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A Memoir Shining a Light on Undocumented Immigrants Living in the Shadows

City of Asylum (2018)

José Ángel N.

Monday, January 15th
8:00 pm

Author José Ángel N. will read from his memoir, the valiant story of a man living the American dream — illegally.

“With great eloquence and pathos, N. draws on his daily life and references philosophers from Socrates to Kant to describe the netherworld of the undocumented.” — Booklist

Arriving in the 1990s with a 9th grade education, N. traveled to Chicago where he found access to ESL and GED classes. He eventually attended college and graduate school and became a professional translator.

Jose Angel N

Despite having a well-paying job, N. was isolated by a lack of official legal documentation. Travel concerns made big promotions out of reach. Vacation time was spent hiding at home, pretending that he was on a long-planned trip. The simple act of purchasing his girlfriend a beer at a Cubs baseball game caused embarrassment and shame when N. couldn’t produce a valid ID. A frustrating contradiction, N. lived in a luxury high-rise condo but couldn’t fully live the American dream. He did, however, find solace in the one gift America gave him – his education.

N’s story represents the triumph of education over adversity. He debunks the stereotype that undocumented immigrants are freeloaders, uninterested in education or opportunity for advancement. With bravery and honesty, he details the constraints, deceptions and humiliations that characterize alien life “amid the shadows.”

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Christmas Story Hour at City Books

City Books Story Hour

Happy Holidays from City Books

Before the store closes for the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day break, join City Books for an hour of holiday literature, including local playwright and storyteller T. Scott Frank reading Clement Clarke Moore’s The Night Before Christmas. The event will be suitable for families & children of all ages.

Saturday, December 23rd, 4:00-5:00 pm. Refreshments available.

Introducing Free Association’s Word Cellar Series at Alphabet City

City of Asylum (2018)

Word Cellar Readings

Sunday, January 21st
5:00 pm

The Word Cellar Readings is a new reading series co-curated by Pat Hart and Marc Nieson of Free Association, a literary organization highlighting established and emerging writers in Pittsburgh. Come meet and mingle with some of Pittsburgh’s most exciting local voices downstairs in our intimate stone “word cellar” located on Alphabet City’s bottom level.

This premier installment will feature Words Without Walls co-founder Sheryl St. Germain, author and photographer of Cutthroat: A Journey Through the American West Michael Graybrook, New Yorker contributor and Buzzfeed essayist Shannon Reed and writer/editor Geeta Kothari. City of Asylum @ Alphabet City is honored to be selected as the venue for this inspiring program of authors.

Seating for this event is limited.

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Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

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When making your reservation,
please add that you wish to see the film under special notes.

Tomorrow Night 11/4: Gary Fincke

Gary Fincke

Please join City Books as we welcome Gary Fincke on Saturday, November 4th at 7:00 pm as he reads from his new short story collection The Out-Of-Sorts. A book signing will follow and the event is free.

Gary is the author of seven short story collections, including A Room of Rain; The Proper Words for Sin; Sorry I Worried You, a winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction; and The Killer’s Dog, an Elixir Press Fiction Prize winner. His stories have appeared in such magazines as the Missouri Review, Kenyon Review, Black Warrior Review, and CrazyHorse.

“There’s no glamour in Gary Fincke’s world, just tough times and hard work. From early on his people know how uncertain life can be—how easy it is to lose hope, and how, sometimes, to get by, we bury what we can’t face.”
– Stewart O’Nan, author of Snow Angels and Last Night at the Lobster

The new and selected stories in this collection, written over a period of thirty years, are firmly entrenched in the culture and people of rust belt cities and rural Appalachia.

These stories are often set against large, significant events like the Cold War, Vietnam, and the Kent State shootings, but are always uniquely local: A mother fends off the police by brandishing copperhead snakes; a woman cares for the dog of an alleged double murderer; a husband who has lost his job works at trying to save his wife from a debilitating phobia.

Black Detroit: A New History of an Iconic City

City of Asylum (2017)

Black Detroit

Friday, November 3rd
7:00 pm

Join the Sembène Film & Arts Festival for a reading with award-winning journalist/activist Herb Boyd, as he discusses his latest book, Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination.

Black Detroit is a groundbreaking history of the struggles and resilience of African Americans from the city’s birth two hundred years ago until the present.

Herb Boyd

“Boyd…breathes new life into the history of Detroit through stories of the city’s black residents from its earliest days to its bittersweet present…He leaves no stone unturned, making his work an invaluable repository of all that is black Detroit.” – Publishers Weekly

Herb Boyd moved to Detroit in 1943, as race riots were engulfing the city. In Black Detroit, he reflects on his life and this landmark place, combining deep passion and a stunning eye for detail to seamlessly blend personal experience, exhaustive research, and eyewitness accounts to document the Motor City’s work ethic and spirit of resistance.

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Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

Reserve a Table for Your Visit

When making your reservation,
please add that you wish to see the film under special notes.

“Moby Dick” Re-Imagined

City of Asylum (2017)

Paul Eprile

Tuesday, October 17th
8:00 pm

Translator Paul Eprile will be reading from his translation of winner Jean Giono’s Melville: A Novel. It has never been translated into English before.

