A crowd enjoying a Litquake event. Photo: Litquake

Litquake, one of the largest literary events west of the Mississippi, turns 20 this year. First launched in Golden Gate Park in 1999, the 10-day long festival is showcasing 860 authors in 147 events through Oct. 19.

While most of the readings, panels and performances take place in San Francisco, there are lots of great events this week in Berkeley and Oakland. Most are free, but Litquake is requesting a $5 to $10 donation. Here are Berkeleyside’s picks:


Let Her Tell It! Black Women Heal Through Writing: The image of strong Black women permeates movies and television, from the women of Wakanda, the country in Black Panther, to Florence on The Jeffersons to Cookie on Empire. But this group of women feels “it’s time for an honest discussion about the challenges impacting Black women’s mental health, such as high rates of domestic violence, stress, racism, sexism, and homophobia.” The writers Kira Lynne Allen, Jeneé Darden, Natalie Devora, Adrienne Danyelle Oliver and Kelechi Ubozoh will read from their work. Free, $5 suggested donation. Oakland Public Library, 124 14th St. 6 to 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 15

High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica and Visionary Experience in the Seventies: Erik Davis has just published High Weirdness, which examines how three writers, Philip K. Dick, Terence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson “changed the way millions of readers thought, dreamed and experienced reality,” through their 1970s counterculture writings. Davis and R.U. Sirius will discuss the three writers as well as their own “life-changing mystical experiences.” Free, $5 suggested donation. E. M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore 410 13th St., Oakland, 6:30-7:45 p.m.

‘We’ve Been Too Patient’ is a book that advocates for a transformation of the current mental health system. “Overmedication, police brutality, electroconvulsive therapy, involuntary hospitalization, traumas that lead to intense altered states and suicidal thoughts: these are the struggles of those labeled ‘mentally ill.'” Through essays and personal reflection, We’ve Been Too Patient illuminates stories of psychiatric abuse by highlighting the experiences of those often missing from the conversation: people of color and LGBTQ+ communities. With contributors LD Green, Kelechi Ubozoh, Jeneé Darden, Ramon(a) Rio, Sascha Altman DuBrul, and Anita Roman. Moderated by Casey Gardner. Free, $5 suggested donation. Pro Arts Gallery & Commons 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612 , 7-9 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 16 

No Human is Illegal: On the Front Lines of the Immigration War Ever since Trump announced his “Muslim Ban” in January 2017,  the attorney J.J. Mulligan Sepúlveda has been fighting back. His new book No Human Is Illegal: An Attorney on the Front Lines of the Immigration War examines this battle by highlighting the “merciless courts of New York City and San Francisco, the frightening detention centers on the U.S./Mexico border and the overburdened offices of legal defense organizations.” Sepúlveda is in conversation with Steven Mayers. Free, $5 suggested donation. E. M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore 410 13th St., Oakland. 6:30-8 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 17 

Literary Citizenship and the East Bay How does the current political climate impact writing? Should politics creep into fiction? If so, then when and how? Left Margin LIT, a literary community and school in Berkeley, will present an evening with Melanie Abrams, Jacques Rancourt, Keenan Norris, Sunisa Manning and Mark Schapiro, who will read and discuss how the current political climate influences their writing, from first to final draft. Free. Left Margin LIT, 1543 Shattuck Ave., Suite B. 7-8:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 18

Lit by the Lake, a Literary Mélange: Wine and treats are a great way to celebrate six local, best-selling and award-winning East Bay authors. Hear Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Alison Hart, Vanessa Hua, S.A. Lelchuk, Jenny Odell and Margaret Wilkerson Sexton read from their work. Free, $5-10 donation suggested. Oakland Public Library, 124 14th St. 6:30-8 p.m.

Berkeleyside is Berkeley, California’s independently-owned local news site. Learn more about the Berkeleyside team. Questions? Email editors@berkeleyside.org.