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Barry Gifford in conversation with Rob Christopher

September 23, 2020 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT

celebrates the release of his new book

Roy’s World: Stories 1973-2020

published by Seven Stories Press

In a special presentation, Barry Gifford will be joined by flimmaker Rob Christopher to explore the rich landscape of his seminal Roy Stores, a tie-in to the new documentary, Roy’s WorldBarry Gifford’s Chicago, directed by Rob Christopher narrated by Lili Taylor, Matt Dillon and Willem Dafoe, these stories comprise one of Barry Gifford’s most enduring works, his homage to the gritty Chicago landscape of his youth.

To learn more about the film debut of Rob Christopher’s Roy’s World: Barry Gifford’s Chicago visit:


This is a virtual event that will be hosted by City Lights on the Zoom platform. You will need access to a computer or other device that is capable of accessing the internet. If you have not used Zoom before, you may consider referencing Getting Started with Zoom.


Event is free, but registration is required.

(Click Here) to register.


(Click Here) to purchase book (link to be posted soon!)


Barry Gifford has been writing the story of America in acclaimed novel after acclaimed novel for the last half-century. At the same time, he’s been writing short stories, his “Roy stories,” that show America from a different vantage point, a certain mix of innocence and worldliness. Reminiscent of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Ernest Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, Gifford’s Roy stories amount to the coming-of-age novel he never wrote, and are one of his most important literary achievements—time-pieces that preserve the lost worlds of 1950s Chicago and the American South, the landscape of postwar America seen through the lens of a boy’s steady gaze.

The twists and tragedies of the adult world seem to float by like curious flotsam, like the show girls from the burlesque house next door to Roy’s father’s pharmacy who stop by when they need a little help, or Roy’s mom and the husbands she weds and then sheds after Roy’s Jewish mobster father’s early death. Life throws Roy more than the usual curves, but his intelligence and curiosity shape them into something unforeseen, while Roy’s complete lack of self-pity allow the stories to seem to tell themselves.

The author of more than forty works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, which have been translated into over twenty-five languages, Barry Gifford writes distinctly American stories for readers around the globe. From screenplays and librettos to his acclaimed Sailor and Lula novels, Gifford’s writing is as distinctive as it is difficult to classify. Born in the Seneca Hotel on Chicago’s Near North Side, he relocated in his adolescence to New Orleans. The move proved significant: throughout his career, Gifford’s fiction—part-noir, part-picaresque, always entertaining—is born of the clash between what he has referred to as his “Northern Side” and “Southern Side.” Gifford has been recipient of awards from PEN, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. His novel Wild at Heart was adapted into the 1990 Palme d’Or-winning film of the same name. Gifford lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Rob Christopher wrote, directed, and starred in the acclaimed fiction feature Pause of the Clock, which had its World Premiere at the Denver Film Festival in 2015 and screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center in 2016. In January 2017 it was nominated for “Best Chicago Film” by the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. He wrote the introduction to the young adult edition of Sad Stories of the Death of Kings by Barry Gifford and edited several Roy stories for publication on the website Chicagoist. He is also author of the book Queue Tips: Discovering Your Next Great Movie and has written articles for such publications as the Chicago Reader and American Libraries. His film writing frequently appears in Cine-File Chicago.

What has been said about the work of Barry Gifford:

“Barry Gifford is a killer f**kin’ writer …Roy’s World captures his childhood and that time in Chicago, and many other places. I really enjoyed watching it and then contemplating what goes on inside a person with this history. I really love that world and the things that can happen there.” —David Lynch

“Nearly every Gifford story opens a Pandora’s Box of uncontrollable emotions. There’s no one like Barry Gifford, which is the best reason to read him.” —Richard Dyer, in The Boston Globe


September 23, 2020
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT
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City Lights Books