In turning 40 on Yom Kippur, a week after the 30th anniversary of her mother’s death, writer and musician Solvej Schou reflects on grieving endings and celebrating new beginnings—and freeing herself to own her life.
In her acclaimed debut novel, CATALINA, Liska Jacobs takes us into the tortured mind of Elsa Fisher as she retreats to Los Angeles, jobless after an intense affair in the heart of Manhattan’s art world. A journey of drinking, destruction and discovery follows as Elsa unravels in a seeming paradise: Catalina Island. An excerpt from the perfect beach (or island) read for hot summer days and nights, and a revealing Q&A between AFLW’s Jian Huang and the author on the evergreen question of New York vs. L.A. and, as a native Angeleno, how the character of Los Angeles as place influences her writing.
We begin National Poetry Month with a searing poem written for and read by Shonda Buchanan at our Black Resistance in the Time of Trump event. Her lyrical opening, which she sang, took our breath away and made the room sacred. Her words, full of pain and rage and the truth.
In THE LAST TO SEE ME, M. Dressler blurs the boundaries between the living and the dead, showing us that otherness is a matter of not seeing and not knowing how to communicate, and that evil resides not either in the world of ghosts or men, but in one’s own heart. An excerpt and fascinating conversation between AFLW fiction editor Shilpa Agarwal and the author, on the heels of her winning this year’s $10,000 Book Pipeline Award book-to-film project for the novel.
In TRIPLE CROSS KILLER, crime writer Rosemarie Aquilina, who recently made headlines in the courtroom for her historic judgment for survivor rights, takes us into the dark, shadowy life of a serial killer and those who hunt him out. We are honored to feature an excerpt from the book and a conversation between AFLW fiction editor Shilpa Agarwal and Judge Aquilina, in which she speaks about what inspired her to write her novel focused on children, voice and power, and her vision for creating real change in society.
In her new memoir, CUZ: The Life and Times of Michael A., Danielle Allen, a distinguished classicist and political scientist, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and Washington Post Opinion columnist, writes with sensitivity and candor about the tragic death of her younger, African-American cousin Michael after his release from a prison sentence that began when he was just 15 years old, and the pressing need for reform of mass incarceration in the United States.
Deanne Stillman’s latest, acclaimed book, “Blood Brothers: The Story of the Strange Friendship between Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill,” gives an unexpected view into white America’s troubled relationship with its native population. Learn more about this fascinating story, with lessons from the past that impact current issues, in an excerpt and Q&A with the author.
An achingly honest account of one woman’s quest to reconnect with her body post-divorce explores the ways in which relationships mentally and physically shape us.
In BEGIN WITH A FAILED BODY, winner of the 2016 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, poet and professor Natalie Graham considers the wounded self trapped between poverty and memory.
In “The Art of Misdiagnosis,” Gayle Brandeis probes the mysteries surrounding her mother’s suicide, artfully weaving letters, research and documentary transcripts throughout the narrative. An excerpt and Q&A between the author and AFLW creative nonfiction editor, Marnie Goodfriend, on letters never sent, truth seeking, and loving our parents, flaws and all.
They met online on Skype and then in person in Chile. Their connection continued in cyberspace. A tribute to a love outside of time.
“It’s a very L.A. story, surely, but you needs must own that it’s the sort of thing that could happen anywhere, to anyone.” New, fanciful fiction, a love story, by THE BLACK WATCH indie rock band founder and author John Andrew Fredrick.
Sgt. Hector Gallegos of the LAPD reads his cheap, plastic Bible backward. This is a secret, as is the holy book’s presence in his patrol car, a tool – like his gun – to combat evil. When tragedy visits his home, he understands it’s not just faith, but something more that wields the power to protect his family. New fiction set in the City of Angels.
“I said nothing while I watched life transform from several feet away. I wasn’t observing from above in a surgical theater, nor was I a terrified loved one on the other side of the solid door.” A deeply moving excerpt from Elizabeth L. Silver’s acclaimed, new memoir of medical uncertainty.
“I am still in awe of the wonders and magic of modern medicine, but I am now much more aware of its frailties.” Elizabeth L. Silver, author of THE TINCTURE OF TIME, in an emotive Q&A.
“Not yet men and women and no longer boys and girls, they may have believed in fairy tales still but wouldn’t dare confess. That summer, after the black-bristled gypsy moth caterpillars hatched, Avalon’s youth surrendered the woods reluctantly. What more was there to fear?” A beautiful yet foreboding prelude excerpt from Julia Fierro’s heralded coming-of-age novel.
Julia Fierro on how her new novel, THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER, is an “anti-revenge revenge story” and more.
“My father loved thin women and thick steaks.” A poignant and funny excerpt from Annabelle Gurwitch’s brilliant new memoir on family, with her larger-than-life dad playing the lead.
On the two-year anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray, after suffering police brutality, laments by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.
“The news wraps you in lists, trying to destroy the light of your name,
Waxing moon sliver of light—metaphor for black Baltimore boys?”
Inside the dreamscape of the Hollywood sign, a love story unfolds, but as in all fairy tales, a villainess appears, and the stars begin to fall.
“Use the literature of Los Angeles as a guide. Read about Acosta’s cockroach people, Babitz’s sex and rage, Banham’s ecologies, Beatty’s white boy shuffle, Boyle’s tortilla curtain, Braverman’s frantic transmissions, Bukowski’s post office, Butler’s speech sounds and Brinig’s flutter of an eyelid.”
