ZYZZYVA and The Booksmith present Lockdown Lit @ Lunch


Lockdown Literature, a collective of 80+ authors with new books published during the COVID-19 crisis, will partner with The Booksmith, one of San Francisco’s oldest independent bookstores, and the literary magazine ZYZZYVA, to present “Lockdown Lit @ Lunch,” a series of midday conversations between contemporary writers. The first event will be held on Tuesday, May 19, at 2pm EDT, featuring Clare Beams (The Illness Lesson) and Rachel Vorona Cote (Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today).

Events will be broadcast on Facebook Live (facebook.com/booksmith) and hosted by ZYZZYVA Managing Editor, Oscar Villalon.

“There are so many great new books out there, and so many interesting, necessary conversations to be had,” says Andrew Altschul, the series coordinator, whose novel The Gringa was published in March. “But because of the pandemic, many of these voices are being drowned out. We wanted to find a way to cut through the noise, and give readers a break from the constant stream of bad news.”

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Lockdown Literature was founded on April 5 by author Mary South (You Will Never Be Forgotten) and includes authors of prominent new titles including Ivy Pochoda (These Women), Adrienne Raphel (Thinking Inside the Box), Jennifer Steinhauer (The Firsts), Douglas Stuart (Shuggie Bain) and Bonnie Tsui (Why We Swim).

Their Instagram page (@lockdown_literature) offers video introductions to many of the group’s authors and their new books. The Booksmith serves as the group’s official bookseller, with a web page dedicated to members’ books.

Lockdown Lit @ Lunch events will include brief readings, but the focus is on conversations between authors, with pairings curated to spotlight the breadth of impressive, thought-provoking literature being published during the pandemic. “It’s been inspiring to see how people and businesses alike are adapting,” says Evan Karp, events manager for The Booksmith. “This partnership allows us to help out these authors and at the same time bolsters our virtual programming. We’re able to host authors who otherwise might not come through town, and expose our community to books that might not make it onto our radar.”

Future salons include Mary South (You Will Never Be Forgotten) and Erin Somers (Stay Up with Hugo Best) on May 26; Melanie Abrams (Meadowlark) and Andrew Altschul (The Gringa), on June 2; and Nina Renata Aron (Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls) and Julian Tepper (Between the Records), on June 9.

“Those of us with recent books have really missed the give-and-take of public readings. These salons give us a chance to have some of those rich and unpredictable conversations,” Altschul says. He adds, “Literature really is the antidote to social distance.”

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