreted reality. Any window—page of a book, comic panel, painting canvas, cathode ray tube, movie screen—the mind wants an expanded horizon.

You are very active on Twitter, yet you recently took a break from it. Do you think such forms of communication enhance or pose a threat to the way we use language today?
Patton:
Any new form of communication can enhance the world we live in—ask the people in Tahrir Square if they think Twitter is a threat—but, like anything, it can get misused or, worse, replace life. There are just as many people who have fallen into the pages of books and never re-emerged as have dissolved their consciousnesses online.

You often take your daughter to the Los Angeles Public Library. Can you talk about your visits to the Library? Why is the Library important to you as a father?
Patton:
I never go with a specific thing I want to do or don’t want to do. Mainly I like her seeing people excited to get into the stacks, to thumb through pages, to brush up against other minds. The looks on the faces of the freaks, waiting by the main entrance with their notebooks and pages and manifestos? It’s like I’m taking her to see a vanishing species.

An Evening with Patton Oswalt
Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film
In conversation with writer and director (and brother) Matt Oswalt

Friday, January 23, 7:30 PM
Writers Guild Theater

Tickets: lfla.org/aloud

Author Chang-rae Lee Talks Alternate Realities at ALOUD

From The Surrendered to Native Speaker, novelist Chang-rae Lee has been hailed for his beautifully crafted character portraits of Asians grappling with race, class, and identity divisions of contemporary society. His latest novel, On Such a Full Sea, is no different thematically, although it’s a fiercely imagined story set in a chilling near-future America, where abandoned post-industrial cities have been converted into forced labor colonies populated with immigrant workers. Lee’s shift to a dystopian world is a bold move for such a masterful writer of realism, but his introspective prose offers a welcomed elevation to the ever-popular field of apocalyptic storytelling. Before he takes the ALOUD stage on Thursday, January 15th for a conversation with the story-bending author Charles Yu (How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe), we talked to Lee about Bladerunner, The Odyssey, libraries, and what inspired his alternative reality.

Your new novel is rooted in a dystopian America although your past novels are set mostly in reality. Can you talk about this shift in writing modes and where the idea for this dystopian world came from?
Lee:
I didn’t originally plan to write a ‘dystopian’ fiction or in fact anything speculative. But I had this very strange idea for a story about re-populating abandoned urban areas of America with former factory workers from China, who would emigrate en masse and settle and ‘revitalize’ forlorn neighborhoods in places like Detroit and Baltimore. Of course nothing of the sort could ever happen in our present reality, so I decided to set the story in the future, though in a future with very different social conditions.

Can you talk more about those cities that inspired this imagined place?
Lee:
In fact Baltimore was the inspiration, as I’d seen, over many years, this particular forlorn neighborhood from the train while traveling between NYC and Washington D.C.; the novel is set in ‘B-Mor’, a once proud city that is now a massive production facility/settlement, where the worker inhabitants grow pristine fish and vegetables for an elite ‘Charter’ class.

Los Angeles has often been the setting for dystopian stories in books, and especially films like the cult classic Bladerunner. Are there any films or books that influenced On Such a Full Sea?
Lee:
Bladerunner is one of my very favorite films — in fact I wrote part of my undergraduate senior thesis on the film, focusing on the question of genre in both art and identity. But I would say that if there’s any significant influence for OSAFS it would have to be The Odyssey, which is a narrative of adventure and discovery of strange peoples, lands, and of course, of self.

Since ALOUD takes place at the Los Angeles Public Library, we’re curious if you have any personal connections to public libraries?
Lee:
I spent much of my childhood in libraries, as my mother would leave me and my younger sister at the local library on weekend afternoons and pick us up before dinner. She was an immigrant and never felt comfortable guiding us on what to read but believed in the importance of reading, and so she left us in the care of the librarians. They were always wonderful and kind, very eager to help, something for which I’ll always be grateful.

Make your free reservation for Lee’s upcoming ALOUD program here.

