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Jewish Journal

The book festival gets a new home

by Jonathan Kirsch

April 26, 2011 | 5:05 pm

The headliners at the 2011 edition of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books range from literary luminaries like Carolyn See, Dave Eggers, T.C. Boyle and Jennifer Egan, to fitness icon Jillian Michaels and master prestidigitator Ricky Jay, but the biggest news is the change of venue. After a 15-year run at the UCLA campus, the event has moved to the lively and welcoming campus of the University of Southern California in downtown Los Angeles.

The festival kicks off, as it does every year, with the presentation of the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. The winners in 12 categories will be announced at a ceremony on the evening before opening day, but one winner has already been announced — the Robert Kirsch Prize for lifetime achievement, named after my late father, which will be awarded to beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary.

For complete information about the schedule of events — including readings, performances, panels and exhibits featuring more than 400 authors and 300 exhibitors — and for information on how to order free tickets, visit latimes.com/festivalofbooks. Parking on the USC campus is $10. Free nonstop shuttle service between USC and Union Station is sponsored by Target.

The festival takes place Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday May 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Among the author appearances on the USC campus, there are several standouts:

Chris Hedges (“The World as It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress) is among the participants in the panel titled “Fear & Trembling in the New World,” which assures some pyrotechnics. Also featured on the panel are Barry Glassner (“The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things”), Shane Harris (“The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State”) and Russell Jacoby (“Bloodlust: On the Roots of Violence From Cain and Abel to the Present”). It will be my honor to serve as moderator. (Saturday, 2 p.m., Davidson Conference Center)

Jewish Journal columnist Gina Nahai will moderate a panel on “Fiction of the Middle East” featuring Reza Aslan (“Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes From the Modern Middle East”), Assaf Gavron (“Almost Dead”) and Laila Lalami (“Secret Son”). (Saturday, 2 p.m., Norris)

Ricky Jay (“Celebrations of Curious Characters”), who has worked magic in print, on stage and in movies, will be featured in conversation with Joe Morgenstern. (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom)

Reza Aslan will moderate a panel titled “People Power: The Rise of a New Middle East,” featuring Laurie Brand (“Citizens Abroad: Emigration and the State in the Middle East and Africa”), Tom Hayden (“The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama”) and Parag Khanna (“How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance”). (Saturday 10:30 a.m., Bovard)

Aimee Bender will read from the latest of her unique and enchanting works of literary fiction, “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.” (Saturday, 11:45 a.m., Harris)

Los Angeles Times editor Russ Stanton will moderate a panel titled “From the Front Page to the Book Shelf,” featuring Ralph Frammolino and Jason Felch (“Chasing Aphrodite”), Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (“The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe”) and Judy Pasternak (“Yellow Dirt: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed”). (Sunday, 1 p.m., SAL 101)

Carolyn See, literary lioness and author of enduring, delightful and important novels (ranging from “Golden Days” to “The Handyman”) and memoirs (“Dreaming” and “Making a Literary Life”), will be featured in conversation with Times staff writer Thomas Curwen. (10:30 a.m., Taper 201)

Feminist author and scholar Lois Banner will moderate a panel titled “Hollywood Icons” featuring Leo Braudy (“The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon”), M.G. Lord (“Astro Turf”) and Karen Sternheimer (“Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility”). (Sunday, 2:30 p.m., Harris)

Poet and USC professor David St. John will moderate a panel titled “The Poet’s Journey: Personal Reflection and Public Revelation” featuring Nick Flynn (“The Ticking Is the Bomb: A Memoir”), Dana Goodyear (“Honey and Junk”), Yehoshua November (”God’s Optimism”) and Matthew Zapruder (“Come on All You Ghosts”). (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Annenberg Auditorium)

Jonathan Kirsch, author and publishing attorney, is the book editor of The Jewish Journal. He blogs on books at jewishjournal.com/twelvetwelve and can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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