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The dark – the weird – the strange. Be thrilled this month at Stories on Stage Sacramento, where we’re excited to welcome Sarah Stone, author of Hungry Ghost Theater. With Tim Foley. Readings by Katie Rubin and Matt Rives. The lights dim and the event begins at 7:30 pm in the auditorium at CLARA, Friday March 22.

Sarah Stone Hungry Ghost Theatre collage 2

Sarah Stone

author of Hungry Ghost Theater

and The True Sources of the Nile

with Tim Foley

readings by Katie Rubin and Matt Rives

Friday, March 22, 2019 at the auditorium at CLARA

1425 24th Street, Sacramento

Doors open at 7PM, readings begin at 7:30

A $10 donation is suggested.

about our writers

Sarah Stone

Sarah Stone’s novel, Hungry Ghost Theater (WTAW Press) appeared on the Millions Most Anticipated list for October 2018 and LitHub’s  “21 Books You Should Read This October.” The San Francisco Chronicle said, “Prepare to be seduced straightaway by the sensuous beauty and penetrating wisdom of Sarah Stone’s second novel….” Her previous novel, The True Sources of the Nile, was a BookSense 76 selection, has been translated into German and Dutch, and was included in Geoff Wisner’s A Basket of Leaves: 99 Books That Capture the Spirit of Africa. She’s the coauthor, with her spouse Ron Nyren, of Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers. Her stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in Scoundrel Time, The Millions, Ploughshares, StoryQuarterly, The Believer, and The Writer’s Chronicle, among other places. She’s written for and taught on Korean television, reported on human rights in Burundi, and looked after orphan chimpanzees at the Jane Goodall Institute. She received an MFA in Fiction from the University of Michigan and teaches creative writing for Stanford Continuing Studies and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Tim Foley

Tim Foley’s dark fiction and critical essays have appeared in such periodicals as Wormwood, Supernatural Tales, West Marin Review, All Hallows, Dark Hollow, and anthologies published by Flame Tree Press. His play, “Special Request,” was recently staged by Theater One in Sacramento. He earned an MFA in fiction from the University of San Francisco, and founded, and served as the editor of, The Farallon Review from 2008 to 2015. The story being read at this month’s event, “Nineteen-Sixty-Five Ford Falcon,” was published in the anthology Murder Mayhem Short Stories (2016) from Flame Tree Press. He is currently an attorney with the Office of the State Public Defender and teaches a seminar in constitutional law at U.C. Davis

about our readers

Katie Rubin

Reading an excerpt from Hungry Ghost Theater is Katie Rubin, who is thrilled to be making her Stories on Stage Sacramento debut. She earned an MFA in acting from the University of California, Davis and a BA in theatre from Amherst College. Katie is a regional theatre, voiceover, and commercial actress. Additionally, she tours the country as a solo performer (with five solo works under her belt), a stand-up comic, and writing and acting coach. Katie currently teaches writing classes online as well as acting and improvisation classes for Stanford University, American Conservatory Theater, and Capital Stage Company. Recent acting credits include The Heir Apparent (Aurora Theatre Company), Transitions (Theatre Rhinoceros), The Taming of the Shrew (Marin Shakespeare Company), and The North Plan, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, and Hunter Gatherers (Capital Stage Company). Look for her recent Xfinity Bacon Box commercial and listen for her voice as several characters in the fabulous and wildly over the top video game Sunset Overdrive.

Matt Rives

Matt Rives  will be reading “Nineteen-Sixty-Five Ford Falcon” by Tim Foley. Matt is an actor, musician, and stand-up comedian. In addition to several Stories on Stage Sacramento readings, Matthew has played lead roles in Noises Off and A Comedy of Errors and has performed by invitation at Laughs Unlimited, The Sacramento Comedy Spot, and Luna’s Café. His notable roles include “Franz Liebkind” in The Producers and “Buck Barrow” in Bonnie and Clyde with Runaway Stage Productions. Matthew also played the role of “The Captain” in the world premier of Frankenstein with Resurrection Theatre. Most recently, he played the role of Tom/Narrator in Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Mr. Aarons in Bridge to Terabitihia, and Henry Higgins in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.

About Stories on Stage Sacramento

For ten years, Stories on Stage Sacramento has brought you the best in literature, read by actors, and this year we’re celebrating this big milestone by returning to our full, ten-event season.

We’re proud of our record, as an all-volunteer, donation-based organization, of bringing the best in literary fiction, read by actors, to a growing Sacramento audience. Our six 2017 events featured work by Steve Almond, Deborah Willis, Josh Barkan, Vanessa Hua, Joshua Mohr, the Los Rios Writers, and Josh Weil, as well as several of Sacramento’s notable emerging writers.

Our 2018 season featured the writers Anne Raeff, Mira T. Lee, Elizabeth Tallent, Bob Sylva, Kirstin Chen, Tommy Orange, Vanessa Hua, Melissa Yancy and Dana Johnson. The dates for our 2018 season are: February 23, April 27, June 29, August 24, and October 26. In addition, our annual showcase featuring the Los Rios Writers will take place on Friday, September 28.

in 2019, we’ll welcome Tom Barbash, Karen E Bender (a National Book Award finalist) Sharma Shields, Janet Fitch, and exciting new writers Sarah Stone, Devi Lasker,  Fred D’Aguiar, and Christine O’Brien. And we’ll welcome back the Los Rios Writers. More will be announced: watch this space!

