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The Reading Life: Robert Olen Butler

Susan Larson talks with Robert Olen Butler, whose new novel is “Late City.”

Here’s what’s on tap in the literary life this week
In New Orleans:

And just a reminder: with evolving COVID restrictions, best to check with venues before attending in-person events, and be sure to mask up.

Laura Murphy discusses her new book “Freedomville: The Story of a 21st Century Slave Revolt,” Friday, September 17 at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books.

The Octavia Books Book Club discusses “Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel, Saturday, September 18, at 10:30 a.m. at Octavia Books.

The Dickens Fellowship of New Orleans will begin its reading of "Barnaby Rudge," by Charles Dickens, chapters 1-12, Saturday, September 18, at 2 p.m. For more information, email

The Jefferson Parish Library presents three local children’s authors – Abigail Isaacoff, , author of “Que Vola, Nola?” (What’s Up, Nola?), Kat Pigott, author of “Rougarou Stew,” and Leslie Staub, author of “If You Were an Elephant." They will discuss their new books at noon., Monday, Sept. 20, via video conference online. Visit for more details.

Robert Olen Butler discusses “Late City,” Thursday, September 23⋅at 6 p.m. in a virtual presentation from Octavia Books. Go to for info.

Coming up: Jefferson Parish Library presents Judy Cooper discussing “Dancing in the Streets: Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs of New Orleans,” Monday, September 27, at 6 p.m. via video conference online. Visit for more details.

Rick Bragg talks about his new memoir, “The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People,” Thursday, September 30 at 6 p.m. at Garden District Book Shop. Go to for info.

The latest change due to COVID-era restrictions comes with the New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University, which has rescheduled from October to March 10-12, 2022.

The Louisiana Book Festival will offer virtual events this year.

New Orleans Public Library locations opened Monday, September 13, after Hurricane Ida. Due to facilities maintenance, Alvar Library will only be open for contactless pick-up & drop-off on Mondays - Thursdays from 10am - 6pm and Fridays & Saturdays from 10am - 5p.m. The Mid-City and Nix Libraries are temporarily closed.

Jefferson Parish Public Library is also open now, with the Grand Isle and Lafitte branches closed.

The Reading Life in 2010, Susan Larson was the book editor for The New Orleans Times-Picayune from 1988-2009. She has served on the boards of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and the New Orleans Public Library. She is the founder of the New Orleans chapter of the Women's National Book Association, which presents the annual Diana Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction.. In 2007, she received the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the literary community. She is also the author of The Booklover's Guide to New Orleans. If you run into her in a local bookstore or library, she'll be happy to suggest something you should read. She thinks New Orleans is the best literary town in the world, and she reads about a book a day.