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Lidia Yuknavich in conversation with Lance Olsen

February 25, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PST

reading from their work and talking about literature

Lidia Yuknavich celebrates the paperback release of

Verge: stories

published by Riverhead Books

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Bustle and Lit Hub

A fiercely empathetic group portrait of the marginalized and outcast in moments of crisis, from one of the most galvanizing voices in American fiction


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.


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Lidia Yuknavitch is a writer of rare insight into the jagged boundaries between pain and survival. Her characters are scarred by the unchecked hungers of others and themselves, yet determined to find salvation within lives that can feel beyond their control. In novels such as The Small Backs of Children and The Book of Joan, she has captivated readers with stories of visceral power. Now, in Verge, she offers a shard-sharp mosaic portrait of human resilience on the margins.The landscape of Verge is peopled with characters who are innocent and imperfect, wise and endangered: an eight-year-old black-market medical courier, a restless lover haunted by memories of his mother, a teenage girl gazing out her attic window at a nearby prison, all of them wounded but grasping toward transcendence. Clear-eyed yet inspiring, Verge challenges us with moments of uncomfortable truth, even as it urges us to place our faith not in the flimsy guardrails of society but in the memories held—and told—by our own individual bodies.

My Red Heavenpublished by Dzanc Books

Set on a single day in 1927, My Red Heaven imagines a host of characters―some historic, some invented―crossing paths on the streets of Berlin.

The subjects include Robert Musil, Otto Dix, Werner Heisenberg, Anita Berber, Vladimir Nabokov, Käthe Kollwitz, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Rosa Luxemburg―as well as others history has forgotten: a sommelier, a murderer, a prostitute, a pickpocket, and several ghosts.

Drawing inspiration from Otto Freundlich’s painting by the same name, My Red Heaven explores a complex moment in history: the rise of deadly populism at a time when everything seemed possible and the future unimaginable. A terrific read for fans of Richard Powers’ The Overstory and Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin.

Lidia Yuknavitch is the nationally bestselling author of the novels The Book of JoanThe Small Backs of Children, and Dora: A Headcase, and of the memoir The Chronology of Water. She is the recipient of two Oregon Book Awards and has been a finalist for the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize and the PEN Center USA Creative Nonfiction Award. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Lance Olsen is author of more than 25 books of and about innovative writing, including, most recently, the novel Dreamlives of Debris. His short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, such as Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, Fiction International, BOMB, McSweeney’s, and Best American Non-Required Reading. A Guggenheim, Berlin Prize, D.A.A.D. Artist-in-Berlin Residency, N.E.A. Fellowship, and Pushcart Prize recipient, as well as a Fulbright Scholar, he teaches experimental narrative theory and practice at the University of Utah, where he directs the creative writing program.

“At several points while reading Verge, I found myself curled into a ball, my fingers gripping the pages so tightly they almost tore the paper. It was as if the words had crawled off the page and under my skin.”  —Cornelia Channing, The Paris Review

“Full of suspense . . . Young or old, male or female, the characters in Verge will shock and impress themselves onto the reader.” —LitHub

“This book is a gem. . . . A brilliant collection of twenty stories that contain as much compassion as suffering . . . In Yuknavitch’s hands, words are both swords and feathers. . . . She writes with a sensibility that is both blunt and empathic, as if to open the reader’s heart and make it bleed.” —Ms. Magazine

“Diverse and impactful, unlike some collections, where only a few stories shine . . . Verge boldly asks some pressing yet unspoken questions, such as: How is it that Americans can say anything with a straight face? Does it hurt more to keep the secrets or tell them? It also forces us to acknowledge—and even embrace—the unsettling answers.” San Francisco Chronicle

“Dynamite. . . . I don’t know of any other writer who can render the brutality of life with such honesty and dazzle. . . . That Lidia Yuknavitch can create such beauty out of the tragedy of contemporary life is testament to her skill as an artist. Verge is volatile and vital, and it hits where it hurts, in the most oddly pleasurable way.” —Lambda Literary

“Lidia Yuknavitch displays the same gift for exploring the borderland between art, sex, and trauma that readers have come to expect . . . . [turning] her powers toward life on the margins.” —The Millions 

“Yuknavitch writes with rare empathy about the repercussions of grief, loss and dislocation.” —Jane Ciabattari, BBC Culture

“Disturbing and delightful all at once.” —BookRiot

“With the publication of Verge, Yuknavitch’s writing flies into hyperspace. . . . [Verge is] an act of courage and urgency. The book is historically specific, yet ultimately timeless.” —The Brooklyn Rail

“Brilliant. . . . Consistently incisive, with sharp sentences and a barreling pace. . . . This riveting collection invites readers to see women whose points of view are typically ignored.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Insistently visceral . . . These howls from the throats of women, queer characters, the impoverished, and the addicted remind us of the beauty and pain of our shared humanity. Gutsy stories from one of our most fearless writers.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A vertiginous and revelatory book whose characters—sometimes in desperate situations, and sometimes, finally, in a place of safety—have much to say about the world that we live in now. Lidia Yuknavitch is astonishing.”
 —Kelly Link 

Verge is a wonderful, challenging book. I know these people. I know their dilemmas, and where I don’t recognize them, I believe them. The passion Lidia Yuknavitch brings to the page is astounding. I am caught up, shaken up, and now and then simply delighted. ‘Listen to this,’ I call out to friends, and then, minutes later: ‘No, wait, listen to this!’”
—Dorothy Allison       


February 25, 2021
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PST
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City Lights Books