"What Can Novels Do?" A Conversation with Ursula K. Le Guin

When: Tue., Feb. 26, 7 p.m. 2013

Among a certain swath of Seventies- and Eighties-born sci-fi and fantasy nerds of the kind that used to read during recess and may or may not have owned T-shirts with airbrushed dragons on them (hey, no judgment!), the name Ursula K. Le Guin establishes the sort of wide-eyed, bone-deep nostalgic reverence that J.K. Rowling never could. And for good reason -- the hugely prolific, Berkeley-born 83-year-old novelist and children's book author has now introduced two full generations of readers to a type of fantasy and futurism that's not only compelling as hell, but emotionally resonant and politically conscious: She's influenced writers including Salman Rushdie and Neil Gaiman and won just about every fantasy- and futurism-writing prize possible, but she's been equally lauded for her exploration of complex social issues and her commitment to using characters of varying colors, genders, and sexual orientations -- a commitment that's alarmingly rare in these genres, and incredibly important in children's literature. On Tuesday, Feb. 26, Le Guin will speak about her life and work in conversation with Michael Lucey of the UC Berkeley comparative literature and French departments in a public lecture at the Sibley Auditorium in the Bechtel Engineering Center (UC Berkeley campus). The talk is titled "What Can Novels Do?" but in LeGuin's hands, maybe the better question would be, "What can't they do?" Bring your dragon shirt. 7 p.m., free, but tickets are required and will be available starting at 6 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. TownsendCenter.Berkeley.edu

Ellen Cushing

Price: free

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