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806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

“Gut-wrenching and undeniably relevant to today’s world…”

City of Asylum (2017)

Kamila Shamsie

Saturday, August 26th
4:30 pm

Two-time Orange Prize nominee Kamila Shamsie (Pakistan) will be reading from her newly published novel Home Fire, one of the most anticipated novels of the year.

A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of an immigrant Muslim family torn apart when loyalties and politics collide. Set against the multiple backdrops of modern London, American academia and the Syrian conflict, Kamila’s novel explores the complexities of nationalism, religious extremism and bigotry, ultimately asking: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?

Kamila Shamsie

Raised in Karachi and now living in London, Kamila Shamsie is the author of several previous widely-praised novels, including Broken Verses and Burnt Shadows among others. She has been a finalist for the Orange Prize (twice) and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and has been named one of Granta‘s Best of Young British Novelists and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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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.

Pultizer Prize Winner and Author of Negroland Margo Jefferson Speaks June 27

City of Asylum (2017)

Margo Jefferson

Thursday, June 27th
8:00 pm

Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic and author Margo Jefferson will be reading from her multi-award winning autobiography Negroland, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Heartland Prize.

Margo Jefferson

Margo places a critical lens to her childhood growing up among the Chicago’s upper-crust, elite black social sphere – a world she dubs “Negroland.” Widely regarded as one of 2016’s Best Books of the Year (as noted by such publications as The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Time, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, Time Out New York and others), Negroland is a provocative work on privilege, discrimination, and the fallacy of post-racial America.

Jefferson is a national treasure and her memoir should be required reading across the country. – Vanity Fair

Margo is a professor at Columbia University and has been a staff writer for The New York Times and Newsweek, and has published in New York Magazine, The Nation, The Washington Post, The Believer, Guernica, Bookforum, O, the Oprah Magazine, Vogue and Grand Street. Not shy about tackling potentially controversial subject matter, Jefferson’s essays have weighed in on such topics as Ebonics, “race ennui” and black feminism. She also wrote and performed a theater piece, Sixty Minutes in Negroland, at The Cherry Lane Theater and The Culture Project.

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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.

Nigerian Author Unoma Azuah: The Body as Politics

City of Asylum (2017)

Unoma Azuah

Tuesday, May 23rd
8:00 pm

Award-winning writer and LGBT activist Unoma Azuah (Nigeria) will be reading from her collection Blessed Body: Secret lives of LGBT Nigerians.

Unoma Azuah

Forced to live invisible lives because of Nigerian’s harsh anti-LGBT laws, the courageous narrators in Unoma’s collection give voice to those Nigerians faced with the challenge of discovering and exploring their sexuality in the midst of hate and imprisonment. In spite of the political and social persecution they encounter and haunted by the specter of AIDS, they continue to endure, love and thrive.

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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

Two City of Asylum Writers – and the Novels that Led to their Exile

City of Asylum (2017)

Israel Centeno & Yaghoub Yadali

Sunday, May 16th
8:00 pm

City of Asylum exiled writers-in-residence Israel Centeno (Venezuela) & Yaghoub Yadali (Iran) will be reading excerpts from the novels that led to their exiles. City of Asylum commissioned translations, and they have been published by Phoneme Media. They will be available in the City of Asylum Bookstore and soon bookstores everywhere.

Following the bilingual readings by the authors, Phoneme founder David Shook will lead a conversation with the authors about their personal experiences of exile, their sources of continuing inspiration, and what it’s like to hear their work in English.

Rituals of Restlessness
The Conspiracy

City of Asylum is honored to partner with Phoneme Media – a nonprofit media company dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding, connecting people and ideas through translated books and films – to bring these writers’ voices to new audiences.

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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

Lauded Author Porochista Khakpour Debuts Manuscript

City of Asylum (2017)

Porochista Khakpour

Friday, April 28th
8:00 pm

Award-winning author Porochista Khakpour (Iran) will present her forthcoming work, Sick: A Life of Lyme, Love, Illness, and Addiction. The book is being published by Harper in 2018, and this is the first time it will be presented by the author.

Best known for her groundbreaking works of fiction, Porochista breaks new ground with this memoir of chronic illness, repeated misdiagnosis, and addiction. Her book feels especially timely in the context of the conflict over the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Porochista Khakpour

Porochista’s previous novel The Last Illusion was a 2014 “Best Book of the Year” according to NPR, Kirkus, Buzzfeed, Popmatters, Electric Literature, and more. Her first novel Sons and Other Flammable Objects was 2007’s California Book Award winner in “First Fiction,” one of the Chicago Tribune’s “Fall’s Best,” and a New York Times “Editor’s Choice.” Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera America and many other publications around the world.

Porochista’s visit to City of Asylum was made possible by author Mia Alvar, who read at COA in 2015 and is a member of our national Advisory Board.

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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

An Evening of Poetry on April 22

Independent Bookstore Day

Join City Books in celebration of National Poetry Month on Saturday, April 22 at 7:00 pm when we host two of Pittsburgh best local poets.

 

Jennifer Jackson BerryJennifer Jackson Berry’s first full length collection of poetry The Feeder was released from YesYes Books in December 2016. The manuscript was offered publication from the 2015 Pamet River Prize finalist list. She is also the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications 2014) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press 2003). She is the Editor-in-Chief of Pittsburgh Poetry Review and Assistant Editor of WomenArts Quarterly Journal. She is a proud member of the Madwomen in the Attic and lives in Pittsburgh.

