March is National Women’s History month, and we’re going to celebrate by embracing the story part of history. By both happenstance and in recognition of the month, many of Houston’s independent bookstores and arts and letters organizations have invited some extraordinary women authors — a few local favorites, others touring nationally and internationally — to read and speak this month.
There is such a plethora and diversity of renowned and debut female writers in town in the coming weeks whose voices will be telling stories real and imagined, our must-see calendar is almost filled. So if you too are having trouble keeping up with which of your favorite writers are where this month, here are just some of the highlights.
Rachel Maddow on March 10
The Progressive Forum presents the reigning queen of MSNBC, and every progressive’s imaginary BFF. Maddow will discuss her first book, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power with a sold-out crowd.
Ruth Ozeki on March 14
The novelist, award-winning documentary film maker and Buddhist priest visits Houston to read from her latest novel A Tale for the Time Being. In this story about storytelling, an American writer, Ruth, finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox on the beach. Within the box is the diary of a sixteen-year-old Japanese girl named Nao. How the box came to wash ashore near Ruth’s remote Pacific home is only one strand of the many intriguing tales interwoven into the novel. This book is my current late-into-the-night, can’t-put-it-down read.
Jodi Picoult on March 18
In partnership with Murder by the Book and the Holocaust Museum, Alief Hastings High School will host best-selling author Jodi Picoult reading from The Storyteller. Picoult is the author of 18 books, including My Sister’s Keeper, which was adapted into the film of the same name starring Cameron Diaz.
Her latest work, depicting the friendship of the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and an elderly man, poses questions about history and the nature of forgiveness. Proceeds from the event will go to the Hastings High School Upstanders Club and the Houston Holocaust Museum.
ZZ Packer on March 25
Begin a day of contemporary literature appreciation with an 11 a.m. reading and Q&A session with short story writer and sometimes Houstonian ZZ Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. The Packer event is part of the annual Helen Orman Reading Series.
The series is scheduled during National Women's History Month and was established to honor the life of HCC Southwest College Literature chair and prominent local artist Helen Orman.
Amber Dermont and Jesmyn Ward on March 25
That evening brings a double dose of literary virtuosity from the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. Amber Dermont received her PhD from UH, and will be reading from her new story collection Damage Control. Jesmyn Ward is author the National Book Award winning novel, Salvage the Bones, which is set during the days before and after Hurricane Katrina. The majority of Inprint’s 2012-2013 season events have sold out, so literary lovers might want to purchase tickets early.
Other Houston writers touting new books this month are Elizabeth Black, whose mystery set in Galveston, The Drowning House, was recently an American Booksellers Association Indie Next pick, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, whose latest novel is Oleander Girl.