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Book Passage’s

Conversations with Authors

Live sessions with the writers and thinkers most committed to America’s independent bookstores

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Coming Up Next

Saturday, October 24th

7:00 pm est/4:00 pm pst

in conversation with Sheila Heti

Claire Messud‘s latest release Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write opens a window on her own life: a peripatetic upbringing; a warm, complicated family; and, throughout it all, her devotion to art and literature.

Claire is a recipient of Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Author of six works of fiction including, The Burning Girl, The Emperor’s Children, and The Woman Upstairs. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family.

Sheila Heti is the author of eight books of fiction and non-fiction, including the novels Motherhood,  How Should a Person Be? and Ticknor, and the story collection, The Middle Stories. She was named one of “The New Vanguard” by The New York Times; a list of fifteen women writers from around the world who are “shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.”

Her books have been translated into twenty-two languages. Her most recent novel, Motherhood, was chosen by the book critics at the New York Times as one of their top books of 2018, and New York magazine chose it as the best book of the Year. Her novel, How Should a Person Be? was named one of the 12 “New Classics of the 21st century” by Vulture. It was a New York Times Notable Book, a best book of the year in The New Yorker, and was cited by Time as “one of the most talked-about books of the year.”

Deborah Tannen

Welcome to Conversations with Authors!

For more than 40 years, Book Passage has been the welcoming home for readers. And now, we’re pleased to share a remarkable schedule of conversations with many of our favorite authors—many long-time friends of Book Passage—well beyond the Bay Area.

Please join us here each week together with great authors and thinkers to share ideas and celebrate our community. These live, free, intimate conversations explore what it means to be living through these times, and what it means to stay connected to the people and the ideas that bind us.

Register once, and you’re guaranteed a seat at every upcoming Conversations with Authors event. You’ll be invited to help shape each session in advance by prioritizing the issues we discuss, and you’ll have the chance to ask additional questions during each conversation. You can also view the free archive of any event you might have missed, any time you like.

Welcome to Conversations with Authors!

Join us live.

Register once, and join us for every upcoming conversation.

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Sunday, October 18th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Isabel Allende

Lan Cao’s dual first-person memoir, Family In Six Tones  — co-authored with her American daughter Harlan Margaret Van Cao — explores their complicated relationship, culture clash and how they have grown both as individuals and as a family.

Lan is a Vietnamese American writer who left Saigon for the U.S. as a refugee in 1975. She is the author of two other novels, Monkey Bridge and The Lotus and the Storm. Both novels tell the stories of Vietnamese refugees in America, set against the Vietnam War and its traumatic aftermath for those who are left with its haunting legacy. In both novels, the war is told from a Vietnamese American perspective.

Lan is also a professor of law and has taught at Brooklyn Law School, Michigan Law School, Duke Law School, William & Mary Law School. She is currently working at Chapman Law School in Orange, CA. She has written numerous articles on public international law, international trade, and rule of law development. Her book Culture in Law and Development: Nurturing Positive Change was published by Oxford University Press in 2015.

Isabel Allende —novelist, feminist, and philanthropist—is one of the most widely-read authors in the world, having sold more than 74 million books. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she won worldwide acclaim in 1982 with the publication of her hugely popular first novel, The House of the Spirits. In addition to her work as a writer, Allende devotes much of her time to human rights causes.

Saturday, October 24th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Sheila Heti

Claire Messud‘s latest release Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write opens a window on her own life: a peripatetic upbringing; a warm, complicated family; and, throughout it all, her devotion to art and literature.

Claire is a recipient of Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Author of six works of fiction including, The Burning Girl, The Emperor’s Children, and The Woman Upstairs. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family.

Sheila Heti is the author of eight books of fiction and non-fiction, including the novels Motherhood,  How Should a Person Be? and Ticknor, and the story collection, The Middle Stories. She was named one of “The New Vanguard” by The New York Times; a list of fifteen women writers from around the world who are “shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.”

Her books have been translated into twenty-two languages. Her most recent novel, Motherhood, was chosen by the book critics at the New York Times as one of their top books of 2018, and New York magazine chose it as the best book of the Year. Her novel, How Should a Person Be? was named one of the 12 “New Classics of the 21st century” by Vulture. It was a New York Times Notable Book, a best book of the year in The New Yorker, and was cited by Time as “one of the most talked-about books of the year.”

Sunday, October 25th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Jan Yanehiro

Marilyn Chase’s compelling new biography, Everything She Touched, recounts the life of WWII prison camp survivor Ruth Asawa, who broke barriers of race and gender to become an artist of genius. 

Marilyn is an author, journalist and teacher at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. After more than two decades as a reporter and columnist for The Wall Street Journal, focusing on health science, she returned to independent writing and teaching. She has taught narrative writing at her alma mater Stanford, as well as news, health, business and narrative writing as a Continuing Lecturer for her grad school at U.C. Berkeley. She is also the author of The Barbary Plague: the Black Death in Victorian San Francisco, which tells the story of a young public health doctor treating patients during an outbreak of bubonic plague in the city’s Chinatown in 1900.

Jan Yanehiro is a well renowned broadcast journalist who has won several Emmys for her work. She has also co-authored three books including This is Not The Life I Ordered.

