Author Events, Fantasy, Fiction, Local San Diego, Magical Realism

Warwick’s Event With Erin Morgenstern

In November, I attended a Warwick’s event at the San Diego Public Library with Erin Morgenstern. She was on tour to promote her new book, The Starless Sea. She is the author of the popular book, The Night Circus. My friend, fellow writer, bookworm, and neighbor, Kristin Luna, attended the event with me.

This was my first trip to the downtown library so I thought I’d lead this post by sharing a few must-know tips if you’re trying to attend any sort of event at this library after hours:

First, because the library is downtown, they lock it up at night. And when I say they lock it up, I mean they really lock it up. Good luck trying to find someone to help you enter it at night even if there is an event going on and you’re knocking on all the doors.

We eventually learned there’s actually an underground parking area beneath the library. And if you are attending an event at the library, this is where you MUST park if you don’t want to walk laps around the building knocking and trying every door.

Once we figured out how to get inside, the event itself was really lovely. It was held in a gorgeous conference hall they have off the center courtyard, across from the library’s own gift shop. Because we were running late, we arrived right as the talk was getting started so I didn’t get to hear who the person was that was interviewing Erin Morgenstern about her book. The whole atmosphere of the place and the discussion reminded me of the sort of literary events I used to attend on and off campus when I was going to UCSD. Very different from the last couple events I went to with YA authors. This was definitely a different crowd and the conversation was a lot more literary and craft-focused.

Erin Morgenstern reading from her new book, The Starless Sea

Morgenstern talked mostly about her new book, The Starless Sea, with occasional mentions of her famous first book, The Night Circus. I haven’t actually read The Night Circus yet, but I own a copy that’s been taunting me forever from the TBR stack. Maybe 2020 will be the year I finally read it…who knows!

After the discussion, there was a signing with the author which was highly efficient, but kind of impersonal. Not the author’s fault at all, but there were a lot of people onstage shepherding us through the process so there wasn’t any opportunity to have a chat with the author. I was able to get both The Starless Sea and The Night Circus signed, which means my little collection of signed books is growing!

We didn’t get to see the rest of the library, but we did briefly visit the library gift shop which was super fun and full of TONS of cute gifts I wanted to buy for myself and others. If ever at the library, I definitely recommend checking out the cute little shop near the courtyard.

Dystopian, Fiction, Magical Realism, Reviews

Exit West

Exit West By Mohsin Hamid

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

At the last writing conference I went to, at some point during the day magical realism came up. It was during the agent panel event and the agents talked about how much they like this genre, but they weren’t able to give any recent examples. They pointed of course to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and some other Latin American authors, but not to anyone writing in the last two decades.

And as much as I read, I haven’t seen magical realism in a long time. Probably not since I last read a book by Marquez or one of the other masters of the genre. Until Exit West.

I admit, this threw me for a loop because I had no idea this book was magical realism. It’s so subtle I had to actually stop and back up a few pages to be sure of what I’d just read. I got this book from my Book of the Month membership, which basically just gives a picture of the book and the jacket text to help you make your selection. I haven’t really seen many reviews for this book other than I knew it was generally well-liked.

And it was a great read! I have to say, with our current global culture, everyone needs to be reading this book. It talks a lot about identity and race and home and sense of place in our modern, global society. I probably could have read this book in one setting, I just read before bed so I fell asleep a few times reading it. But if I’d picked this up in the afternoon, I could have powered through it no problem. It was a very engaging read and the writing is just beautiful.

Also, can we talk about how beautiful the cover is?! Just. Wow!