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We’re thrilled to welcome Karen E Bender, National Book Award finalist, back to Stories on Stage Sacramento, and to feature a reading from her just-published short story collection, The New Order. Also appearing with Karen: Sacramento favorite (and Stories on Stage founder) Valerie Fioravanti. Friday, February 22.

Karen Bender The New Order 2

Karen E Bender

author of Refund and The New Order

with Valerie Fioravanti

author of Garbage Night at the Opera

readings by Kelley Ogden and Tara Henry

Friday, February 22, 2019 at the auditorium at CLARA

1425 24th Street, Sacramento

Doors open at 7PM, readings begin at 7:30 

A $10 donation is suggested. 

About our Writers

Karen E Bender

Karen E Bender returns to Stories on Stage Sacramento with The New Order, her latest collection of short stories. Recently longlisted for The Story Prize, The New Order has been singled out in over a half-dozen “best of 2018” lists and won praise from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and National Book Review, among others. Booklist,  in a starred review, praises the collection for its “…literary virtuosity, psychological authenticity, and breath-catching insight.  Bender dramatizes gripping personal dilemmas compounded by a new order of social tyranny.” Bender’s previous collection, Refund, was a finalist for the National Book Award and a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Previous titles include the novel Like Normal People, which was a Los Angeles Times bestseller, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and A Town of Empty Rooms. Her short fiction has appeared The New Yorker, Granta, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, Story, The Yale Review, Electric Literature, Narrative, The Harvard Review, Guernica, and The Iowa Review. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best and have won two Pushcart prizes. Her tales “Eternal Love” and “The Fourth Prussian Dynasty” have been read in the Selected Shorts program on NPR. Karen is the Visiting Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA and lives with her husband, the writer Robert Anthony Siegel, in Wilmington, North Carolina

Valerie Fioravanti

Valerie FioravantiValerie Fioravanti, the founder of Stories on Stage Sacramento,  is the author of the linked collection of Brooklyn stories Garbage Night at the Opera from BkMk Press, which won the Chandra Prize for Short Fiction. Her fiction has appeared in many literary journals, including North American Review, Cimarron Review, and Hunger Mountain. She has received eight Pushcart Prize nominations for her work and a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy.

About our Readers

Kelley Ogden

Kelley Ogden 2A frequent reader at Stories on Stage Sacramento, Kelley Ogden is an actress, writer, director and producer, who was most recently seen onstage in the Capital Stage production of Sweat. In addition to working with Sacramento Shakespeare Festival, Main Street Theatre Works and Theater Galatea, Ogden co-founded KOLT Run Creations, a local fringe theater company. She earned a BFA in performance from The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago. She will read “The Cell Phones” from Karen E Bender’s The New Order

Tara Henry

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Highlights of Tara Henry‘s  past roles include: Titus in Titus Andronicus (RTAA), Emma/Ensemble in The Behavior of Broadus (Capital Stage), Fanny Dashwood/Charlotte Palmer in Sense & Sensibility (Sacramento Theater Company), Cassandra in Vanya, Sonia, Masha & Spike (Main Street Theatre Works), Charlotte/Mrs.Gardner in Pride & Prejudice (Sacramento Theatre Company), Both Dromios in Comedy of Errors (Sac Shakespeare Festival), Goneril in King Lear (TAAC). Tara is appearing next in Angels in America as Angel/Nurse Emily in July at the Roseville Theatre Arts Academy. She will read “Falla’s Boys” from Valerie Fioravanti’s upcoming short story collection Bridge and Tunnel.

About Stories on Stage Sacramento 

For ten years, Stories on Stage Sacramento has brought you  the best in literature, read by actors, and this year we’re celebrating this big milestone by returning to our full, ten-event season.  

We’re proud of our record, as an all-volunteer, donation-based organization,  of bringing the best in literary fiction, read by actors,  to a growing Sacramento audience. Our six 2017 events featured work by Steve Almond, Deborah Willis, Josh Barkan, Vanessa Hua, Joshua Mohr, the Los Rios Writers, and Josh Weil, as well as several of Sacramento’s notable emerging writers.  

Our 2018 season featured the writers  Anne Raeff, Mira T. Lee, Elizabeth Tallent, Bob Sylva, Kirstin Chen, Tommy Orange, Vanessa Hua, Melissa Yancy and Dana Johnson. The dates for our 2018 season are: February 23, April 27, June 29, August 24, and October 26.  In addition, our annual showcase featuring the Los Rios Writers will take place on Friday, September 28.

in 2019, we’ll welcome Tom Barbash, Karen E Bender (a National Book Award finalist) Sharma ShieldsJanet Fitch, and exciting new writers Sarah Stone, Devi Lasker, and Fred D’Aguiar.  And we’ll welcome back the Los Rios Writers. More will be announced: watch this space!

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Celebrate the opening of Stories on Stage Sacramento’s 10th season on Friday, January 25, 2019 at the Auditorium at CLARA. Featured writer: Tom Barbash, author of the heralded new novel “The Dakota Winters,” about fathers, sons, John Lennon, and life in New York’s legendary Dakota Apartments.

tom barbash the dakota winters

Tom Barbash

author of Stay Up With Me and The Dakota Winters

with Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Readings by Ian Hopps and Jessica Laskey

Friday, January 25 at the auditorium at CLARA

1425 24th Street, Sacramento

Doors open at 7PM, readings begin at 7:30 

A $10 donation is suggested. 

