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For Books' Sake

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With a switch in locations, the Sonoma County Book Festival takes on a new look. Unlike previous years, when downtown Santa Rosa closed its streets to become a playground for roaming book lovers, the 2013 festival takes place this week in front of Doyle Library on the Santa Rosa Junior College campus.

Dorothy Allison, the Guerneville-based author of cult literary classic Bastard Out of Carolina, headlines the main stage. She'll be preceded by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni, and Anthony Marra, a Stegner fellow at Stanford University, whose novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena has brought well-deserved attention to a rising literary talent.

This year's panels include "Women in Suspense," "Sonoma County's Best Read," "Morning Food Romp" with Michele Anna Jordan, and Marcy Smothers, out promoting her latest book Snacks: Adventures in Food, Aisle by Aisle. Long-forgotten stories about Sonoma County's past are resurrected in the panel "Biting Off Chunks of Local History," featuring historian and Press Democrat columnist Gaye LeBaron alongside Arthur Dawson, Marty Griffin and Bohemian editor Gabe Meline.

"The Immigrant Experience" finds panelists Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, Aimee Phan and Emilio Gonzalez (pictured) bringing a needed touch of diversity to the day with a discussion on how being a visitor in a foreign land shapes one's character. A young adult panel, teen poetry slam, children's program and various exhibitors round out the event. The Sonoma County Book Festival happens on Saturday, Sept. 21, on the Santa Rosa Junior College campus. 1501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 10am-4pm. Free. www.socobookfest.org.

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