Northern California boasts nearly 300 independent booksellers. The Bay Area is home to dozens of publishers large and small, print and digital. On any given night of the year, word-nerds take in a literary event somewhere in the city. People are reading books all over the region, at all hours of the day and night. At Litquake, we are asked all the time, why is San Francisco and the Bay Area so obsessed with literature?
There is no simple answer. Or rather, there are a number of possible answers. First and foremost, the fog sets the mood, perfect weather for reading and writing (and tweeting—check out @KarlTheFog!). We are surrounded by universities and libraries. The city offers a long history of groundbreaking West Coast literature, from Mark Twain reading his work at McGuire’s Academy of Music theater on Pine Street, to the San Francisco Renaissance, the Beats, the poetry festivals of the 1970s, the 1980s spoken-word scene, and the ever-growing list of MFA programs. Clearly we are mad for literature. It’s only appropriate there should be a Litquake.
This year marks our 16th as a festival, with year-round programming and writing classes, a podcast heard in 100 countries, and Lit Crawl affiliates in several cities (welcome, Portland!). Enormous gratitude to everyone in the Bay Area literary community for helping create and sustain the largest literary festival west of the Mississippi. Our goal is to reflect the intelligence, talent, and eclectic taste of our local writers and booklovers. And so our 2015 schedule takes care to showcase over 800 authors from all over the Bay Area, the U.S., and the world.
You can hear African, Danish, French, and German authors in conversation, panel discussions about gentrification or the future of the environment, Pulitzer winners arguing fiction vs. nonfiction, drag queens reading celebrity tweets, or impassioned discourse on the rights of animals. You can enjoy our first-ever smorgasbord of panels of bestselling chefs and tastings from their bestselling cookbooks. You can watch theater shows celebrating Hawai’ian culture, a commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, or the annual Barbary Coast Award honoring the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. As always, you can enjoy bestselling authors, or those who have never been published. You can seek inspiration at multiple events for aspiring writers. Your children can meet authors and receive free books. And on our closing night, you can visit the Mission District and stroll along the world’s largest Lit Crawl.
Please note that all events listed in this guide take place in San Francisco unless otherwise indicated. Purchase links for all events featuring advance tickets can be found online at litquake.org. Books will be for sale when possible and appropriate, and venues with handicapped access are noted. Our primary San Francisco event spaces are Z Space (450 Florida St. @ 17th), Z Below (470 Florida St. @ 17th), and Make-Out Room (3225 22nd St. @ Mission), with more festival events taking place throughout the East Bay, South Bay, and North Bay.
Enjoy the festival!
—Co-founders Jack Boulware and Jane Ganahl, Managing Director Jen Siraganian