Meet the Authors: A Benefit Reading in Sacramento

Join us in Sacramento on Wednesday, February 15, for an extraordinary evening of readings by Community of Writers’ alumni, emceed by journalist and author Julia Flynn Siler. The authors will be reading from their most recents works, followed by a reception and book signing.

Jade Chang • Michael Lavigne • Jordan Fisher Smith
Frances Stroh • Naomi Williams

More information about the authors below.

7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017

Sierra 2 Center for the Arts & Community
2791 24th St., Sacramento
Doors open at 6:30

$20 Advance/$25 at the Door



Jade Chang is the author of The Wangs vs. The World, an outrageously funny tale about a wealthy Chinese-American family that “loses it all, then takes a healing, uproarious road trip across the United States” (Entertainment Weekly). Their spectacular fall from riches to rags brings the Wangs together in a way money never could. Sharply observed and full of charm, this debut novel is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America.


  • New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • An NPR 2016 Great Reads
  • One of Amazon’s Best Books of 2016
  • A Fall 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Pick
  • An October Indie Next Pick
  • A The Millions Most Anticipated Book
  • A BuzzFeed Best Books Of 2016
  • An Best Books of 2016
  • Recommended on The Today Show for Great Last-Minute Gift Ideas
  • Long-listed for the PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction

Michael Lavigne (writing as Pepper Harding) is the author of The Heart of Henry Quantum.

Henry Quantum has several thoughts going through his head at any given time, so it’s no surprise when he forgets something very important—specifically, a Christmas gift for his wife, which he realizes on the morning of December 23. Henry sets off that day in search of the perfect present for her: a bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume.

“[Harding/Lavigne] has skillfully created a set of interesting, well-developed characters whose lives readers can relate to and care about… with quick, witty dialogue and an expertly crafted stream-of-consciousness style, […] a highly entertaining read that will remind readers of the power of one day to change a life.” —Booklist, Starred Review

“Michael Lavigne wites like an angel. And like a devil. Indeed he writes so well that it isn’t always possible to tell which is which. His ability to give wild imaginings a concrete immediacy, a human warmth and plausibility, is the rarest of writerly gifts.” — Jonathan Rosen

  • Winner of the coveted Sami Rohr Choice Award.
    Winner of the American Library Association Sophie Brodie Honor Book

Jordan Fisher Smith is the author of the recent nonfiction book Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight Over Controlling Nature.

In the summer of 1972 Harry Eugene Walker hitchhiked away from his Alabama home to see America. Nineteen days later he was killed and partially eaten by an endangered grizzly bear at Yellowstone National Park. When nature has been disrupted by human beings, how do we go about repairing it? How much should we try to control or manipulate it in order to heal it? And what happens when we get it wrong?

Engineering Eden“An intensely reported, rousingly readable and ambitiously envisioned book.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Smith’s book will draw you in with his passion, thoughtfulness and first-rate story telling.” —Seattle Times

“Smith pulls it off thanks to his command of the material, his firm grip on the narrative, and his insatiable inquisitiveness. When it comes to natural history, he knows his stuff” –Sierra Magazine

“Stunning”—Entertainment Weekly

  • Engineering Eden was long-listed for this year’s PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

In Frances Stroh‘s memoir, Beer Money: A Memior of Privilege and Loss, she reveals the complexities of her childhood and coming of age as a member of Detroit’s Stroh’s Beer family, once in possession of the largest private beer fortune in America. The book is at once a recollection of a city, an industry, and a dynasty in decline, and the story of a young artist who struggles to find her way out of the ruins.
“With an artist’s eye for visual detail… her frank and engrossing memoir captures the long decline of the city of Detroit and her sadly dysfunctional family.” —

“Stroh writes candidly and insightfully about…the unsettling truth that unconditional love, much like money, sometimes comes in limited supply. The author’s family might have successfully burned through a massive fortune, but they squandered a lot more than that. A sorrowful, eye-opening examination of familial dysfunction.”
Kirkus Reviews

  • Received the Michigan Notable Book Award
  • Selected as a Books-A-Million President’s Pick


Naomi Williams is the author of Landfalls, a fictionalized reimagining of the ill-fated Lapérouse expedition (1785-1788), a voyage of exploration that attempted to circumnavigate the globe for science and the glory of France.

“A dazzling debut novel about a lost expedition… A bona fide masterpiece.”  —Seattle Times

“Ms. Williams brilliantly moves across continents and gives each landfall a distinct and evocative voice… Landfalls is intelligent and utterly human. Ms. Williams has written a seductive page-turner that … draws the reader in and doesn’t let go. —Wall Street Journal

“A beautiful tale of adventure, anchored in tragedy.” —Vanity Fair

“The drama in Landfalls is unrelenting … sort of a maritime version of ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.’” —New York Times

  • Long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.
  • Long-listed the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award.

