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Author Talk: Novelist Ron Nyren

Sunday, April 18, 2021, 3:00 p.m.

Ron Nyren will speak about his novel, The Book of Lost Light, in which a San Francisco photographer and his family move to Berkeley after the 1906 earthquake.

Ron Nyren’s The Book of Lost Light tells the story of Joseph Kylander, whose childhood in early 20th century San Francisco has been shaped by his widowed father’s obsessive photographic project and by his headstrong cousin Karelia’s fanciful storytelling and impulsive acts. The 1906 earthquake upends their eccentric routines, and they take refuge in the Berkeley Hills with a capricious patron and a group of artists looking to find meaning after the disaster. The novel explores family loyalty and betrayal, Finnish folklore, the nature of time and theater, and what it takes to recover from calamity and build a new life from the ashes.

Nyren will read from and talk about his new novel and discuss the inspirations he drew from his research into Berkeley's experience of the earthquake and fire; the artistic milieu of the time; pictorialist photographers and artists of Berkeley; and the enduring influence of Bernard Maybeck, Charles Keeler, and the Berkeley Hillside Club on local architecture. The talk will include images as well as a reading of some passages in the book, with time for questions and discussion.

Berkeley historian Charles Wollenberg will moderate the program.

In addition to having published many short stories as well as articles on architecture, urban design, and sustainability, Ron Nyren is co-author of Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers and teaches fiction writing through Stanford Continuing Studies. The Book of Lost Light was recently named the finalist for the 2020 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction.


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