For ten years, Stories on Stage Sacramento has brought you  the best in literature, read by actors, and this year we’re celebrating this big milestone by returning to our full, ten-event season.  We’re beginning the series with excerpts from two novels, each threaded with the theme of the damage – and the gifts – parents bring to their grown children 

 

About our Writers

Tom Barbash

Tom Barbash was previously featured at Stories on Stage Sacramento with a reading from his bestselling short story collection, Stay Up With Me, and he’s back with his new novel The Dakota Winters, an evocative and wildly absorbing tale about the Winters, a family living in New York City’s famed Dakota apartment building. It’s a family drama, a page-turning social novel, and a tale of a critical moment in the history of New York City in the year leading up to John Lennon’s assassination. It isn’t giving anything away to say that John Lennon himself is one of the main characters in the novel, along with such Seventies luminaries as Johnny Carson and the Kennedys, Teddy and Joan.  Tom Barbash’s first novel, The Last Good Chance, won the California Book Award, and Stay Up With Me was nominated for the Folio Prize. His nonfiction book, On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, and 9/11: A Story of Loss and Renewal, was a New York Times bestseller. His stories and articles have been published in Tin House, McSweeney’s, VQR, and other publications, and have been performed on National Public Radio for their Selected Shorts Series. He teaches in the MFA program at California College of the Arts. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and currently lives in Marin County.

shelley blanton-stroudShelley Blanton-Stroud

Shelley Blanton-Stroud is a Sacramento writer, teacher, editor, and writing coach whose stories have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Brevity, This Side of the Divide: Stories of The American West, and Aethlon, A Journal of Sports Literature, among others. She teaches English and writing at California State University, Sacramento, and is currently revising two novels.

About our Readers

ian hoppsThis is Ian Hopps’ first appearance at Stories on Stage Sacramento but he’s a familiar face to Sacramento and Davis audiences: since his 2016 move to Sacramento from the Bay Area he’s appeared in leading roles with Capital Stage (Luna Gale, Stupid F***ing Bird,) the Sacramento Theatre Company (Macbeth, The Tempest) and Big Idea Theatre (The Rover, An Ideal Husband, The 39 Steps.) He’s the former associate producer and marketing director of the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble and has appeared in numerous productions there. He studied Theatre Arts at San Francisco State University, and in addition to acting, he writes for indie comics and podcasts, and produces his own music.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJessica Laskey is very happy to be back at Stories on Stage! As an Equity actress, she has performed for Sacramento Theatre Co., Capital Stage,  and California Stage and she’s the co-founding Artistic Director of Theater Galatea. Laskey is a freelance writer for Inside PublicationsSacramento MagazineSactown MagazineComstock’sand The Sacramento Bee and is the founding co-publisher of Indomita Press. She is also on the board of sister series Stories on Stage Davis.

 

About Stories on Stage Sacramento 

Now in its tenth season, Stories on Stage Sacramento is proud of its record, as an all-volunteer, donation-based organization,  of bringing the best in literary fiction, read by actors,  to a growing Sacramento audience. Our six 2017 events featured work by Steve Almond, Deborah Willis, Josh Barkan, Vanessa Hua, Joshua Mohr, the Los Rios Writers, and Josh Weil, as well as several of Sacramento’s notable emerging writers.  

Our 2018 season featured the writers  Anne Raeff, Mira T. Lee, Elizabeth Tallent, Bob Sylva, Kirstin Chen, Tommy Orange, Vanessa Hua, Melissa Yancy and Dana Johnson. The dates for our 2018 season are: February 23, April 27, June 29, August 24, and October 26.  In addition, our annual showcase featuring the Los Rios Writers will take place on Friday, September 28.

in 2019, we’ll welcome Tom Barbash, Karen E Bender (a National Book Award finalist) Sharma Shields, and exciting new writers Sarah Stone, Devi Lasker, and Fred D’Aguiar.  And we’ll welcome back the Los Rios Writers. More will be announced: watch this space!

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For our final event of the 2018 season, Stories on Stage Sacramento presents two powerhouse, prize-winning short story writers – Dana Johnson and Melissa Yancy

This month, you’ll hear two complex, beautiful, very different stories about children, about love, and about the wrenching decisions parents face – from two highly praised authors

 

Dana Johnson

and Melissa Yancy

Dana Johnson Melissa Yancy

Friday, October 26 at the auditorium at CLARA, 1425 24th Street, Sacramento

Doors open at 7PM, readings begin at 7:30

readings by Ruby Sketchley and Lori Russo

The event is free: a $10 donation is suggested. 

About our Writers

Dana Johnson

Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for her short story collection Break Any Woman Down, twice nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Dana Johnson’s most recent collection In The Not Quite Dark was described in the Los Angeles Review as “stunning…triumphantly portraying the complexities of womanhood, race, and Los Angeles.” In a starred review, Publishers Weekly praised the book’s “masterly, morally engaged storytelling.” Dana Johnson’s novel Elsewhere, California was one of the nominees for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, along with Break Any Woman Down. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, Callaloo, The Iowa Review and Huizache, among others, and anthologized in Watchlist: 32 Stories by Persons of Interest, Shaking the Tree: A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women, and California Uncovered: Stories for the 21st Century. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, she is a professor of English at the University of Southern California.

