Mauro Javier Cardenas by Gabriella Angotti-Jones for The Chronicle

Litquake makes writers feel like rock stars

Now in its 17th year, Litquake began when a group of friends organized an afternoon of readings in Golden Gate Park. Over the years, it’s become a backbone of the Bay Area literary world, bringing together lovers of the written word over a 10-day festival that averages 10 events per night. It’s also grown into an organization that produces year-round author talks, readings and classes.

Several months ago, Litquake hired its first dedicated development director, Amy Kaminer, who had been with the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

“We’re finally getting a position in place that other nonprofits have from year three or something,” said Jane Ganahl, who co-founded Litquake with Jack Boulware. “But that’s how we’ve always done things; we’re still on a steep learning curve. When you get two journalists that decide to start a festival, every year it’s like, ‘Oh! Looks like we should have been doing this.’”

Sponsored by The Chronicle, Litquake has signed on with new partnering organizations this year, includingCalifornia Humanities, SFJazz and the American Bookbinders Museum. The festival is continuing its tradition of inviting authors who curate their own events. In homage to that spirit, they’ve branded this year’s festival “Your 100% Authentic, Homegrown, Free-Range, Farm-to-Table, Bespoke, Handcrafted, Non-Industrial, Non-GMO, Artisanal, Organic Literary Festival.”

Big names, some from distant lands, will attend the festival, as will plenty of regional authors.

Loren Rhoads, author of “The Dangerous Type,” recalled a standout Litquake experience: “I read vampire porn for Gravity Goldberg’s Instant City at Dalva one year,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever read for an audience that was so focused and so quiet, hanging on every word. This was at the height of ‘True Blood,’ so it might have just been the spirit of the time, but it was an amazing experience for me.”

Poet Meg Day, who lives in Britain, said, “It’s the only time I’ve ever truly felt like a rock star!”

And Cyn Cady, co-organizer of the Fairfax Pints & Prose, said, “Onstage, at the Latin American Club for ‘Barely Published’ a few years back, wearing a leopard coat that I had just grabbed at a Mission Street thrift store, I looked out at a sea of faces; the room was vibrating. The place was jammed, and I mean jammed. Since when does a barely published writer get to be the focus of that kind of attention?”

On Friday, Oct. 7., Shakespeare @ 400: Litquake’s Opening Night Gala is a chance to dress up and celebrate four centuries of the Bard.


Litquake: Thursday, Oct. 6, through Oct. 15, various locations throughout the Bay Area.

This article originally appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Photo by Joni Kabana

Evan Karp is the creator of Quiet Lightning and Twitter: @quiet_lightning

Other book events

Los Gatos, sister city to Listowel, Ireland, which hosts the Listowel Writers’ Week, presents the first-annual Los Gatos-Listowel Writers’ Festival, with many free events (Thursday, Oct. 6, through Sunday, various locations, Los Gatos, $100 for full pass).

McSweeney’s presents California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia with Zubair Ahmed (“City of Rivers”) andRebecca Lindenberg (“Love, an Index”) (6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, aMuse Gallery, 614 Alabama St., free).

Literary Death Match returns to Oakland as part of the weekend-long American Literary Translators Association conference, with readings by Bae Suah, Deborah Smith, Edward Gauvin and Becka McKay (6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, Ultra Shadow Lounge, 341 13th St., Oakland, $5).

Kearny Street Workshop presents its Literary Arts Showcase, part of its annual interdisciplinary APAture festival, which this year features Jade Cho and readings by Bel Poblador, Chang Woo Seo, Jazelle Jajeh, Laura Jew, Shivani Narang, Steve Fujimura, Susan Calvillo and Z.M. Quynh (8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, ARC Studios & Gallery, 1246 Folsom St., $5-10).

Alley Cat Books hosts a trio of readings by authors with new books: Lindsey Boldt (“<<(())>>,” Couch Press), Brandon Brown (“The Good Life,” Big Lucks), and Sara Larsen (“Merry Hell,” Atelos) (7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, 3036 24th St., free).

Michael Krasny reads from and discusses his new book “Let There Be Laughter” (5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9,Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, $20-25).