Main image: Chang-rae Lee (credit: Anika Lee), and cover art for On Such a Full Sea

12 Months of the Los Angeles Public Library

Every year thousands of Angelenos take part in the many educational and cultural programs, resources, and services at the Los Angeles Public Library. Before we look ahead to what will be an exciting new year at the Library, here’s a look back at some of the diverse activities supported by the Library Foundation in 2014. Thanks to all of our Members for joining us throughout the year and for making these invaluable experiences free and available to all.

January
ALOUD kicked-off a new year of eclectic programming unique to L.A. and the Library. In January, ALOUD paid tribute to Los Angeles’ unofficial poet laureate, Wanda Coleman, to honor what she did for poetry and who she was in Los Angeles: ­a larger-than-life figure who for decades reminded us how to be our own most authentic selves.

February
The Library Foundation’s coziest fundraiser of the year, The Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, took place, inviting Angelenos to support the Los Angeles Public Library without leaving their homes. Last year, folks stayed home in record numbers–raising the most funds ever in the long history of this favorite event! Save the date for the 2015 ball on March 1st.

March
Young Literati Members gathered with L.A.’s best and brightest for the Sixth Annual Young Literati Toast to raise funds for the Los Angeles Public Library’s “Summer Reading Clubs.”  The evening featured Young Literati Chair Amanda Fairey, emcee Busy Philipps, and music by Moby and Jenny Lewis, along with readings and comedic interludes from Nick Kroll, Lizzy Caplan, and Tig Notaro.

April
After flocks of authors and booklovers strolled the lawns of USC for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books last April, participating authors and Library Foundation Members continued celebrating the literary life of this city late into the night at the Third Annual “Book Drop Bash” with more than 400 people gathering at the downtown Central Library.

May
A new exhibit marking the 75th anniversary of Union Station opened at the Central Library. No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station was the first exhibition to examine the significance of the architectural design and cultural politics of the historic station, and included a series of related events like ALOUD panels and a changing display of model trains by various train clubs throughout Southern California.

June
The “Summer Reading Club” kicked off to foster literacy and learning while students were out of school last summer. Los Angeles Public Library’s longest running program motivated over 30,000 kids to crack the books and engage in innovative ways with storytelling.

July
The Library Foundation welcomed Ellen Lipson in her new role as President of The Council. Throughout the year, The Council hosted many special programs and fundraising events to benefit and raise awareness for the Los Angeles Public Library like a special evening and book signing with Norman Lear.

August
The Young Literati gathered in Santa Monica for a proper send-off to the season of long sunsets and frosty cocktails. The Summer Social offered Members the chance to raise their glasses to this past year of incredible support for the Los Angeles Public Library, and also get a sneak peek of what’s on the horizon for this dedicated group of engaged and informed Angelenos.

September
Supporters of the Library Foundation gathered at the historic California Club to celebrate the Foundation’s 22nd anniversary with a gala to benefit the great Los Angeles Public Library. This year’s benefit honored Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz with the Los Angeles Public Library Literary Award and bestselling author Judith Krantz with the Foundation’s Light of Learning Award for her devoted advocacy for the Los Angeles Public Library.

October
Throughout the month, Angelenos joined the Library Foundation and the Los Angeles Public Library for an epic quest to reinterpret Homer’s The Odyssey through a Southern California lens. With over 70 Odyssey-themed activities at the branch libraries for children, teens, and adults, including bike riding with the Cyclops and pop-up appearances by a commemorative Homer Simpson poster, the Odyssey Project culminated with a marathon reading of the epic poem at the Central Library.

November
ALOUD’s award-winning series journeyed to the west side as critically acclaimed Irish novelist Colm Tóibín was interviewed by New York Times bestselling L.A. local Rachel Kushner. The pair took the stage at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills for a conversation about Tóibín’s new novel, Nora Webster, while also discussing their shared passion for some of literature’s most memorable characters.

December
The Library Store got their motors running for the holiday season and sent The Library Store On Wheels to sites across the city to offer unique gifts from our carefully curated collection that gives back to the Los Angeles Public Library.

Happy New Year from the Library Foundation!

Look back at other great photos from the year here.

If you are not a Member already, please consider becoming a Library Foundation Member today to take part in these special events.