Melissa Yancy

Melissa Yancy’s stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, One Story, Prairie Schooner, Zyzzyva, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. Her story collection Dog Years was selected by Richard Russo as winner of the 2016 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published by University of Pittsburgh Press in fall 2016. She is the recipient of a 2016 NEA Literature Fellowship.

Her stories “Dog Years” and “Consider this Case” received Special Mention in the 2016 Pushcart Prize XL. “Consider this Case” was also winner of The Missouri Review 2013 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize and the short story “Teeth Apart” was first-place winner of the 2011 Glimmer Train Fiction Open. She is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California, where she received an Edward Moses Award and Phi Kappa Phi Award. She lives in Los Angeles and works in the non-profit world.

About our Readers

Ruby Sketchley

Ruby Sketchley 2018Ruby Sketchley has performed locally at Sacramento Theatre Company, Capital Stage, Big Idea Theatre, KOLT, MSTW, and as an 1850’s tour guide in Old Sacramento. She’s a former company member of Big Idea Theatre and a former board member of the Capital Film Arts Alliance.
She and her husband own Tiny Octopus Productions, which produced the award winning documentary In The Parlor. She’s excited to be returning to Stories on Stage Sacramento.

Lori Russo

Lori Russo 2Lori is an alumni of the USC BFA program in Los Angeles. She has performed in Broadway touring companies of 42nd St. and Meet Me in St. Louis. Lori staged & choreographed New York premiers of Captains and Courage, The Unwritten Song and The Bus To Buenos Aires, and has staged and choreographed work for California Stage, Big Idea Theater and Capital Stage.. She has been a company member and resident choreographer with Sierra Repertory Theatre, performing in Lend Me A Tenor, Guys and Dolls, Comedy of Errors, A Streetcar Named Desire and most recently The Glass Menagerie and Vanya, Sonia, Masha & Spike. She appeared in Capital Stage’s productions of Superior Donuts and Good People, and in the Sacramento Theatre Company’s production of Mothers and Sons. Lori received an Elly award for best actress in Love Isadora with California Stage. She also teaches Movement for the Actor Workshops.

About Stories on Stage Sacramento 

Now in its ninth season, Stories on Stage Sacramento is proud of its record, as an all-volunteer organization,  of bringing the best in literary fiction, read by actors,  to a growing Sacramento audience. Our six 2017 events featured work by Steve Almond, Deborah Willis, Josh Barkan, Vanessa Hua, Joshua Mohr, the Los Rios Writers, and Josh Weil, as well as several of Sacramento’s notable emerging writers.  

Our 2018 season has featured, or will feature, the writers  Anne Raeff, Mira T. Lee, Elizabeth Tallent, Bob Sylva, Kirstin Chen, Tommy Orange, Vanessa Hua, Melissa Yancy and Dana Johnson. The dates for our 2018 season are: February 23, April 27, June 29, August 24, and October 26.  In addition, our annual showcase featuring the Los Rios Writers will take place on Friday, September 28.

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Friday, September 28 at Stories on Stage Sacramento: The Los Rios Writers

We are thrilled to once again bring you our annual showcase of work from the Los Rios Community Colleges – a quartet of exciting and original stories featured in the literary magazines Susurrus (Sacramento City College,) American River Review, Cosumnes River Journal, and The Machine (Folsom Lake Community College.) Writers include:

Andrew Blaisdell, Kelilah Thomas,

Kamea Pascua, and Patti Santucci

 

with readings by Imani Mitchell and Sam Jones

 

Los Rios Writers 2018 3

Friday, September 20 at the auditorium at CLARA, 1425 24th Street, Sacramento

Doors open at 7PM, readings begin at 7:30

The event is free: a $10 donation is suggested. Students $5, or whatever you can give.

 

About our Writers

Andrew Blaisdell (Sacramento City College, Susurrus) holds a BA in Art (photography) from San Francisco State University. After a brief stint as a professional photographer, he began a 25-year career as a professional writer, crafting marketing materials for technology companies in the San Francisco Bay area. He’s currently revisiting his passion for the fine arts: ceramics, photography, and literary fiction. “The Light of Charles Bukowski” is his first fictional short story..

Kelilah Thomas (Cosumnes River College, Cosumnes River Journal) is a second-year student, majoring in English. She works on campus as a student assistant for the English Department, and plans to transfer to either UC Santa Cruz or UC Riverside after the 2018-2019 academic year. She hopes to work for a publishing company, and, of course, become a bestselling author!

Kamea Pascua (Folsom Lake Community College, The Machine) is a twenty-year-old English major. She is an honors student and contributes to the school’s newspaper as well as the literary magazine. “Keep Your Mouth Shut” is the first piece she has had published in The Machine. She is grateful to creative writing teacher David Lacy, in whose class she was inspired to collect her written thoughts into the story, and to Josh Fernandez for including it in the publication.

Patti Santucci (American River College, American River Review) Patti Santucci earned her AA degree then started a business with her husband in 1988. After the birth of their daughter, she became a stay-at-home mom, volunteering at her child’s school. When her daughter left for college, she went back to school and consumed every creative writing course available at ARC. Patti has been published in American River Review, RePlay Magazine, Piker Press, and Literally Stories.