In GENEVIEVES, Henry Hoke proves himself a master illusionist, slipping us through veils of reality to meet an echo of who we might be in our deepest selves. An excerpt from the just-released book of surreal, gender-bending fiction and a Q&A with the author.
In THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ, by Lilliam Rivera, a Puerto Rican-American family does everything it can to maintain a veneer of perfection for their teenage daughter, Margot. But when she’s caught stealing money, she winds up working in her father’s South Bronx grocery store, and that’s where her education truly begins. A riveting excerpt and Q&A with the author.
In CAKE TIME, Siel Ju’s protagonist has no illusions about family or perfection. She’s left that all behind long ago. A compelling excerpt and Q&A with AFLW Fiction Editor Shilpa Agarwal.
At Angels Flight • literary west, we love being in L.A., but in this excerpt from his memoir, GUN, NEEDLE, SPOON, Patrick O’Neil tells the story of a time when he had to get out.
“Then one day, out on the yard, a giant corn-fed thug, his skin covered in swastikas, sided up to me and handed me this book: ‘Yo, ya gotta read this, bro.’” A Q&A with AFLW’s creative non-fiction editor Seth Fischer and Patrick O’Neil, author of GUN, NEEDLE, SPOON, and also a teacher, filmmaker, former roadie, former junkie, former bank robber and current badass.
For the 20th anniversary of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” poems from a collection by Lisa Cheby, inspired by the cult-popular TV show, explore grief, power and love.
“Dare me to tell you how long I’ve dreamed of you
We’re a love story written in Sanskrit and Aramaic”
“On a map, California looks like she’s hugging the continent
and Nevada is leaning in for a deep kiss.
She is tentative, he is a sharp-tongued,
diamond-studded menace, kissing her
and at the same time, pushing her into the ocean.”
“we’re foolish to not recognize
what can happen when we open
our screen doors to a desperate world”
“His urge began in the mythic land of Florida,
where power surges from the steaming swamp.”
In L.A.’s dating scene, the rules don’t apply. An excerpt, playlists and Q&A with the authors of an alternative guide.
“we, in the eye of the storm,
are a love letter, a prayer
that is more assurance than ask.
‘We will be ok,’ we say, we sing, film it,
play it back over and over”
“Poetry … must be tactless, falling down stairs like a toddler,
slipping into ravines like a dancer on high alert,
forgetting the words but remembering the way. Poetry must be.”
What does Donald Trump’s inaugural dinner reveal? We’ve obtained the top-secret menu and offer it up as an additional excerpt from THE POLITICAL COOKBOOK: A Compendium of American Dishes. Spoiler Alert: Misogyny Soup will be served.
In her latest acclaimed novel, LITTLE NOTHING, Marisa Silver compels us to look, and look deeply, at how hatred distorts not only those we fear, but ourselves. An excerpt and conversation with HAUNTING BOMBAY author Shilpa Agarwal examining the meaning of “other” and more within and without this extraordinary work.
We have been honored to feature an array of tremendous titles from incredibly talented and diverse writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Here are some of our favorites published in the year we now leave behind.
Visiting Manzanar, a former Japanese internment camp in the California desert, challenged one writer to ask how to move forward after witnessing the consequences of U.S. policies through the lens of history. “To realize that, no matter who’s in charge, this is our country. We, the people, play a valuable part in transforming it.”
A poet’s reflection on fear, written on 11/9, after the dismaying results of the election.
Prose incantations written pre- and post-election by L.A. poet and author Rich Ferguson. All selections part of his collection in progress, “Everything Is Radiant Between the Hates.”
A holiday toast to fighting the good fight. Get a taste of THE POLITICAL COOKBOOK: A Compendium of American Dishes by humorist George R. Wolfe. First, we whet your appetite with satirical cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Then, main dishes and desserts. Vive la Revolution!
Read an excerpt from “Wedding Bush Road,” a new novel by David Francis on the complexities of the journey “home,” and a Q&A with the author exploring the freeing power of distance and how the change of regime now challenges writers to “be more aware of the ‘political'” in their work.
An excerpt from the fiery, acclaimed debut novel by Jade Chang, “The Wangs Vs. the World,” and a frank Q&A with the author post-11/9.
“I grieve for Los Angeles
Left behind me.
I grieve for Obama’s America
Soon to be gone.”
“Can you imagine a Saddam-like statue outside the White House — a massive, gold-plated tuft of hair blotting out the view from the Jefferson Memorial — bearing the words ‘Donald J. Trump, Leader of the Free World?’ Don’t laugh. It could happen.”
In his poems, Sergio A. Ortiz explores a range of roiling emotions post-11/9: feelings of longing and regret, resentment stirring at the emerging depravity, and warnings about remaining silent. But there is also hope in resistance: “Listen to how frozen hurricanes emerge from the dew!”
A instant bestseller, LOS ANGELES IN THE 1970s, an anthology edited by David Kukoff, gives an insider’s look into the good, the bad and the ugly of L.A. in its heyday, with contributions from The Doors’ John Densmore, Matthew Specktor, Luis Rodriguez, Susan Hayden, Deanne Stillman, Dana Johnson, Jeremy Rosenberg and more.
A glimpse into the whimsical, weird and compelling debut collection of crafted and surreal stories by Meredith Alling.
Henry Hoke’s dazzling and daring new fiction challenges the concepts of memoir and dreamscape, reality and surrealism, literature and sexuality.
A glimpse into Dana Johnson’s acclaimed new collection of stories set in the heart of Los Angeles that explore love, class and race in intimate and daring ways.