Melville: A Novel is a work with a unique pedigree. Eighty years after it appeared in English, Moby Dick was translated into French for the first time by the Provençal novelist Jean Giono. The publisher persuaded Giono to write a preface, however Giono took unusual latitudes with this instruction, producing instead something that would transcend the original source material. The result was Melville: A Novel — part biography, part philosophical rumination, part romance, part unfettered fantasy. Paul Eprile’s expressive translation of this intimate homage brings the exchange full circle.

Paul Eprile

“Giono illustrates how an author’s artistic output enriches and illuminates his life, in ways that historical facts cannot provide…Giono expands Melville’s context, painting him as a transatlantic heir to Milton and Shakespeare. At the same time, he also expands Melville’s own influence, cementing his impact on French culture, which has been considerable.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

Paul’s passion for the French language and French literature, and a fascination with Provence, led him to begin translating the works of Jean Giono. His first translation, Hill (Colline) was published by New York Review Books in 2016. The second, Melville: A Novel (Pour saluer Melville) will appear in September 2017. Paul is now working on a third Giono novel, The Open Road (Les grands chemins).

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Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

Reserve a Table for Your Visit

When making your reservation,
please add that you wish to see the film under special notes.

The Warhol Presents a Talk About Iranian Art

City of Asylum (2017)

The Andy Warhol Museum Presents

Crossing the Red Line:
Exhibiting Iranian Art in the U.S.

Saturday, October 21st
2:00 pm

In conjunction with The Andy Warhol Museum’s “Go West” exhibition, The Warhol will host a conversation with independent scholar and curator Dr. Shiva Balaghi on what it means to exhibit, write about, critique, and view contemporary Iranian art at museums in the United States.

Shiva Balaghi

Author of Picturing Iran: Art Society and Revolution, Balaghi was among the first faculty to introduce the subject of Contemporary Middle Eastern Art at U.S. universities, teaching cultural history for nearly two decades at NYU and Brown University. Most recently she has contributed to the catalog for “Farhad Moshiri: Go West”, the first museum solo exhibit for one of Iran’s most prominent artists.

Warhol Stripe

This event is co-presented with The Andy Warhol Museum.

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Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

Reserve a Table for Your Visit

When making your reservation,
please add that you wish to see the film under special notes.

“A rare new breed of dog memoir; think Patti Smith’s Just Kids.” – Library Journal

City of Asylum (2017)

Eileen Myles

Tuesday, October 10th
8:00 pm

Guggenheim Fellowship-recipient Eileen Myles will read from the new book Afterglow (A dog memoir), a portrait of Eileen’s beloved canine confidant: a pit bull called Rosie.

In 1990, Eileen chose Rosie from a litter on the street, and their connection instantly became central to the writer’s life and work. During the course of their sixteen years together, Eileen was madly devoted to the dog’s well-being, especially in her final days. Starting from the emptiness following Rosie’s death, Afterglow launches a heartfelt and fabulist investigation into the true nature of the bond between pet and pet-owner.

Eileen Myles

“Long a figure in the counter-culture but recently the writer Eileen Myles has become
something of a household name.” ― The New York Times

Eileen Myles – whose many honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction, four Lambda Literary Awards, the Clark Prize for Excellence in Art Writing, the Shelley Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America – is the author of more than twenty books. Eileen’s poems were also featured in seasons 2 and 3 of the Emmy-winning show Transparent.

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Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

Reserve a Table for Your Visit

When making your reservation,
please add that you wish to see the film under special notes.

Diana Nelson Jones @ City Books

Diana Nelson Jones
You are invited to join us on Saturday night (September 23rd) when City Books holds the local launch of The Love of Baseball, a new collection of essays edited by Post-Gazette writer (and Northsider!) Diana Nelson Jones. Written by and for baseball fans (or those trying to live with one), this collection of essays joins a perennial conversation all fans have— “Why do we love baseball?” Thirty contributors share personal narratives of how they found an abiding passion for the sport and how their relationship to it changed over the years. Tracing the thematic arc of a typical season, the essays begin with stories of spring training optimism, followed by the guts and grind of the regular season, and ending with the glory (or heartbreak) of the playoffs. Discussion and book signing to follow.

“Colombia’s most exciting writer” Launches the Translation of His New Novel

City of Asylum (2017)

Santiago Gamboa

Tuesday, September 19th
8:00 pm

Novelist, short story writer, journalist and Otra Orilla Literary Prize winner Santiago Gamboa (Colombia) will be debuting his newly published novel Return to the Dark Valley here at Alphabet City.

In a narrative that moves across continents, from Spain to Ethiopia and Latin America, Return to the Dark Valley examines the life of Manuela Beltrán — a poet haunted by a troubled childhood. Her vendetta takes her around the world and puts her in the company of a vibrant cast of characters each wrestling with their own demons. These characters animate Gamboa’s richly imagined portrait of a hostile, turbulent world where liberation is found in perpetual movement and determined exploration.
Santiago Gamboa
“Each novel by Santiago Gamboa is at the forefront of the best Latin American novels. Gamboa dismantles the legacy of Chandler and Hammett, adapting it to the craggy environs of Colombia, and adds to it a tireless sense of ethics. His novels revitalize a genre that we thought could do no more.” — Martin Solares

Gamboa — one of Colombia’s most exciting writers — infuses his stories with a dose of inky dark noir that makes his novels intensely readable, his characters unforgettable, and his style influential.

Reserve Your Free Tickets

Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

Reserve a Table for Your Visit

When making your reservation,
please add that you wish to see the film under special notes.