New Magazine and Website ‘The Journal of Alta California’ to Sponsor Key Sessions at ‘Bay Area Book Festival’

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Partnership with Book Festival Highlights Alta’s Literary Ambitions

Bay Area Book Festival

The Journal of Alta California Stage

“The time is right for a smart, in-depth magazine with a Western perspective,” said Will Hearst, whose family has had a legendary place in California journalism for more than 130 years.

A new magazine and website being launched by William R. Hearst III will sponsor more than half of the headlining literary sessions at the Bay Area Book Festival, June 3-4, 2017, in downtown Berkeley. The Alta Stage, at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage, will feature speakers such as Roxane Gay, Michael Chabon, Paul Hawken, Scott Turow, Masha Gessen, Micah White, Becky Bond, T.J. Stiles and many others.

Hearst’s new magazine, The Journal of Alta California, (Alta), is scheduled to launch as a quarterly in the fall. Alta will provide a fresh, smart take on the issues, culture, personalities, politics, lifestyle and history of California, featuring some of the state’s best writers, photographers and illustrators. The magazine’s website,, will be a daily guide to the best writing about the state from Alta and other sources. Alta also will sponsor a series of events bringing together the best thinkers on California and current affairs.

“The time is right for a smart, in-depth magazine with a Western perspective,” said Will Hearst, whose family has had a legendary place in California journalism for more than 130 years. “Alta’s partnership with the Bay Area Book Festival matches up well with Alta’s plans to provide literate, interesting coverage of the Golden State, from San Diego and Los Angeles in the Southland to San Francisco and the rugged redwood forests of the northern part of the state. We’re excited to be able to sponsor some of Festival’s highlight sessions.”

​The Bay Area Book Festival returns for its third year in downtown Berkeley, CA, over the weekend of June 3 and 4, ​ with a focus on “literary activism.” The two-day indoor/outdoor Festival will welcome more than 200 local, national, and international authors and speakers in more than 100 panels, interviews, keynotes and performances in auditoriums and theaters throughout downtown Berkeley, and will emphasize writers and books that promote social justice, sanctuary, inclusion, freedom of expression, and environmental sustainability. Organizers expect 50,000 attendees.

The Alta Stage sessions will span many genres and themes, such as current events, poetry, children’s literature, politics, thrillers, sci-fi & fantasy, and more.

Scheduled Alta Stage Highlights will include:

  • Roxane Gay in conversation with Rafia Zakaria — What makes a person “difficult”? Fiction writer, essayist and activist Roxane Gay has been called “the brilliant girl-next-door: your best friend and your sharpest critic” by People magazine. She has authored the stunning novel An Untamed State, the powerhouse essay collection Bad Feminist, and now a new collection of stories, Difficult Women, where she casts her incisive gaze at issues of race, class and gender.
  • Activism at a Crossroads — Activism is undergoing a re-evaluation. Is protest still effective? What can work today? Micah White (co-creator of Occupy Wall Street and author of The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution, and named by Esquire as one of the most influential young thinkers alive today), and Becky Bond (former senior advisor to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and co-author of Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything) will offer guidance and action for a new era of social change and activism. Mother Jones’ Monika Bauerlein moderates.
  • Radical Hope: Staying Sane, Awake, and Engaged in Dangerous Times — This special Saturday night event will bring together 10 acclaimed authors to explore the concept of “radical hope,” the title of a new anthology conceived by Oakland writer Carolina De Robertis shortly after the Presidential election. She asked award-winning novelists, poets, political thinkers, and activists to create love letters in response to our times. With Jeff Chang, Aya de Leon, Parnaz Foroutan, Karen Joy Fowler, Francisco Goldman, Katie Kitamura, Cherrie Moraga, Achy Obejas, and Meredith Russo.
  • Paul Hawken’s Drawdown: Real Solutions for Climate Change — Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming shows a realistic path forward that can roll back global warming within 30 years. Activist and renowned entrepreneur Paul Hawken gathered researchers from around the world to identify, investigate, and model the 100 most substantive existing solutions to climate change. Come learn how humanity has the means at hand to address this potentially devastating threat to our civilization.
  • Masha Gessen on Truth, Lies and Totalitarianism in Russia and the U.S. — The relationship between Russia and the West is obviously complicated. Are we headed toward a new Cold War? Join Russian-American and celebrated journalist Masha Gessen (The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia) and Orville Schell (former professor and Dean at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and author of Wealth and Power) for insight into the state of the powers that pose the greatest challenges to the liberal democracies of the world. Will Hearst will make the introductions.
  • Center for Investigative Reporting and Reveal News Live: Reporting, Writing and Being Between the Lines, with Vanessa Hua, Krys Lee, and Guadalupe Nettel — Borders have become central to today’s political and cultural landscape. In this special edition of “Reveal Live,” host Al Letson will take the audience through a journey that crosses many borders—physical and figurative, national and cultural, fictive and factual. Joining us are three writers: Lee from Korea, Nettel from Mexico, and Hua from the Chinese immigrant community in San Francisco. Where nationalism and nativism takes root, how can writers and journalists help people find common ground? How do they immerse audiences in perspectives that can change the status quo?
  • Tor Books presents Science Fiction and the Resistance! – Join Charlie Jane Anders, Cory Doctorow (editor/founder of Boing Boing), Annalee Newitz (culture editor of Ars Technica) and John Scalzi as they kick ass, take names and decide who goes down first, and hardest, in an epic discussion about new directions in science fiction and fantasy. Interesting to note is one of those directions is the technological advances coming out of Silicon Valley.

** See the full Festival schedule and lineup here.


Based in San Francisco and founded by William R. Hearst III, Alta is a celebration and examination of all things about California and its environs: the lifestyle, the history, the people, the environment, the arts, the culture, the politics. Trends start in California; Alta identifies those trends and brings them to light and into focus. Drawing on inspiration from magazines such as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Spy, Alta will be smart, witty, literary, informative and newsy. Above all, Alta treasures great journalism, great storytelling and beautiful images. Alta is a multimedia entity: a quarterly magazine, a daily website and social media, and a regular series of events featuring talks by interesting people. Alta will partner with the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Bay Area Book Festival, SFFILM, the California Academy of Science, the Long Now Foundation, and others.

The Bay Area Book Festival is the main project of the Foundation for the Future of Literature and Literacy, a nonprofit charity with federal 501(c)(3) designation, created to produce the Festival. For more information about the Festival, visit or Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The Festival’s hashtag is #baybookfest.

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