Looking Back at 2014′s Voices of ALOUD

Every year ALOUD brings a diverse range of fascinating voices to the stage for Angelenos to engage with books, art, music, history, science, politics, and more—representing some of the most important stories of our time. We hope you were able to join us for many of the 60 exciting programs in 2014, but just in case, here’s a look back at a few favorite moments. Click on any of the links below for podcasts, videos, and photos.

Jam Sessions
Many electrifying musicians took the ALOUD stage, including legendary punk rocker Exene Cervenka, award-winning pianist Jeremy Denk, classical sensation Jessye Norman, and Grammy Award-winning Angélique Kidjo. And last but not least, ALOUD’s 2014 culminating event featured Carlos Santana discussing his new memoir at the historic Orpheum Theatre.

 

Up Close and Personal
From deeply moving memoirs to riveting biographies, a cast of captivating characters filled the Central Library this year—from theatre critic John Lahr’s thrilling journey into the mind of Tennessee Williams, to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Héctor Tobar’s miraculous account of the thirty-three men buried in a Chilean mine, to never-before-shared stories from the illuminating life of Cesar Chavez, to Geoff Dyer on his wildly eclectic writing. Also, The New Yorker’s Jill Lepore unearthed The Secret History of Wonder Woman and bestselling author Jesmyn Ward and New York Times columnist Charles Blow shared their personal stories of growing up in the rural South.

 

Art Talk
ALOUD’s 2014 lineup of artists and art talks further solidified Downtown L.A. as the heart of the city’s pulsing art scene. In a co-presentation with The Broad museum, John Waters spoke with Jeff Koons about his iconic works. Zsa Zsa Gershick directed a dramatic reading of  “Dear ONE,” a moving adaptation of materials from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC. “Master of the impossible” Philippe Petit performed magic tricks, while sociologist Sarah Thornton performed the difficult task of answering the impossible question: “What is an artist?”  In a first-ever interactive art performance at ALOUD, Machine Project transformed the Central Library through sound, dance, video, and multimedia improvisations.

 

Good Reads
And finally, a slate of authors topping many of this year’s best lists discussed their critically-acclaimed works at ALOUD. Lorrie Moore read from her first book of short stories in over 15 years. Pulitzer Prize-winning Marilynne Robinson returned to ALOUD to discuss the last novel in her trilogy, meanwhile Edward St. Aubyn introduced readers to his first book since finishing a five-volume series. Colm Tóibín and Rachel Kushner partnered up for an intimate conversation about Tóibín’s latest book at the Writers Guild Theater, while back at Central Library, an impressive group of actors led by Jason Ritter took the stage for WORDTheatre’s interpretation of Denis Johnson’s epistolary “The Starlight on Idaho.” For fans of Los Angeles history, Walter Kirn spoke with James Ellroy on his latest book Perfidia.

 

Thank you for spending the year with us! We look forward to seeing you in 2015. Learn more about our 2015 program calendar here.

Sharing a Love for Libraries with Meghan Daum

As we’ve officially entered the holiday season, it’s the time of year for reflection and gratitude. Like many Angelenos, we are thankful for the wonderful local literary community that is thriving around the Los Angeles Public Library, including ALOUD veteran and Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum. Before her critically acclaimed new book of essays, The Unspeakable and Other Subjects of Discussion, was published last month, we caught up with Daum about her love for the Los Angeles Public Library. “Every writer says this, but growing up, the library was my main place,” says Daum. “We moved a lot when I was younger and every time we would move it was like, ‘Here’s the library, so now you know where the library is—o.k., so now you’re here.’”

unspeakable.jpg

Daum has been no stranger to Central Library either. “I’m always so happy to come down here. I love the building—it’s an old building that feels like true L.A.” Daum referring to Central Library as “the genuine article” is the ultimate compliment from the author of several books concerned with the search for authenticity—including her newest collection as well as her celebrated first collection of essays, My Misspent Youth and her novel The Quality of Life Report.


Daum’s love for Central extends to her frequent appearances at ALOUD, where she has been in conversation with the likes of Jonathan Franzen (pictured above), Lionel Shriver, and Caille Millner. If you missed those events, you can listen to the free podcasts here—along with many other archived ALOUD programs.