About our Readers

ImaniMitchellHeadshotActor and writer Imani Mitchell received her Associate’s degree in Theater Arts from Sacramento City College. Recently, she was featured in Capital Stage’s production of The Nether as Morris, and has appeared in leading roles with B Street Theatre, Capital Stage Company, Celebration Arts and Big Idea Theatre.

Sam Jones is an actor, dancer and musician. Recent appearances Sam Joneshave included Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Davis Shakespeare Festival, and roles in Man of La Mancha, The Donner Party, and The Tempest with the Sacramento Theatre Company. He’s a recent graduate in theatre and dance from Christopher Newport University in Virginia, and has trained at the Manhattan Film Institute and the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

About Stories on Stage Sacramento 

Now in its ninth season, Stories on Stage Sacramento is proud of its record, as an all-volunteer organization,  of bringing the best in literary fiction, read by actors,  to a growing Sacramento audience. Our six 2017 events featured work by Steve Almond, Deborah Willis, Josh Barkan, Vanessa Hua, Joshua Mohr, the Los Rios Writers, and Josh Weil, as well as several of Sacramento’s notable emerging writers.  

Our 2018 season has featured, or will feature, the writers  Anne Raeff, Mira T. Lee, Elizabeth Tallent, Bob Sylva, Kirstin Chen, Tommy Orange, Vanessa Hua, Melissa Yancy and Dana Johnson. The dates for our 2018 season are: February 23, April 27, June 29, August 24, and October 26.  In addition, our annual showcase featuring the Los Rios Writers will take place on Friday, September 28.

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Friday, August 24 at Stories on Stage Sacramento: Tommy Orange and Vanessa Hua

We’re back at CLARA on Friday, August 24, and oh, what a way to celebrate the end of summer – amazing stories from two groundbreaking debut novelists.

Tommy Orange

and

Vanessa Hua

with readings by Angel Rodriguez and Madison Cho

Tommy Orange Vanessa Hua plus books

About Tommy Orange

Oakland native and Angels Camp resident Tommy Orange burst onto the literary scene in June with his novel There There, a brilliant polyphonic telling of the fateful day when the book’s twelve main characters, all urban Indians, converge at a pow-wow in Oakland, California. Praise for the book has been lavish and wide-ranging, starting with Margaret Atwood, who called the book “a gripping deep dive into urban indigenous community in California: an astonishing literary debut,” and continuing with The New York Times, “groundbreaking, extraordinary – a new kind of American epic,” the Washington Post “masterful, white-hot – a devastating debut novel,” Entertainment Weekly, “the year’s most galvanizing debut novel.” There There is already in its sixth printing: it’s number one on the SF Chronicle best seller list and number eight on the New York Times Best-Seller list.

Tommy Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.

About Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua’s powerful debut novel, A River of Stars, will be published August 14, but it’s already gathering honors: the online literary site The Millions named it one of their most anticipated books of 2018, and it was selected by August LibraryReads as a “Top 10 New Release.” A modern story of motherhood, immigration, and identity, A River of Stars follows a pregnant Chinese woman as she makes her way to California and a stake in the American dream. Hua has been a practicing journalist for two decades: she’s currently a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of a much-praised short story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities, which was featured at Stories on Stage Sacramento in 2017. She’s the mother of twin boys and lives with her family in San Francisco

About our Readers

Madison Cho

Madison Cho


Making her debut at Stories on Stage Sacramento is Madison Cho She has recently appeared in productions of Macbeth and Titus Andronicus.  Madison will be reading an excerpt from Vanessa Hua’s debut novel, A River of Stars.

Angel Rodriguez

Angel Rodriguez

 

Angel Rodriguez is an actor and director from the Sacramento region. He holds a BA in Theatre from Sacramento State and has been in many CSUS’s productions including “James and the Giant Peach” as James, “Darskide” as The Boy and “Gypsy” as Tulsa. He has also been in many Latinx projects through Teatro Espejo and Latino Center of Arts and Culture including the roles of Rene in “Lydia” and Juan in “La Pastorela de Sacramento.”

About Stories on Stage Sacramento 

Now in its ninth season, Stories on Stage Sacramento is proud of its record, as an all-volunteer organization,  of bringing the best in literary fiction, read by actors,  to a growing Sacramento audience. Our six 2017 events featured work by Steve Almond, Deborah Willis, Josh Barkan, Vanessa Hua, Joshua Mohr, the Los Rios Writers, and Josh Weil, as well as several of Sacramento’s notable emerging writers.  

Our 2018 season has featured, or will feature, the writers  Anne Raeff, Mira T. Lee, Elizabeth Tallent, Bob Sylva, Kirstin Chen, Tommy Orange, Vanessa Hua, Melissa Yancy and Dana Johnson. The dates for our 2018 season are: February 23, April 27, June 29, August 24, and October 26.  In addition, our annual showcase featuring the Los Rios Writers will take place on Friday, September 28.

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A conversation with Kirstin Chen, author of BURY WHAT WE CANNOT TAKE and this month’s featured writer.