Wednesday, October 28th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Tom Barbash

Mikel Jollett‘s remarkable new memoir of a tumultuous life, Hollywood Park, is both the story of a man born into one of the country’s most infamous cults and subjected to a childhood filled with poverty, addiction, and emotional abuse; and the story of fierce love and family loyalty told in a raw, poetic voice that signals the emergence of a uniquely gifted writer

Mikel is the frontman of the indie band The Airborne Toxic Event. Prior to forming the band, he graduated with honors from Stanford University. Mikel was an on-air columnist for NPR’s All Things Considered, an editor-at-large for Men’s Health and an editor at Filter magazine. His fiction has been published in McSweeney’s.

Tom Barbash is the author of the novels The Dakota Winters and  The Last Good Chance and the non-fiction books On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, and 9/11; A Story of Loss and Renewal, which was a New York Times bestseller. His stories and articles have been published in Tin House, McSweeney’s, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other publications, and have been performed on National Public Radio’s Selected Shorts series. He currently teaches in the MFA program at California College of the Arts. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and now lives in Marin County, California

Saturday, November 7th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Peter Coyote

Anthony Lee Head’s debut novel, Driftwood: Stories from the Margarita Road, tells the story of modern-day runaways escaping the rat race and heading to a tropical paradise in search of a fresh start — a timely  antidote for anyone who has grown weary of quarantines and sheltering in place.

Anthony knows firsthand the challenges of the expat lifestyle. In a fit of middle-aged madness, he gave up an established career as a trial lawyer in San Francisco to travel 3500 miles to tropical Mexico, where for a decade he and his wife ran a small hotel and a margarita bar near the Caribbean Sea. That adventure became the inspiration for this book. Anthony now lives in San Rafael, California with his wife and an embarrassingly large number of Mexican rescue dogs and cats. He is currently working on both a memoir and a new novel.

Peter Coyote‘s memoir of the 1960’s counter-culture Sleeping Where I Fall which received universally excellent reviews, and has been in continuous print since 1999. His second book, The Rainman’s Third Cure: An Irregular Education, about mentors and the search for wisdom, was nominated as one of the top five non-fiction books published in California in 2015. His third book, Unmasking Your True Self (the Lone Ranger and Tonto Meet the Buddha) conflates 50 years of Buddhist practice and acting and uses masks and improv exercises to foster liberation experiences and teach people “how to get out of their own way.” It will be released by Inner Traditions Press in early 2020, and so will his first book of poems, The Tongue of a Crow.

Peter has performed as an actor in over 160 films for theaters and TV. He is a double Emmy-Award winning narrator of over 150 documentary films. An ordained Zen Buddhist priest and transmitted teacher, Peter is currently giving live weekly dharma talks on Facebook, preparing for a fourth book called Vernacular Buddhism.

Sunday, November 8th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Cathleen Shine

Elizabeth Strout‘s latest, Olive Again, continues the life of her beloved Olive Kitteridge, a character who has captured the imaginations of millions.

Elizabeth is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Olive Kitteridge, winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Olive, Again, an Oprah’s Book Club pick; Anything Is Possible, winner of the Story Prize; My Name is Lucy Barton, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize; The Burgess Boys, named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and NPR; Abide with Me, a national bestseller; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize.

She has also been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the International Dublin Literary Award, and the Orange Prize. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine. Elizabeth lives in New York City.

Cathleen Schine most recent work is the best-selling novel The Grammarians. She is also the author of The Love Letter, Rameau’s Niece, Alice in Bed, To the Bird House, The Evolution of Jane, She is Me, The New Yorkers, The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Fin & Lady, They May Not Mean To, But They Do. In addition to novels she has written articles for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and The New York Times Book Review, among other publications. Her essays have been included in Best American Essays 2005, Fierce Pajamas, an Anthology of New Yorker Humor, and The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs. She grew up in Westport, Ct. and lives in Venice, California.

Wednesday, November 11th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Erin Gleeson

Andrea Bemis’ second cookbook, Local Dirt: Seasonal Recipes for Eating Close to Home is a dazzling collection of inventive recipes using farm-fresh ingredients, inspired by her commitment to supporting the local food movement.

Andrea is the writer, recipe developer, and photographer behind the food blog and cookbook Dishing Up The Dirt. Andrea’s recipes focus on using whole, locally-sourced foods—incorporating the philosophy of eating as close to the land as possible. Her recipes have been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Well and Good NYC, and Eating Well Magazine. She lives and runs a sixty-acre organic farm outside of Portland, Oregon with her husband and their dog.

Erin Gleeson is the author, illustrator, and photographer behind the New York Times bestselling cookbook The Forest Feast, The Forest Feast for Kids, The Forest Feast Gatherings, The Forest Feast Mediterranean and the popular blog by the same name. Erin teaches Photography in Continuing Studies at Stanford University and lives in a cabin in the woods in Northern California.

Saturday, November 14th

7:00est/4:00pst

Naomi Wolf‘s latest release, Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love explores the history of state-sponsored censorship and violations of personal freedoms through the inspiring, forgotten history of one writer’s refusal to stay silenced.

