This Saturday, June 1, the 8th annual Women’s Literary Festival kicks off right here in Santa Barbara. This year as every year, the festival welcomes contemporary female writers from a wide range of backgrounds and celebrates the diversity of women’s words in print. Over the course of the day, selected authors will give inspiring talks, offer breakout sessions, sign copies of their books, and meet with festival participants. Here are three reasons to check out the action.
1. Get the Scoop: Among this year’s participating authors are journalists Amy Wilentz and Celeste Fremon. Both award-winning writers and teachers, they’ll be sharing reflections on the business of writing news. Founder of online media site WitnessLA, Fremon specializes in criminal justice reporting. She has written extensively about law enforcement and gangs and is currently working on a new book, An American Family, in which she follows a former inmate and his family after his release from prison. Wilentz is a lifelong East Coaster whose 2006 portrait of California, I Feel Earthquakes More Often Than They Happen, examines the state and its then–governor Schwarzenegger through a zoom lens. Her newest book, Farewell Fred Voodoo, is a mixture of memoir and reportage from another of her beloved subjects: Haiti.
2. Listen to Top-Notch Storytellers: Fans of the murder mystery will be thrilled to hear from Attica Locke, author of Black Water Rising and her more recent novel The Cutting Season, which is set on an antebellum Louisiana plantation. Meanwhile, emerging novelist Aimee Phan will discuss her collection of essays, We Should Never Meet, and her debut novel, The Reeducation of Cherry Trong, both of which explore the Vietnamese immigrant experience in California and the lingering echoes of the Vietnam War.
3. Join the Discourse: One of the best aspects of this festival is the rich discourse that emerges over the course of a single day. This year’s lineup includes a number of female writers who address vital cultural issues, from Elyn Saks, whose memoir The Center Cannot Hold discusses her journey through schizophrenia, to feminist writer M.G. Lord, whose latest book, The Accidental Feminist, frames actress Elizabeth Taylor as an unlikely feminist icon. Author and activist Demetria Martinez will speak about her novel, Mother Tongue, based in part on her personal experience with Salvadoran refugees and her 1988 trial for conspiracy against the U.S. government. After hearing cultural commentary on such a range of hot topics, the lunchtime conversation should be sparkling.
The 8th annual Women’s Literary Festival takes places at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort (633 E. Cabrillo Blvd.) on Saturday, June 1 from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. For tickets, call (805) 688-9727 visit womensliteraryfestival.com.