KirstinChen 2Bury What We Cannot Take is a story that eerily echoes today’s headlines: the tale of a family torn apart by the policies of a brutal government. Only it’s the 1950s, on mainland China, in the early days of the Maoist regime. Kirstin Chen‘s novel begins in a once-opulent villa on a tiny island in Southern China in 1957, with  brother and sister Ah Liam and San San witnessing their grandmother taking a hammer to a portrait of Chairman Mao. When the authorities learn of this, the family must flee to Hong Kong, but when they attempt to get the necessary permits, they’re forced to leave one child behind as proof that they’ll return. Chen’s novel, partially based on the experiences of her own family, explores how we rationalize impossible decisions, persist in the aftermath of agonizing loss, and probe the limits of familial love.

Thanks to Chen’s publisher, Little A, for the interview excerpted here, and for the photographs.

Q: What inspired you to write a novel set during this era?
A: From the start, my focus was on a single family and their particular struggles, and I feared that if I were to set the story during a more “well-known” time period such as the Great Leap Forward, or the Cultural Revolution, the history would overpower or otherwise take away from the personal. Additionally because 1957 was relatively early in Mao’s reign, it struck me as a period of great optimism and hope. People really wanted to believe in the new government and its ideologies, and that’s something that’s reflected in the book.
The story is told from multiple perspectives: first of all, San San, who is only nine years old when the rest of her family flees to Hong Kong and leaves her behind on Drum Wave Islet, as well as her 12-year-old brother, Ah Liam, and their parents and Bury What We Cannot Takegrandmother. Incorporating each family member’s perspective was important to me because each of them is complicit in San San’s abandonment, and each must come to terms with the sacrifices he’s willing to make to reunite the family. The multiple perspectives allowed me to delve into each character’s guilt and sadness and rage, as well as into his innermost thoughts—the secret ways in which he justifies his actions in order to keep going.

Q. How did you research the novel? What made it particularly challenging?
A. I read a lot of historical fiction, some of it set in China, around the same time period as my novel, like Yu Hua’s To Live and Eileen Chang’s Naked Earth, and some of it set in completely different parts of the world, like Edward P. Jones’s The Known World and Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I read memoirs, as well as history and economic texts. I watched films. I visited Drum Wave Islet (more commonly known as Gulangyu), Xiamen, and Hong Kong. Most importantly, however, I interviewed my aunt who had lived in that exact region of China during that time period.

My aunt’s story is fascinating in and of itself. As a child, she migrated with her family from Gulangyu to the Philippines. When she reached the age of 15 or 16, she ran away from home and returned to China to rebuild the Fatherland. (In the early 1950’s, a wave of overseas Chinese students—many still in high school—left their homes in South East Asia and returned to China.) My aunt wouldn’t see her parents again until the 1970’s.
She shared so many anecdotes and details that, even if they didn’t make it into the book, brought this world to life. For example, she told me how her cousin had taught her to roast sweet potatoes atop a cow-dung-fueled fire on the beaches of Gulangyu. Other stories were darker, especially those that took place during the famine: how she cut her own hair to use as fertilizer for the leeks she planted in her office plot, how as a young, pregnant reporter, she was sent to report on rural areas, and would get so exhausted and hungry that she’d simply lie down by the side of the road and sleep until she found the energy to keep going.

Q. Tell us about Drum Wave Islet, or as you mentioned it’s known in Chinese, Gulangyu.
A. Gulangyu is a truly enchanting place. It’s tiny—less than 1 sq

Bury What We Cannot Take photo 1

A mansion on Drum Wave Islet, more commonly known as Gulangyu

mi—and even today, cars and bicycles are banned. The island is known for its striking Colonial architecture, much of it built in the 19th century when it was a foreign concession. The island is also populated with opulent mansions built by the so-called overseas Chinese—Gulangyu natives who made their fortunes abroad. My family’s ancestral home is one such mansion, and it inspired the novel’s Diamond Villa. (My family home has since been transformed into a quite lovely hotel.)

When I visited the island back in 2008 and 2011, I was so taken with these beautiful stately homes, some of them crumbling and taken over by squatters, but still charming nonetheless. Thanks to these preserved structures, as well as the absence of motor vehicles, parts of the island feel suspended in time. It was easy for me to imagine what the place looked like in the late 50’s.

Bury What We Cannot Take photo 2

On the grounds on the author’s ancestral home, now a hotel on Gulangyu

I still have distant relatives who live on the island. The last time I visited, I was accompanied by my father, and he brought me to see a grand aunt who has since passed away. My father had told me she’d had a very difficult life: she’d been born into wealth, but, following the revolution and the death of her husband, she’d been so poor she’d had to take in laundry from wealthier households to feed her children. At the beginning of our visit, he told my grand aunt that I was writing a novel about Gulangyu and was interested in hearing her memories from the 1950’s. Almost immediately, her eyes welled up and she grew too emotional to speak. In a way, that told me everything I needed to know.

 

Q. What did you learn or take away from writing this book?
A. Writing this book gave me an opportunity to explore the myriad ways in which women uphold and enforce the very systems that subordinate them, something we continue to see today. (I’m thinking, for instance, of all the women who voted for Trump.) This book also gave me a window into my own family history—the discrimination and effacement suffered by my grandmothers, the values they passed down to my mother (and father), and which my parents passed on to me.
My mom was born in 1951, just three years after San San. I often forget that she grew up in a world where leaving a daughter behind in order to save a son was a choice that would have been taken for granted. In writing this book, I’ve gained a new admiration for the progressiveness of her views. At the same time, I better understand the need for me to occasionally temper my expectations.