And if you feel like sharing your love of the Los Angeles Public Library this season, consider becoming a Member of the Library Foundation. Now through December 31, when you become a Member, upgrade your existing Membership, or give the gift of Membership, a generous donor will match your gift dollar-for-dollar.

 

Legend Carlos Santana Rocks the ALOUD Stage

To conclude an illuminating year of programming at ALOUD, come spend a magical evening with one of the most influential and visionary musicians of our time, Carlos Santana. On Monday, December 1st at the Orpheum Theatre, Santana will take the stage with Cheech Marin to share the story of his remarkable life as he discusses his new memoir, The Universal Tone. Santana’s soulful new memoir, which is receiving starred reviews from critics, reflects on his humble childhood in Mexico to his celebrated career as a guitarist that bloomed during San Francisco’s Summer of Love. As The Universal Tone is quickly becoming required reading for fans of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist, here’s a look at a few of Santana’s own recommended reads to get you amped up for his special appearance at ALOUD. Learn more about getting tickets to An Evening with Carlos Santana.

Many of these authors from Carlos’ Bookshelf can be found at the Los Angeles Public Library:

The Fifth Agreement
by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
by Eckhart Tolle

A Mini Course for Life
by Gerald Jampolsky, M.D. and Diane Cirincione, PH.D

End your story begin your life
by Jim Dreaver

The Body of Light
by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki

And rounding out his reading list, recently on Twitter Santana called legendary jazz musician and composer Herbie Hancock’s new memoir Possibilities “required reading.” The book is now available at the Los Angeles Public Library.

Book Jacket for: Possibilities
Learn more about getting tickets to An Evening with Carlos Santana.
Mon, Dec 01, 7:30 PM [ALOUD]
The Orpheum Theatre
The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light
In conversation with Cheech Marin
Main image: Carlos Santana (credit: RUBÉN MARTÍN)

On the Horizon at ALOUD

Winter in Los Angeles is all about crisp, clear skies, and there’s definitely something in the stars coming up at ALOUD. From an influential astronomer and a CalTech cosmologist, to a legendary rock star and a comedic movie star, here’s what’s on the horizon at ALOUD this winter:

Kicking off the season, one of the most influential and celebrated musicians of our time – Carlos Santana – sits down with L.A.’s own Cheech Marin for a conversation about his remarkable life story and new memoir, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light. This special offsite program will take place at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 1. Tickets to this program include a signed copy of Santana’s book, and are available at lfla.org/aloud.

On Tuesday, Jan. 13, on the occasion of his book, Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class, writer Scott Timberg assembles a panel of creative thinkers and doers to examine the roots of a creative crisis that has put booksellers, indie musicians, architects, and designers out of work and struggling to make a living.

Novelist Chang-rae Lee stops by ALOUD on Thursday, Jan. 15, for a conversation on alternate realities, the power of a riveting story to change the way we see the world, and his new work, On Such a Full Sea: A Novel. On Wednesday, Jan. 21, author Jeff Chang (Who We Be: The Colorization of America) and filmmaker Justin Simien (Dear White People) discuss how artists and young people are shaping the discussion about race in the waning days of the Obama era.

On Friday, Jan. 23, ALOUD heads offsite again for an evening with Patton Oswalt – comedian, actor, social media genius – at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. During the evening, Oswalt will illuminate the story of his early days in the Los Angeles comedy scene and his unshakeable addiction to the New Beverly Cinema through his new book, Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film. Tickets on sale Nov. 7 at lfla.org/aloud.

In a very special program on Wednesday, Jan. 28, ALOUD hosts a conversation about the first-ever diary published by a still-imprisoned Guantánamo Bay detainee, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who has never been charged with a crime. To discuss the book and case, legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky interviews human rights activist and Slahi’s editor Larry Siems and Nancy Hollander, Slahi’s lawyer, whose practice is devoted to criminal cases (including that of Chelsea E. Manning) involving national security issues.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, award-winning Los Angeles Times reporter Jill Leovy sits down with KCRW’s Warren Olney to tell the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential American murder – one young black man slaying another – contained in her master work of literary journalism, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America.

