It’s an all-female literary arts lineup for Seattle Arts & Readings in 2018-19, and other literary news


Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Literary Arts Series at Benaroya Hall will, for the first time, be comprised entirely of female writers, from Doris Kearns Goodwin to Valeria Luiselli to Alice Walker; SAL is also launching a series on journalism. And how successful was Seattle Independent Bookstore Day this year?

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Seattle Arts and Lectures announced its 31st season this week, with an immediately unique program: Its 2018/19 Literary Arts Series at Benaroya Hall will, for the first time, be entirely composed of women writers.

In a phone call earlier this week, SAL associate director Rebecca Hoogs told me the decision, prompted by the remarkable events of the past year, was in response to the #MeToo movement. “We believe that as readers, as an organization and as a community, we have the power to influence and change culture,” Hoogs said. “This gesture is our way of saying, ‘Women, we appreciate and celebrate your voices.’ ”

It’s all part of a three-year plan, Hoogs said, designed to positively influence the broader publishing community, encouraging the work of women, people of color and other traditionally marginalized voices. “We thought it was a way to make a strong public statement to the publishing community, that these are the voices we want to hear right now.”

The four names announced in the Literary Arts series (two more speakers to be announced later) are a diverse group. Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin will launch the series on October 1, just weeks after the publication of her latest non-fiction book, “Leadership in Turbulent Times,” in which she examines the leadership qualities of four presidents (Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson).

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Goodwin will be followed by novelist Barbara Kingsolver (“The Poisonwood Bible”), who will speak Oct. 25 about her upcoming novel, “Unsheltered.” Mexican author Valeria Luiselli, National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, appears April 27, 2019; his latest book is “Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions.” And Tayari Jones, author of Oprah’s Book Club Choice “An American Marriage” (A Great Read) and three other novels, will speak on May 14.

SAL’s poetry series will feature Alice Walker, Solmaz Sharif, Ilya Kaminsky, an eco-poetry evening, and Jericho Brown (an additional poetry speaker will be named later). Following Walker’s October 4 event in Benaroya, the series will move to Broadway Performance Hall. The Women You Need To Know series will feature historian Jill Lepore (whose new book is “These Truths: A History of the United States”) on October 12, and two additional speakers to be announced later.

And SAL presents something entirely new this year, also in response to current events: a series on journalism, created by journalists Timothy Egan and Sam Howe Verhovek. This series will bring CNN’s Van Jones, New York Times’ Dean Baquet and Washington Post’s Marty Baron to town (an additional speaker will be named later) to talk, Hoogs said, “about what’s happening with the media, politics and journalism and how these things have intersected in ways that they haven’t intersected before. Jones’ event is October 10; Baquet and Baron will speak in conversation on March 5.

Another change at SAL will be great news for young people: student pricing for subscriptions and individual tickets (a bargain) is now available to anyone aged 25 or under, with a valid ID. Full-time students of any age continue to be eligible. For more information on the new season of SAL or to purchase subscriptions (individual tickets go on sale July 16), see or call 206-621-2230, ext. ten.

In other book stories, Seattle Independent Bookstore Day April 28 was a resounding success; its organizers report that 500 avid readers completed the Marathon of 19 bookstores in one day, winning the title of Bookstore Champions and a 25% discount at all participating stores for the year. It was a big jump from last year’s total of 320 – despite the kind of rainy weather that usually keeps book lovers at home.

My longtime book club ran the marathon together this year; there are only four of us, so we fit in well in my Honda (I drove, Sarah navigated, and Arlene and Terri provided moral support and a snack from the back seat). We had a splendid time, driving a total of 110 miles to visit bookstores in Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, Edmonds, Bothell, Redmond, Kirkland, Mercer Island and many places in Seattle; thanks to good luck with ferry connections, the whole trip (with frequent breaks for book reading and bakeries) took around 12 hours.

Favorite moment of the day: We arrived at Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo just after they opened at 8am (special hours, I think, in honor of the day). A long line of people, clutching Independent Bookstore Day passports, squeezed out of the front door and down the block; all in a good mood despite the gray weather. A man walked out the door of the bookstore, looked up and saw the line. “Holy shithe said, amazed at the sight; a queue in a bookshop is not something you encounter every day. I think we all felt lucky to be part of it and to celebrate 19 delicious places where magic lives on shelves.


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