For almost 10 years, the Hay-Adams author luncheons have been the most elegant literary events in Washington. From the glass-lined top floor of the Hay-Adams hotel, well-heeled readers have listened to world-famous writers while enjoying meals inspired by their books.
But now comes some serious competition from another storied hotel near the White House. Politics & Prose has announced a partnership with the Willard InterContinental to offer a new literary series that combines famous authors and sumptuous food, and the opening lineup should attract considerable interest.
Among the offerings: On May 18, mothers and daughters can enjoy tea in the Crystal Room with Cokie Roberts as she talks about “Founding Mothers,” her picture book on the female patriots of the American Revolution. (One signed copy of the book and a pair of tickets: $110.). This fall, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will talk about her memoir, “My Beloved World.” (One signed copy of the paperback and a ticket for lunch in the Willard Room: $90.)
The management of the Willard approached P&P owners Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine with the idea of a partnership, and Washington novelist Mary Kay Zuravleff (“Man Alive!”) designed the new author series for the bookstore. “The literary and historical pedigree of the Willard is astonishing, as is the architecture,” Zuravleff said.
Indeed, the 150-year-old hotel has hosted such luminaries as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson and Mark Twain — a friend of Henry Adams, whose house used to sit where the Hay-Adams hotel is now.
The Willard-P&P literary series begins Sunday, May 3, with an afternoon tea hosted by Linda Przybyszewski talking about her book “The Lost Art of Dress.” (Each $75 ticket includes tea, treats and a signed copy of the book.)
For readers who crave a little more testosterone in their books, David Baldacci will host a luncheon June 7 to talk about his new military thriller, “The Target,” which publishes Tuesday. (A ticket for lunch and one signed copy of the book: $85.)While the Hay-Adams author luncheons are held on weekdays, these new Willard events are scheduled for weekends, which may draw a different clientele.
For reservations to any of these events, contact Politics & Prose at 202-364-1919.
Those clever folks at McSweeney’s have turned to crime. Latin American crime, that is. The 46th issue of the quarterly journal, just hitting bookstores, is a hardcover book containing 13 stories from 10 countries. The contributors range from Carol Bensimon (Brazil) to Alejandro Zambra (Chile), with plenty of blood and mischief in between.
As patrons of the super-hip know, every issue of Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern — founded by Dave Eggers in 1998 — boasts its own unique physical design. Jordan Bass, editor of the San Francisco-based quarterly, says: “Playing around with the form, thinking about how we can stretch our sense of what a book can be, has always been a big part of the journal. Sometimes it’s a bundle of junk mail (No. 17), sometimes it’s a double-spined book (No. 24), and sometimes it’s a full-on Sunday newspaper (No. 33).”
For this issue, the “crime-novel-inspired hardcover design” reflects the 13 dastardly tales inside — most written specifically for this issue, and all published here for the first time.
Issue No. 46 also contains some typically McSweeney-esque letters to the editor. Daniel Alarcón writes about the Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona, who became his first hero. Francisco Goldman complains about the “mean-spirited capriciousness” of U.S. immigration agents.
As usual, you never know what you’ll find in these pages.
You can buy this issue for $26 or subscribe to McSweeney’s for $55 a year.