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Checking out the fall literary scene
by Kelsey Hoff
2018-09-19

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Book lovers have a lot to look forward to this fall; literary festivals will bring small presses and authors from all over the country to Chicago.

The annual Chicago Lit Crawl brings readings, presentations and performances to Andersonville Saturday, Sept. 22, and the Chicago Book Expo returns to Columbia College Chicago Monday, Oct. 1. Pilsen Community Books hosts their first annual fair Oct. 5-7. Volumes Bookcafe celebrates famous Chicago-born poet Shel Silverstein's birthday Tuesday, Sept. 25 with a Shel-a-bration featuring magicians, musicians, poets and performers.

2018 has been a great year for Chicago authors, and fall releases and events will keep the literary momentum going.

Poet Eve Ewing releases her nonfiction book Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side in October with a launch party Thursday, Oct. 18 at the Chicago Teachers Union. The book covers the 2013 closing of 53 Bronzeville schools and its aftermath.

Julian Randall's Refuse, winner of the 2017 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, navigates the mythos of Blackness, Latinidad, family and sexuality during the Obama administration. Randall will discuss his forthcoming book with Tara Betts at Seminary Co-Op in Hyde Park Friday, Sept. 21. Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers launches Tuesday, Sept. 25 in the Screening Room at the Logan Arts Center; the event includes a reading, book-signing and panel discussion with special guests Barbara Ransby and Janae Bonsu.

Haymarket Books is releasing three books by Chicago poets: H. Melt's On My Way To Liberation, Britteney Black Rose Kapri's Black Queer Hoe and Jose Olivarez's Citizen Illegal.

Women & Children First will host many of fall's most exciting book launches, including a joint reading by Kapri and Olivarez Friday, Oct. 5. Daniel K. Hertz will read from his new book The Battle of Lincoln Park: Urban Renewal and Gentrification in Chicago Friday, Oct. 19. Anne Balay's Semi Queer: Inside the World of Gay, Trans, and Black Truck Drivers launches with a reading Friday, Sept. 28. Photographer Jess T. Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre, social worker and assistant professor at Washington University, will be present for a panel discussion of their book To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults, along with participants Gloria Allen, Mickey Mahoney and Alexis Martinez on Sunday, Sept. 30. Night Moves by Jessica Hopper debuts on Thursday, Sept. 20; this memoir reconstructed from journal entries of a Chicago DJ circa 2004-2009 reflects on Hopper's beginnings as a rock critic.

Oct. 13-20, the Lit & Luz Festival brings together renowned authors and visual artists from Chicago and Mexico City in cultural exchange and conversation with readings, discussions, artist talks and performances. The Poetry Foundation will host an event during the Lit & Luz Festival Wednesday, Oct. 17, and MAKE Literary Productions will host a bilingual conversation between the two featured Mexican authors Fernanda Melchor and JuliÃín Herbert at The Hideout Friday, Oct. 19.

Literary exhibits allow bookworms to interact with their favorite reads in new ways: A Johnson Publishing Story continues through Sept. 30 at Stony Island Arts Bank, featuring more than 15,000 items preserved from the Johnson Publishing Company. Founded in Chicago in 1942, it was best known for periodicals Ebony and Jet, which helped define and popularize a Black aesthetic and identity around the globe.

In November, The American Writers Museum will open a temporary exhibit featuring Bob Dylan in addition to the current exhibit, Frederick Douglass: Agitator, which is open through December. The Dylan exhibit will focus on his enduring influence on American culture, music and writing, as well as his historic Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. A Fender electric guitar that he played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 will be on display, and a series of intimate events featuring current singer/songwriters in genres from hip-hop to folk begins in September.

Readings around the city will highlight Chicago's writers: Local Author Night at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square features Rebecca Harwell, Keith O'Brien, Frances de Pontes Peebles and Kathleen Rooney on Wed., Sept. 19. C. Riley Snorton and Joshua Chambers-Letson will read from their books Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity and After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life at Women & Children First on Wed., Oct. 3. Boston author Robert W. Fieseler will visit Unabridged Bookstore for a conversation with Owen Keehnen regarding his book Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation on Wed., Oct. 10.


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