Meet the author and hear an excerpt from Bury What We Cannot Take read by actor Justin Meng Lee, at Stories on Stage Sacramento, Friday June 22, at 7:30 PM at the Sacramento Poetry Center, 25th and R Streets, Sacramento. Copies of the book will be for sale: Kirstin will be happy to sign yours! Admission is free: a $10 donation is suggested. 

 

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Friday, June 22 at Stories on Stage Sacramento: Escaping Chairman Mao

Stories on Stage Sacramento is delighted to present new work from Kirstin Chen, author of Soy Sauce for Beginners and a recently released novel, Bury What We Cannot Take, about a family attempting to escape from Chairman Mao’s regime.  Appearing with Ms. Chen will be Stephen Cook.  Readings by Ethan Ireland and Justin Meng Lee. At The Sacramento Poetry Center, 1719 25th Street, 25th and R Complex, Sacramento, on Friday, June 22, at 7:30 PM. Admission is free: a $10 donation is suggested.

(PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE FROM OUR USUAL LOCATION)

Stories on Stage Sac June 2018

About our writers and readers

A native of Singapore who now lives in San Francisco, Kirstin Chen’s second novel, Bury What We Cannot Take, is set in the complicated and terrifying early years of the Maoist regime.  It tells the story of a family attempting to escape from mainland China to Hong Kong, primarily through the horrifying experiences of the nine-year-old daughter who is left behind.  Bury What We Cannot Take  was praised as “evocative” and “a fascinating family portrait” in a Publisher’s Weekly starred review, and was named a Most Anticipated Upcoming Book by Electric Literature, The Millions, The Rumpus, Harper’s Bazaar, and InStyle, among others. Chen’s first novel, Soy Sauce for Beginners, was a Kindle First selection, an O, The Oprah Magazine “book to pick up now,” and a Glamour book club pick. She was the fall 2017 NTU-NAC National Writer in Residence in Singapore, and has received awards from the Steinbeck Fellows Program, Sewanee, Hedgebrook, and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. Her short stories have appeared in Zyzzyva, Hobart, Pank, and the Best New Singaporean Short Stories. She holds an MFA from Emerson College and a BA from Stanford University. Chen is working on a novel about the counterfeit handbag trade.

Stephen P. Cook is the author of Two Rivers: Lieutenant John Bullis and His Days Commanding the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts (I St. Press), which was a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards for Historical Fiction. Cook has also published short stories, book reviews, and scholarly essays, one of which, “Into the Wild: Chris McCandless and His Search for a Yonder” appears in New Wests and Post Wests. His non-fiction text, Realizing Westward: American Character and Cowboy Mythology was awarded best of category and best of show at the New England Booksellers Convention. He teaches English at Sacramento State.

Ethan Ireland is a multidisciplinary veteran of the film, television and theater trade, with sixteen years as a working professional in both performance and technical roles. The son of noted ‘lit noir’ author Patrick Ireland, Ethan is a writer & director of several short films, and has worked as a voice actor and a performer for both stage and screen since 1995. Most recently he appeared  in EMH’s productions of After Hours and An Almost Perfect Person.  He has performed on many occasions at Stories on Stage Sacramento and at Now Hear This: A Story and Music Performance Series produced by Atim Udoffia.

Making his debut at Stories on Stage Sacramento is Justin Meng Lee, who is currently attending California State University Sacramento and is a 3rd year Theatre Major. He’s appeared in the musicals  Annie and Guys and Dolls at Sac State.

About Stories on Stage Sacramento 

Now in its ninth season, Stories on Stage Sacramento is proud of its record, as an all-volunteer organization,  of bringing the best in literary fiction, read by actors,  to a growing Sacramento audience. Our six 2017 events featured work by Steve Almond, Deborah Willis, Josh Barkan, Vanessa Hua, Joshua Mohr, the Los Rios Writers, and Josh Weil, as well as several of Sacramento’s notable emerging writers.  

The dates for our 2018 season are: February 23, April 27, June 29, August 24, and October 26.  In addition, our annual showcase featuring the Los Rios Writers will take place on Friday, September 28.

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At Stories on Stage Sacramento, Friday April 27- riveting stories you can’t forget by Elizabeth Tallent and Bob Sylva, read by Eric Baldwin and Matt Rives.

Elizabeth Tallent Bob Sylva

ELIZABETH TALLENT with BOB SYLVA

Friday, April 27at the Auditorium at CLARA

1425 24th Street, Sacramento

Doors open at 7, readings begin at 7:30

a $10 donation is suggested

 

Elizabeth Tallent’s work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Best American Essays, and The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, The New Yorker, Esquire, and Harper’s Magazine, among many others.  Her latest short story collection, Mendocino Fire, was published in 2015 to lavish praise from The New York Times, which called the collection “enchanting” and singled our her “ability to create characters who force us to withhold judgment and leave us gasping at their absolute, solid reality.”  Tin House described it as “driving, furious, erotic, gilded, the sentences flying at you like arrows.”  Mendocino Fire was a finalist for the 2016 Pen/Faulkner Award, and includes the story “Tabriz,” which won a Pushcart Prize and will be read by Eric Baldwin at the Stories on Stage Sacramento event.  Previous published collections include In Constant Flight, Time with Children, and Honey, as well as the novel Museum Pieces. Her memoir, Perfectionism, will be published this year by Harper’s

She has taught since 1989 in Stanford’s Creative Writing Program and lives with her wife, an antiques dealer, on the Mendocino coast.