Leading comics theorist Scott McCloud wrote the book on how comics work (Understanding Comics). Now he vaults into fiction with The Sculptor, a spellbinding adult urban fable, which he shares at ALOUD with KCRW’s Elvis Mitchell on Tuesday, Feb. 10. Later that week, on Thursday, Feb. 12, influential astronomer Wendy L. Freedman and CalTech cosmologist Sean Carroll stop by ALOUD to discuss what literally could be on the horizon in this phenomenal period of scientific discovery.

On Tuesday, Feb. 17, in a special partnership with the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills’ Arts & Ideas series, ALOUD presents a conversation with David Axelrod. During the evening, Axelrod, the great strategist who masterminded Obama’s historic election campaigns, will open up about his years as a young journalist, political consultant, and ultimately Senior Advisor to the President – chronicled in his new book, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics – with NPR’s Emmy Award-winning reporter Michel Martin.  Tickets on sale Nov. 7 at lfla.org/aloud.

On Thursday, Feb. 19, in partnership with the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies of The Claremont Colleges, ALOUD welcomes artist, composer, and writer Paul D. Miller – also known as DJ Spooky – for a performance and conversation about Afrofuturism. And closing out the season on Tuesday, Feb. 24, two writers who studied fine art – Bernard Cooper (My Avant-Garde Education) and Benjamin Weissman (Headless) – discuss their personal transitions as visual artists to writers now returning to visual art.

The entire ALOUD Winter 2014-2015 calendar will be made available to the public at lfla.org/aloud on Nov. 7, 2014, where you can make reservations to attend.

Main image: Carlos Santana (credit: RUBÉN MARTÍN)

 

An Evening with Colm Tóibín and Rachel Kushner

It’s a rare treat to find two authors from seemingly opposite ends of the literary spectrum come together over a deep respect and fascination of each other’s work. In a special pairing on Thursday, November 6, critically acclaimed Irish novelist Colm Tóibín will be interviewed by New York Times bestselling L.A. local Rachel Kushner.  They will take the stage at the Writers Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills for a conversation about Tóibín’s new novel, Nora Webster,  and to discuss their shared passion for some of literature’s most memorable characters.

Tóibín’s latest novel, Nora Webster, is a masterful portrait of a young Irish widow and mother of four’s transformation through grief. In Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, a gutsy young artist arrives in New York in 1977 driven to take risks at any cost. Hear these two luminous storytellers discuss and interpret each other’s fierce female protagonists following in the footsteps of the great Madame Bovary and Hedda Gabler. Learn more about getting tickets here, and to get ready for this special event we’ve gathered a few interesting reads below on Tóibín and Kushner’s latest novels.

Critics are around the globe are praising Tóibín’s Nora Webster:

–Jennifer Egan is stunned by its “high-wire act” as she writes in The New York Times’ Sunday Book Review.

–Although you can check out Nora Webster from the Los Angeles Public Library, Kirkus Reviews says don’t borrow, buy this starred “pitch-perfect sonata of a novel.”

The Guardian calls it an “an Irish love story and a love letter to Irish readers from one of Ireland’s contemporary masters.”

–And if you loved Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary, The Washington Post says Nora Webster is even more “believable and, ultimately, more miraculous.”

Critics also unanimously agreed in their adimiration for Kushner’s The Flamethrowers:

–In The New Yorker, James Wood describes it as “scintillatingly alive, and also alive to artifice.”

New York Magazine applauded Kushner in their 2013 “Culture Awards” because she “willfully stands apart” from the literary institution.

–And check out this special curation of art and photography by Kushner in The Paris Review.

Colm Tóibín is the author of seven novels, including The Blackwater Lightship; The Master (winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize); and Brooklyn (winner of the Costa Book Award); as well as two story collections and several books of essays, including Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar. The stage production of his novel, The Testament of Mary, starring Fiona Shaw, ran on Broadway in 2013, earning three Tony nominations. Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York, where he is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia. His newest book is Nora Webster: A Novel.

Rachel Kushner is the author of two novels, Telex from Cuba and The Flamethrowers. Both received rave reviews, were shortlisted for the National Book Award, and were New York Times bestsellers.

Learn more about the upcoming ALOUD event.