Literary events are in full bloom on Long Island this spring.
Word Up: Long Island LitFest will celebrate its fourth year at a new venue, the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington. The event on Sunday, April 29, features two reading sessions with a hefty roster of writers, including Meg Wolitzer, Alan Zweibel, Steve Israel and Alyson Richman, all of whom have Long Island connections.
Wolitzer, who grew up in Syosset, headlines the festival’s first reading session at 11 a.m. She is on tour for her new novel, “The Female Persuasion,” currently No. 6 on The New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list. It follows a college student whose life shifts course when she’s taken under the wing of a prominent figure in the women’s movement. Wolitzer dedicated the book to many women, including her mother, novelist Hilma Wolitzer.
“My mother was someone who started writing and publishing novels on the late side; I know that she received the support and encouragement of other women writers, which made a real difference,” Wolitzer explained by email. “I took note of this when I was young, and it mattered to me then, and it still does.”
Copies of “The Female Persuasion” can be purchased in the Sky Room, where Wolitzer will be signing along with authors Annabelle Gurwitch, Susan Rieger and David Denby at noon.
Wolitzer is one of a few fiction writers at this year’s event. “Our first festival was all nonfiction,” says organizer Claudia Gryvatz Copquin. “Then we realized there are a lot of book lovers out there who don’t want to see just nonfiction. We’ve opened it up to both nonfiction and fiction, and that seems to be working pretty well.”
The day kicks off at 10 a.m. with two writing workshops that are free to ticket holders. “Storytelling Improv” is taught by Tracey Segarra, winner of several Moth StorySLAMs and host of “Now You’re Talking!” events on Long Island. The second workshop, “How to Publish a Children’s Book and a Nonfiction Book” is taught by Adelphi professor and former Newsday parenting columnist Liza Burby and Rudy Shur, author of “How to Publish Your Nonfiction Book.”
“We try to make the workshops interactive,” says Copquin. “Segarra will lead a little game with the audience members so they can think of something they will want to perform in public.” Copquin recommends that guests purchase tickets and register for workshops in advance.
The 1 p.m. reading session features Alan Zweibel, an Emmy Award-winning former writer for “Saturday Night Live” who is returning for the fourth year. Other readers are Sag Harbor historian Tom Clavin (“Dodge City”), Huntington novelist Alyson Richman (“The Velvet Hours”) and former Long Island Congressman Steve Israel, whose new novel, “Big Guns,” a satire about the gun control debate, has just been published.