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A Life in Books at the Bay Area Book Festival

May 6, 2023 | 11:00 am 12:00 pm

Each of us has a different, and beautiful, relationship with the books we read…and write. That is no less true if you’ve just published your first, as legendary librarian Dorothy Lazard has with her memoir What You Don’t Know Will Make a Whole New World, than it is for Joan Frank, with a dozen publications and multiple fellowships under her belt.

It’s also true, of course, for Pulitzer Prize winners like Jane Smiley, long acclaimed as one of America’s preeminent novelists. Frank’s most recent collection, Late Work: A Literary Autobiography of Love, Loss, and What I Was Reading, has been hailed as “one of the best books on writing and the writing life I have ever read” (Joel Agee, author of The Stone World). Smiley, perhaps best known for her fiction, has been known to pen the occasional nonfiction bestseller as well. Her latest, The Questions that Matter Most: Reading, Writing, and the Exercise of Freedom, is a deep dive into her own personal journey and craft.

In her memoir, Lazard describes discovering the power of books during the turbulent 1960s and 70s in Oakland, and then sharing that power with countless children and others. Each of these authors has had a decades-long love affair with books; in this session, moderated by literary champion extraordinaire John Freeman, they’ll tell you not only what they were reading, but how it affected them and their work.Add to Calendar

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About the Speakers

Dorothy Lazard

Dorothy Lazard

Dorothy Lazard was born in St. Louis and grew up in San Francisco and Oakland. A librarian for forty years, she joined the staff of the Oakland Public Library in 2000. From 2009 until her retirement in 2021, she was the head librarian of OPL’s Oakland History Center, where she encouraged people of all ages and backgrounds to explore local history. Lazard was the 2023 recipient of the Oscar Lewis Award in Western History from the Book Club of California. She lives in Oakland. Photo by Gene Dominique.

Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley is a novelist and essayist. Her novel A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992, and her novel The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton won the 1999 Spur Award for Best Novel of the West. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1987. Her novel Horse Heaven was short-listed for the Orange Prize in 2002, and her novel Some Luck was longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award. She has written for numerous magazines and newspapers, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, Harper’s, and the Nation. Her most recent novel, A Dangerous Business, was published in 2022. She lives in Carmel Valley, California.


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