Jay CarsonJay Carson holds a Doctor of Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University and taught at Robert Morris University for many years, where he was a faculty advisor to the student literary journal, Rune. Now a full-time writer, Jay is the author of a chapbook, Irish Coffee, and a longer book of poetry, The Cinnamon of Desire. He has published more than 80 poems in local and national journals, magazines, and collections, including Connecticut Review, Folio, The Fourth River, Edison Literary Review, Louisville Review, and Southern Indiana Review.

Mardi Gras at City Books on February 28th

Celebrate Mardi Gras with Literature!

Join City Books on Tuesday, February 28th from 7:00-9:00 pm for an energetic evening of language and poetry with Marc Nieson and Adriana E. Ramirez.

Marc NiesonMarc Niesson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and NYU Film School. His background includes children’s theatre, cattle chores, and a season with a one-ring circus. His memoir, Schoolhouse: Lessons on Love & Landscape, was released from Ice Cube Press in 2016. He’s won a Raymond Carver Short Story Award, Pushcart Prize nominations, and been noted in Best American Essays. He teaches at Chatham University, edits fiction for The Fourth River, and is at work on a new novel, Houdini’s Heirs.

Adriana E RamirezAdriana E. Ramírez is a Mexican-Colombian writer based in Pittsburgh. She won the inaugural PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize in 2015 for her novella-length work of nonfiction, Dead Boys, and in 2016 was named Critic at Large for the Los Angeles Times Book Section. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica/PEN America, Literary Hub, Convolution, and on Nerve.com. She was featured in the2014 Legends of Poetry Slam Showcase and in TEDxHouston, as well as in the 2016 Three Rivers Arts Festival. Her debut full-length work of nonfiction, The Violence, is forthcoming from Scribner.

See you at City Books for both readings…

City Books Invites You to Plays-in-Progress: Staged Readings

Plays In Progress

Join City Book this Saturday, February 11, from 7:00-9:00 pm for an evening of staged dramatic readings from five Pittsburgh-area playwrights. The event is free.

A staged reading is a performance of a play without costumes or sets, voiced by actors while seated or moving only minimally. The stage directions are read aloud by a narrator. The purpose of a staged reading is to provide the writer or director insight into the effectiveness of the drama while it’s being developed. Audience feedback after the show is an integral part of the process. Celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early and experience the collaborative energy of drama as it’s made. Please see the City Books website for bios of the playwrights.

Award-winning Chatham University novelist Marc Nieson Debuts Memoir

City of Asylum (12th Year)

Marc Nieson

Friday, December 9th
8:00 pm

City of Asylum @ Alphabet City
40 W North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

“Someone once told me that School and Life were different; in school they give you the lessons before the test, in life it’s the other way around.“

Marc Nieson, Schoolhouse: Lessons on Love + Landscape

Join us on Friday, December 9th for a reading by long-time friend of City of Asylum, Chatham professor and author Marc Nieson. We are honored to host a reading of his newly published book Schoolhouse: Lessons on Love + Landscape, in which he explores love, identity, and writing during his time in Iowa.

Structured like a schoolhouse primer, Marc’s personal and introspective memoir examines his life subject by subject. Each subject – from “Geography” to “History” to “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” – is a chapter describing his life-changing experience as part of the University of Iowa’s intensive writers’ retreat.

Marc will be joined by visiting City of Asylum writer-in-residence Ukamaka Olisakwe (Nigeria) from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

Marc NiesonMarc Nieson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and NYU Film School. In the 1990s he worked with the International Writing Program, and is thrilled to be joining their ranks again for this reading. His memoir, Schoolhouse: Lessons on Love & Landscape just released from Ice Cube Press. (www.icecubepress.com) He’s won a Raymond Carver Short Story Award, Pushcart Prize nominations, and been noted in Best American Essays. He teaches at Chatham University, edits fiction for The Fourth River, and is at work on a new novel, Houdini’s Heirs.

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Do animals have a sense of humor? Find out on November 5th at Alphabet City

City of Asylum (12th Year)

In partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

Vinciane Despret

Saturday, November 5th
8:00 pm

City of Asylum @ Alphabet City
40 W North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

What Would Animals Say...Do apes really know how to ape? Do animals form same-sex relations? Can animals create art? Are these even the right way to ask the questions?

Vinciane’s book, What Would Animals Say If We Asked The Right Questions?, poses twenty-six such questions that stretch our preconceived ideas about what animals do, what they think about and what they want.
In an abecedarium of twenty-six chapters, Vinciane Despret argues that behaviors we identify as separating humans from animals do not actually properly belong to humans. She does so by exploring incredible and often funny adventures about animals and their involvements with researchers, farmers, zookeepers, handlers and other human beings. These deftly translated accounts oblige us, along the way, to engage in both ethology and philosophy. She combines serious scholarship with humor that resonates.

Vinciane Despret

Vinciane Despret studied philosophy and, later, psychology, coming back to philosophy with her PhD in 1996. Her first field work was in the Negev desert, in Israel, where she explored the possibility of doing an ethology of the ethologists. She then wrote her PhD about the scientific practices that study emotions in humans and in animals. Currently she is Maître de conferences at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Liège, and at the Faculty of Anthropology and Social Sciences and Faculty of Psychology and Sciences of Education at the Free University of Brussels.

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