Author Joan Didion. (Liz. Baylen, For The Times )
The bestselling author discusses and signs her new novel, "Lone Wolf." Told from multiple points of view, it's the story of grown siblings wrestling with the fate of their father, who is gravely ill. Picoult is known for writing popular fiction and for her outspoken support of women's fiction that focuses on families and relationships (just don't call it "chick lit"). Presented by Vroman's Bookstore.
Ramo Auditorium at Caltech, 332 S. Michigan Ave. Free. http://www.vromansbookstore.com
The novelist, essayist and critic reads from his omnibus collection of nonfiction, "The Ecstasy of Influence," at the Hammer Museum. It's circuitous, thoughtful, collage-like and untraditional; "I love this book," Los Angeles Times Book Critic David L. Ulin wrote in a 2011 review. Lethem is a MacArthur "genius" grant recipient who recently moved from New York to Southern California.
Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd, Free. hammer.ucla.edu
Jonathan Safran Foer with David L. Ulin
The author turns editor with "The New American Haggadah," out in plenty of time for Passover. Translated by Nathan Englander, "New American Haggadah" includes illustrations and commentary from some of today's most interesting and amusing Jewish American authors — including Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket. Expect a deep and entertaining discussion around this new edition of the classic Hebrew text. Presented by Writers Bloc.
Writers Guild Theater, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills. Tickets $20. writersblocpresents.com
Sarah Vowell with Jeff Garlin
With her distinctive voice, Vowell made the jump from the NPR radio show "This American Life" to Hollywood and the animated film "The Incredibles." She appears at Largo at the Coronet with Garlin, the comedian and producer who, when he's not on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," can be found hosting a book club at Book Soup. Vowell's latest book, a wry look at the history of Hawaii, is "Unfamiliar Fishes."
Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd. Tickets $30. http://www.largo-la.com.
The author of "Proust Was a Neuroscientist" turns his unique combination of cultural criticism and the science of the mind to creativity in the new book "Imagine: How Creativity Works" (March 20). He's in conversation with Michael W. Quick, professor of biology at USC, at the Central Library. Presented by the Library Foundation's ALOUD Series.
Central Library, 630 W. 5th St., downtown L.A. Free. http://www.lfla.org
Rachel Maddow with Bill Maher
Popular liberal television host Maddow comes to Los Angeles to discuss her new book, "Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power" (out March 27), which maintains America is weirdly at peace with being perpetually at war. She'll be in conversation with Maher, promising an electric political discussion and a lively take on the news of the day. Presented by Writers Bloc.
Saban Theater, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Tickets $42 (includes a signed copy of "Drift"). writersblocpresents.com
Joan Didion with Mona Simpson
The iconic chronicler of California beauty and dread returns to Los Angeles for the paperback release of "Blue Nights," a sequel to her National Book Award-winning memoir "The Year of Magical Thinking." In the latter, she wrote about coping with the death of her husband; in this, she writes of losing her daughter. In conversation with novelist Simpson, who recently lost her brother, Steve Jobs. At UCLA Live.
Royce Hall, 304 Royce Drive. Tickets $20-$60. http://www.uclalive.org/
Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and Festival of Books
On April 20, the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes will be awarded in a festive ceremony at USC. During the weekend, hundreds of authors gather at USC for the annual L.A. Times Festival of Books. There are readings, signings, children's events, panel discussions, booths, booksellers and more.
USC. The festival is free; tickets will be available for the prizes events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/
The perennial favorite returns to UCLA Live. Sedaris went from "This American Life" to bestseller lists to his wildly popular speaking tours. His most recent book is a collection of slightly wicked fables, "Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A modest bestiary."
Royce Hall, 304 Royce Drive. Tickets $25-$115. http://www.uclalive.org/
The author is a triple threat: He won the National Book Award for "The World According to Garp," an adapted screenplay Oscar for "The Cider House Rules," and is a perennial bestseller (plus he's been inducted into the wrestling hall of fame). His 13th novel, "In One Person," explores love and desire during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s; it hits shelves May 8. Presented by LiveTalksLA.
Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. Tickets $45-$95 (includes book and reception). livetalksla.org
Scott Turow with Carolyn Kellogg
The bestselling author of "Presumed Innocent" and other legal thrillers is also a lawyer. That's come in handy because Turow is the president of the Authors Guild, which has been making sure authors can flourish in a future increasingly dominated by e-books. In a breakfast business forum, with the Times' Carolyn Kellogg. Presented by LiveTalks LA.
City Club, 333 S. Grand Ave., downtown L.A. Tickets $20-$40. business.livetalksla.org