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This week in L.A.: Times Book Prizes, festival highlight active week

April 16, 2012 |  2:15 pm

L.A. Times Festival of Books
This is a big week for authors, books and book lovers in Southern California as the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are awarded in advance of the Festival of Books, now in its second year on the USC campus. This is the 32nd presentation of the awards, which will be presented Friday night at USC’s Bovard Auditorium.

Walker Percy was the first winner of the fiction prize -- for his novel “The Second Coming” -- when the first prizes were announced in November 1980. Wallace Stegner was given the Robert Kirsch Award, which recognizes an outstanding body of work by an author from the West or featuring the West. Kirsch was a leading figure in literary criticism in California and in the West as the paper’s book critic, a post he held for 25 years until his death in 1979. This award was named for him by William F. Thomas, then the paper’s editor. The prizes themselves were the brainchild of Kirsch and Jean Sharley Taylor, then the paper’s associate editor, who ran The Times' vast catalog of feature sections as well as Calendar.

This year’s prizes have five finalists in each of 10 categories. Stephen King, Michael Ondaatje and Manning Marable (the late biographer of Malcolm X) are among the finalists. Rudolfo Anaya, whose 1972 bestselling coming-of-age story “Bless Me, Ultima” has become a seminal work of Chicano literature, will be presented the Robert Kirsch Award. Check the website for a complete list of the finalists.

Tickets for the book prize ceremony are available for purchase at latimes.com/festivalofbooks.

On Saturday and Sunday, the USC campus will be filled with eager book lovers and with more than 500 authors and celebrities, more than 100 panels, eight stages and nearly 300 exhibitors.  Click here for the full lineup. There will be also be a wide array of great food trucks on campus and, if you are having trouble finding your way, a mobile app is available.

And if you can’t make it to the festival, several of the authors scheduled to participate have other events around town this week.

As always, we suggest you check the venue for any adjustment in starting time or late cancellations. 

7 p.m. Monday Terry McDermott discusses and signs “The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastmind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed” by McDermott and Josh Meyer. Vroman’s.

7 p.m. Tuesday Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” presents and signs “Unholy Night,” his unconventional telling of the story of the “Three Wise Men.” Book Soup.

7 p.m. Tuesday Novelist Denis Johnson reads at the Hammer Museum.

7 p.m. Tuesday Mark Haskell Smith, author of “Heart of Dankness: Underground Botanists, Outlaw Farmers, and the Race for the Cannabis Cup” in conversation with Tod Goldberg as part of the ALOUD series at the Mark Taper Auditorium in the Los Angeles Central Library.

7 p.m. Tuesday Tayari Jones, author of “Silver Sparrow,” presents the paperback edition of her novel at Eso Won Bookstore.


7 p.m. Wednesday Bill Clegg presents and signs “Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery” Book Soup.

7 p.m. Wednesday Regina O’Melveny discusses and signs “The Book of Madness and Cures.” Vroman’s

7 p.m. Thursday Adilifu Nama presents and signs “Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes.” Book Soup.

7 p.m. Thursday Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes with Jenna Elfman in a dramatic reading of “Seriously, Just Go to Sleep” followed by a conversation with the author/illustrator. Moderated by Attica Locke. Part of the ALOUD series at the Mark Taper Auditorium in Los Angeles Central Library.

7 p.m. Friday Eric Jerome Dickey presents his novel “An Accidental Affair” Eso Won Bookstore.

7:30 p.m. Friday  Los Angeles Times Book Prizes presented at USC’s Bovard Auditorium.

10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. USC Campus.

10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. USC Campus.

11 a.m. Sunday Malibu Public Library grand opening, 23519 Civic Center Way, Malibu.  

-- Jon Thurber