Naomi made a sensation with her landmark international bestseller The Beauty Myth in 1991. She’s lectured widely on the themes in Outrages, presenting lectures on John Addington Symonds at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, at Balliol College, Oxford, and to the undergraduates in the English Faculty at the University of Oxford. Naomi has written eight nonfiction bestsellers about women’s issues and civil liberties, including Vagina: A New Biography, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot and Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. She is also the cofounder and president of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership. She lives in New York City.

Monday, November 16th

7:00est/4:00pst

Thomas Keller‘s newest release, The French Laundry, Per Se is filled with meticulously detailed recipes for 70 beloved dishes that will change how young chefs, determined home cooks, and dedicated food lovers understand and approach their cooking.

Thomas is the author of Bouchon, Under Pressure, Ad Hoc at Home, and Bouchon Bakery and has six restaurants and five bakeries in the United States. He is the first and only American chef to have two Michelin Guide three-star-rated restaurants, the French Laundry and Per Se, both of which continue to rank among the best restaurants in America and the world. In 2011 he was designated a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, the first American male chef to be so honored. He has received countless accolades, including The Culinary Institute of America’s “Chef of the Year” Award and the James Beard Foundation’s “Outstanding Chef” and “Outstanding Restaurateur” Awards.

Wednesday, November 18th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Amy Tan

Deborah Tannen’s newest release, Finding My Father: His Century-Long Journey from World War I Warsaw and My Quest to Follow, traces her father’s life from turn-of-the-century Warsaw to New York City in an intimate memoir about family, memory, and the stories we tell.

Deborah is University Professor and Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University and author of many books and articles about how the language of everyday conversation affects relationships.  She is best known as the author of New York Time Bestseller, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. This is the book that brought gender differences in communication style to the forefront of public awareness.

In addition to her eight books for general audiences, Deborah is author or editor of sixteen books and over one hundred articles for scholarly audiences. She is also a frequent guest on television and radio news and has been featured in and written for most major newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, HuffPost, Newsweek, Time, USA Today, People, and The Harvard Business Review. She lives with her husband in the Washington, D.C., area.

Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club remains a classic examination of the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. Her other novels are The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and The Valley of Amazement (2013), all New York Times bestsellers. She is also the author of a memoir, The Opposite of Fate, two children’s books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat and numerous articles for magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, and National Geographic.

Saturday, November 21st

7:00est/4:00pst

Deborah Madison’s An Onion in My Pocket: My Life With Vegetables is a warm, bracingly honest memoir that gives us an insider’s look at the vegetarian movement.

Deborah is the author of 14 cookbooks and countless articles on food, cooking, and farming. She is revered for bringing vegetarian cooking to a wide audience, including non-vegetarians, via Greens restaurant and her cookbooks. A bestselling author, her first cookbook was The Greens Cookbook and her recent books include The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and Vegetable Literacy, which was awarded both a James Beard award and an IACP award. She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, painter Patrick McFarlin.

Sunday, November 22nd

7:00est/4:00pst

Jamie Ritchie, head of Sotheby’s wine, is proud to present The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia, an essential reference for oenophiles – long used as the go-to text for the prestigious Master Sommelier examination – and the most comprehensive guide to the world of wine, featuring authoritative information on the history, culture, geography, and taste of vintages around the globe.

Jamie became head of Sotheby’s global wine business in May of 2016. He joined Sotheby’s in London in 1990 and was responsible for launching Sotheby’s wine auctions in New York in 1994 and in Hong Kong in 2009. More recently, Mr. Ritchie was responsible for launching Sotheby’s Wine, a retail store and online wine business, becoming the only major global auctioneer offering fine wines at retail. He is also a respected authority in the wine market and has been regularly featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Forbes and Wine Spectator Magazine.

Wednesday, December 9th

7:00est/4:00pst

Paige Peterson‘s Blackie: The Horse Who Stood Still is (mostly) true tale of a horse who made standing stock-still a lifelong endeavor—while becoming a champion rodeo horse, a tourist favorite at Yosemite Park, a legendary environmental crusader, and the beloved mascot of one of America’s most beautiful towns, Tiburon, California, on the shores of San Francisco Bay.

Paige is an American artist, author and photojournalist who has written extensively about the Middle East. As a journalist, she has contributed to Marin Magazine, New York Social Diary and the National Council on U.S. Arab Relations. As an illustrator, she has collaborated on A Christmas Carol, adapted by Jesse Kornbluth, and Blackie: The Horse Who Stood Still, which she co-authored with Christopher Cerf. She and her two grown children live in New York.  She splits her time between New York City and Belvedere, California.

Saturday, December 12th

7:00est/4:00pst

Jane Smiley’s latest novel, Perestroika in Paris, is a captivating, brilliantly imaginative story of three extraordinary animals – and a young boy – whose lives intersect in Paris. 

Jane is the author of numerous novels, including A Thousand Acres, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and more recently, the New York Times best-selling Last Hundred Years Trilogy: Some Luck, Early Warning, and Golden Age. She is also the author of several works of nonfiction and books for young adults. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she has also received the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. Jane lives in Northern California.