Emcee  Julia Flynn Siler is an author and journalist. She wrote The House of Mondavi and Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure and is a former staff writer and foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. A graduate of Brown and of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other publications. She is an alumni of the Community of Writers, and a member of the Board of Directors.

More Information and to Purchase Tickets

Join Us in Squaw Valley for These Literary Events

2016 grid for events

The Community of Writers 46th Annual Writers Workshops in fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, will take place in Squaw Valley the week of July 25- August 1st. You are invited to join us for public craft talks, panels, and readings by the teaching staff, agents and editors, and published alumni. You can find a printable schedule and make a reservation for the two evening Special Events (see below) here.


1:00    Craft Talk: “The Germs (of stories, that is): From Where Do Stories Emerge?” by Tom Barbash
2:00    Panel: “Telling Truth through Fiction: Transmuting ‘Real’ Events into Imaginative Fiction” with Rhoda Huffey, Joanne Meschery, Victoria Patterson and Amy Tan – moderated by Jane Ciabattari
3:00    Panel: “The Historical Novel”  with Sands Hall, Edie Meidav, Gregory Spatz, and Mary Volmer – moderated by Jason Roberts
4:00    “The Writing Community, Prizes and the Life of the Writer: Jane Ciabattari in conversation with Oscar Villalon
5:30    Short Takes Staff Readings: Mark Childress, Natalie Serber, Andrew Tonkovich, and Mary Volmer
7:30    Panel: “The Big Nonfiction Book:Conquering Research to Find the Story” with Jason Roberts, Héctor Tobar, Jordan Fisher Smith and Dava Sobel – moderated by Julia Flynn Siler


1:00    Craft Talk: “The Construction of a Nonfiction Narrative” by Dava Sobel
2:00    Panel: “Humor, Voice, Character and Subtext” with Mark Childress, Dana Johnson, Anne Lamott, Matt Sumell – moderated by Andrew Tonkovich
3:00    Panel: “The Heart of Memoir” with Anne Lamott, Natalie Serber, Jane Vandenburgh – moderated by Sands Hall
5:30    Short Takes Staff Readings with Edie Meidav, Jason Roberts, Julia Flynn Siler, Gregory Spatz
7:30*    Staff read & talk about their work: Dana Johnson, Anne Lamott, Matt Sumell, Héctor Tobar.

* This event has an admittance fee, and reservations are appreciated. Reserve your seat for this event.


1:00    Panel: “Book Editors” with Reagan Arthur, Erika Goldman, Joy Johannessen, Calvert Morgan, Jack Shoemaker – moderated by Michael Carlisle
2:00    Panel: “Literary Agents” with Noah Ballard, Joy Harris, and BJ Robbins – moderated by Joy Johannessen
3:00    “Journals We Edit, Journals We Read,” with Oscar Villalon and Andrew Tonkovich
5:30    Published Alumni Reading: Stephanie Kegan, Nayomi Munaweera, Marian Palaia, Juan Alvarado Valdivia, Heather Young – Introduced by Matt Sumell
7:30    A Writers’ Tribute to Alan Cheuse: Various readings, music and tributes by staff. All are welcome!


No events scheduled


1:00    “You Must Read This: The Narrative Technique Which Stopped You In Your Tracks,” various staff will read excerpts and discuss
2:00    Panel: “Adaptation” with Craig Bolotin, Héctor Tobar, Mark Childress, Nancy Kelly, Amy Tan – moderated by: Louis B. Jones
3:00    Panel: “Silence, Cunning, Exile: The Risks and Rewards of Untraditional Narratives” with Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Louis B. Jones, Michelle Latiolais, and Al Young – moderated by Andrew Tonkovich
5:30    Short Takes Staff Readings with Lisa Alvarez, Rhoda Huffey, Victoria Patterson and Al Young
7:30*    Staff read and talk about their work: Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Michelle Latiolais, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Elizabeth Tallent.

* This event has an admittance fee, and reservations are appreciated. Reserve your seat for this event.


1:00    Craft Talk: “The Knowing Character and Other Craft Notes” by Ron Carlson
2:00    Panel: “The Craft of Writing the Short Story” with Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Ron Carlson, Kirstin Valdez Quade and Elizabeth Tallent – moderated by Thomas Barbash
3:00    Panel: “Writing Beyond The Conference” with Victoria Patterson, Rhoda Huffey, Julia Flynn Siler – moderated by Lisa Alvarez


9:30    The Closing Talk by Amy Tan

All Events are in the Olympic House in Squaw Valley. Most afternoon events will take place in Bar One. 5:30 readings and evening events will take place in Plaza Bar. For more information, see the Public Events listing on our website.