Litquake runs Oct. 6-15 and begins with an opening-night gala celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare, with poet Gary Soto, harpist Shelley Phillips and a special performance by San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. Dressing up is encouraged.
Here are some of the highlights of the festival:
Saturday: Litquake San Rafael returns for the third year, with a day full of free events in the city’s downtown plaza. In San Francisco, the Off the Richter Scale series features hour-long programs, such as a poetry hour with Teow Goh, Emilia Phillips, Margaret Ross, Solmaz Sharif and Tess Taylor. In the evening, “I Thought It Sucked: One-Star Reviews of Best-Loved Books” is a sure thing, with the likes of Kelly Anneken and Na’amen Tilahun, and “Gonzo: 50 Years of Hunter S. Thompson” celebrates 50 years since the publication of “Hell’s Angels,” with Alan Rinzler, Pia Hinckle, Juan Thompson, Gary Kamiya, Cintra Wilson and Susie Bright, as well as the Bay Area premiere screening of “Gonzo @ the Derby.”
Sunday: A free, all-day arts festival in the Mount Tamalpais amphitheater features readings by Dana Gioia, Jane Hirshfield, Kim Stanley Robinson, Alejandro Murgía and many more, as well as music by Classical Revolution and dance by Anna Halprin; conversations between Michelle Tea and Daniel Handler, Arisa White and Robin Coste Lewis; the popular Barely Published Authors series; a table reading of Robert Mailer Anderson’s new play “The Death of Teddy Ballgame”; “Latina Fiction: Politics, Social Justice, and Sexuality”; an LGBTQ spotlight in the Castro, with Rabih Alameddine and Meliza Bañales; a literary biking tour of San Francisco; and “Equality or Progress: Urban Development in the Bay Area.”
Monday: Emma Cline reads from and discusses her much-talked-about debut novel, “The Girls,” and Word for Word presents staged performances of verbatim excerpts from Maxine Hong Kingston’s “Woman Warrior” and “China Men,” directed by Eugenia Chan.
Tuesday: San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House hosts an unusual book launch for Colin Dickey’s “Ghostland.” At the American Bookbinders Museum, four Pulitzer Prize winners will be in conversation: Jane Smiley, Robert Hass, Richard Rhodes and T.J. Stiles. At the Make-Out Room, Adobe Books, Alley Cat Books, Dog Eared Books and Modern Times Bookstore Collective come together for music and readings in celebration of their common interests in the historic Latino Cultural District. In Oakland, Yaa Gyasi discusses and reads from her debut novel, “Homegoing.”
Wednesday: Litquake presents its inaugural brown-bag lunch, featuring Stanford Professor Roland Greene speaking on the Renaissance and Baroque worlds of Miguel de Cervantes. If you want a seat for the popular annual event “Straight, No Chaser: Writers at the Bar,” you need to get to Vesuvio Cafe at least an hour early (it starts at 7 p.m.). “Poetry World Series” consists of two teams of poets going head to head on a series of spontaneously announced themes, with D.A. Powell and Katie Peterson judging Kim Addonizio, Malachi Black, Douglas Kearney, Raina J. León, Julia Levine and Javier Zamora. “Writing Indigenous Experiences” features Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Alison Owings, Kim Shuck, Lindsie Bear and Greg Sarris, and “Who’s Laughing Now? A Night of Funny Females,” co-presented by SF Sketchfest, features novelist Jade Chang, comedians Phoebe Robinson (2 Dope Queens), Karinda Dobbins, and Caitlin Gill and Beth Lisick.
Thursday: This year’s Litquake’s Barbary Coast Award will honor a range of people and organizations: Maxine Hong Kingston and Alejandro Murguí, Thomas Sanchez, Jewelle Gomez, Michael Krasny, the Threepenny Review, the Bancroft Library, Paul Yamazaki and the late Justin Chin. Hosted by Will Durst, with live music from the Patrick Wolff Quartet.
Friday: Stephen Elliott and Tom Barbash will be in conversation, and poets Chinaka Hodge, devorah major and RyanNicole will join Afro-futurist jazz trio Broun Fellinis at Doc’s Lab. Also of note: Wonder Dave will host “Reading Roulette: Literary Karaoke With a Twist.”
Saturday: Lit Crawl concludes the festival, with almost 100 events spread throughout the Mission District over the course of three hour-long phases — the only way to go wrong is not to go.