L.A.’s Top Literary Events in April

From the biggest literary festival in the country to a throwdown between some of the city’s best writers, there’s something for everyone this month

Literary Death Match at Theatre at Ace Hotel
April 1
Every month, four writers stand in front of a crowd and read their own work for seven minutes all while being assessed by all-star judges. This month marks Literary Death Match’s ten-year anniversary, and so they will be hosting two battles: On April 1, readers Susan Orlean, Danez Smith, Chris Abani, and Kristin Valdez Quade will be judged by Silicon Valley’s Zach Woods and Martin Starr as well as Lena Waithe and Michaela Watkins. On April 8, readers Bruce Eric Kaplan, Leah Hayes, Assaf Gavron, and Naomi Hirahara will take the stage at Largo to be judged by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley, Ginger Gonzaga, Maria Bamford, and yet another Silicon Valley star, Thomas Middleditch.
Cover: $30    

Kim Dower at Book Soup
April 3
Dower will be discussing and signing her third collection of poetry, Last Train to the Missing Planet. Her poetry has been described by The Los Angeles Times as “sensual and evocative…seamlessly combining humor and heartache,” and by O Magazine as “unexpected and sublime.”
Cover: Free

StorySLAM at Zanzibar
April 5
Do you want to sit back and be entertained or get up and join the fun? The choice is yours at this storytelling bonanza. If you have a funny story to tell, a joke to make, or a ridiculous observation to, well, observe, sign up for a five-minute slot to try to make the listeners laugh.
Cover: $10

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC
April 9-10
The biggest literary festival in the country takes place right here in L.A., and it is almost entirely free (consider mapping out your trip ahead of time to determine if you’ll need to purchase tickets for any of the panels you’re considering). From books to celebrities to food trucks to performances for the kids, there is something for everybody over this weekend-long event. This year’s panelists include Arianna Huffington, Carrie Brownstein, Buzz Aldrin, Joyce Carol Oates, Henry Winkler, Aimee and Karen Bender, T.C. Boyle, OJ Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, Geoff Dyer, Pico Iyer, Jonathan Lethem, Mona Simpson, and about 600 more of the biggest and up and coming names in literature.
Cover: Free

Laura Tillman at Vroman’s
April 14
As a journalist in Brownsville, Texas in 2008, Laura Tillman covered the aftermath of one of the most horrifying murders in one of America’s poorest cities: the murder of three young children by their parents, Allen Rubio and Angela Camacho. For years Laura explored the crimes and the effects they had on an already struggling community. The end product is the book The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts: Murder and Memory in an American City, which explores some of our age’s most important social issues, from poverty to mental illness to the death penalty, and a beautiful, profound meditation on the truly human forces that drive them.
Cover: Free

NOFX at Book Soup
April 16
L.A. punk band NOFX looks back at more than thirty years of comedy, tragedy, and inexplicable success in their first tell-all autobiography, The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories. Readers will be shocked by the stories of murder, suicide, addiction, counterfeiting, riots, bondage, terminal illness, the Yakuza, and urine—lots and lots of urine.
Cover: Free

YALLWEST at Santa Monica High School
April 30-May 1
Yet another festival takes place in L.A. this month, this one focusing on young adult works. This event will include 60 panels over the course of the weekend featuring more than 100 authors, including Rainbow Rowell, Veronica Roth, and Ransom Riggs. Over 10,000 teens and their parents are expected to attend, and most of the events are free.
Cover: Free