 

Bob Sylva’s name will be familiar to Sacramento Bee readers: he enjoyed a long career  at the newspaper, where, well before the era of farm-to-fork, he wrote seasonal features and a column which showcased the city’s then-unheralded diversity. Today, he continues to write, struggles to acquire a primitive French, and spends hours in his Japanese-inspired garden, imagining what-would-Isamu Noguchi do, while divining the whims of large rocks. The King of Karaoke is his debut collection of short stories, many drawn from his experience as a journalist in the Sacramento Valley,  a “world inhabited by struggling souls who, despite all, exhibit virtues of optimism, ambition, resilience, and conviction.” The title story of the collection will be read by Matt Rives.

 

About Stories on Stage Sacramento 

Now in its ninth season, Stories on Stage Sacramento is proud of its record, as an all-volunteer organization,  of bringing the best in literary fiction, read by actors,  to a growing Sacramento audience. Our six 2017 events featured work by Steve Almond, Deborah Willis, Josh Barkan, Vanessa Hua, Joshua Mohr, the Los Rios Writers, and Josh Weil, as well as several of Sacramento’s notable emerging writers.  We’ve had a continuing uptick in attendance since we moved to our beautiful new home, the auditorium at CLARA, the E Claire Raley Studio for the Arts. 

The dates for our 2018 season are: February 23, April 27, June 29, August 24, and October 26.  In addition, our annual showcase featuring the Los Rios Writers will take place on Friday, September 28.

 

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We’re back! On Friday, February 23! It’s our 9th season, and we’re thrilled to bring you new work from Anne Raeff and Mira T Lee.

Anne Raeff - Mira T Lee

ANNE RAEFF and MIRA T. LEE

Friday, February 23 at the Auditorium at CLARA

1425 24th Street, Sacramento

Doors open at 7, readings begin at 7:30

a $10 donation is suggested

Anne Raeff’s second novel, Winter Kept Us Warm, will be published February 13 by Counterpoint Press and has already earned praise from Kirkus Reviews for its “haunting events and slow-burning passions.”  Anne is a child of immigrants, and much of her writing, including this novel,  draws on her family’s history as refugees from war and the Holocaust. Her short story collection, The Jungle Around Us won the 2015 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, was named a finalist for the California Book Award, and appears on The San Francisco Chronicle’s 100 Best Books of 2017 list. Her stories and essays have appeared in New England Review, ZYZZYVA, and Guernica among other places. Her first novel, Clara Mondschein’s Melancholia, was published in 2002 (MacAdam/Cage.  Anne is a high school teacher, working primarily with recent immigrants, and she lives in San Francisco with her wife and two cats.

Mira T. Lee’s debut novel, Everything Here is Beautiful,  published in January, was selected by the American Booksellers Association as one of Winter/Spring 2018’s Top 10 Debut titles. “An evocative and beautifully written debut,” says Kirkus Reviews, and from O Magazine: “Not a false note to be found, and everywhere nuggets to savor…”  Mira T Lee’s short fiction has appeared in journals such as the Southern Review, the Gettysburg Review, the Missouri Review, Triquarterly, Harvard Review, and American Short Fiction, and has twice received special mention for the Pushcart Prize. She was awarded the Peden Prize for Best Short Story by The Missouri Review (2010), and an Artist’s Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council (2012). In her previous lives, Mira has also been known as a graphic designer, a pop-country drummer, a salsa dancing fanatic, and a biology grad school dropout. Mira is an alum of Stanford University, and currently lives in Cambridge, Massachuetts

Readers for this event will be Allyson Finn and Yuri Tajiri.

Allyson Finn 2Allyson Finn has appeared in short films from the Art Institute of Sacramento and as an Elf in Morgan and the Magical Christmas Train, and as the reader for the Stories on Stage/Community of Writers event featuring the novelist Janet Fitch. She’ll be seen at a variety of venues this spring, including Freefall Stage (4 Deaths and a Wedding,) EMH Productions (Fragile Things) and ComedySportz. When not stepping into the spotlight, Allyson consults and coaches business clients through her home based business, Business Mastery by Finn.

Yuri Tajiri 2Yuri Tajiri‘s past favorite roles have included the Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show (Green Valley Theatre) and Linda in Evil Dead The Musical (Sutter Street Theatre). Yuri holds a BA in Theatre Arts from CSU Sacramento and works as a photographer and model when not onstage.

 

About Stories on Stage Sacramento 

Entering its ninth season, Stories on Stage Sacramento is proud of its record, as an all-volunteer organization,  of bringing the best in literary fiction, read by actors,  to a growing Sacramento audience. Our six 2017 events featured work by Steve Almond, Deborah Willis, Josh Barkan, Vanessa Hua, Joshua Mohr, the Los Rios Writers, and Josh Weil, as well as several of Sacramento’s notable emerging writers.  We’ve had a continuing uptick in attendance since we moved to our beautiful new home, the auditorium at CLARA, the E Claire Raley Studio for the Arts. 

The dates for our 2018 season are: February 23, April 27, June 29, August 24, and October 26.  In addition, our annual showcase featuring the Los Rios Writers will take place on Friday, September 28.

 

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