Premier Events presented by Peninsula Arts & Letters

Credit: Melanie Abrams


Premier Event: Vikram Chandra

Friday, October 3, 7:30 p.m.

Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty

Tickets are available at Kepler's and online at Brown Paper Tickets.


"Computing has transformed all our lives, but the processes and culture which produce software remain largely opaque, alien, unknown...Whenever I tell one of my fellow authors that I supported myself through the writing of my first novel by working as a programmer and a computer consultant, I evoke a response that mixes bemusement, bafflement, and a touch of awe, as if I'd just said that I could levitate...Many programmers, on the other hand, regard themselves as artists."

We’re thrilled to see Vikram Chandra’s Geek Sublime getting so much positive news coverage from The New York Times Sunday Book Review, The Guardian, the San Francisco Chronicle, and more!! This book truly has something for everyone: it offers a textured history of the tech industry both in the United States and India tracing the evolution of modern programming and corresponding social and cultural politics. He ponders many questions including: How do we approach computer code as an aesthetic object? What makes beautiful code? How is code similar to poetry? What ideological work is performed by the tech industry? How did programming become gendered male in the U.S.? And his prose, stunning and accessible!!!

Vikram Chandra is the author of three works of fiction, most recently Sacred Games, which won the Hutch Crossword Award for English Fiction for 2006 and a Salon Book Award for 2007; it was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, was included on numerous “Best of the Year” lists and received lavish critical acclaim. He is the co-writer of the well-known film "Mission Kashmir", and the New Yorker named him one of "India's leading novelists." His novels have been translated into nineteen languages. Vikram worked with John Barth at Johns Hopkins and with Donald Barthelme at the University of Houston. Chandra currently divides his time between Mumbai and Berkeley, California, where he teaches creative writing at the University of California. 

Nick Taylor is the author of the historical novels The Disagreement and Father Junípero's Confessor. He has also published a thriller, The Setup Man, under the pseudonym T.T. Monday.

Here are some great reviews of Geek Sublime as well as an interview with Vikram Chandra! 


Geeks will love Vikram Chandra’s new book 'Geek Sublime’




Premier Event: Rick Riordan

Wednesday, October 15, 7:00 p.m.

Heroes of Olympus: Book 5 - The Blood of Olympus

Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway St., Redwood City 




GREAT NEWS! Rick Riordan is returning to the Bay Area to talk about The Blood of Olympus, the finale in his Heroes of Olympus series.  We are SOOOO excited. 

Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen-all of them-and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood-the blood of Olympus-in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it might be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

PLEASE NOTE: Mr. Riordan will only be speaking and answering patrons’ questions during the event, therefore no signing line will be held. Pre-signed copies of the HEROES OF OLYMPUS series, and the PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS series, and the KANE CHRONICLES series, will be available for purchase at the Fox Theatre the evening of the event.  



Premier Event: Leon Panetta in conversation with Jim Newton

Friday, October 17, 7:30 p.m.

Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace

Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway St., Redwood City 


Tickets are available at Kepler's and online at the Fox Theatre.

New student-priced ticket now available!

We are so honored to bring Leon Panetta to the Peninsula to celebrate his 50 years of public service, and the publication of his forthcoming autobiography, Worthy Fights.

With the current state of politics in Washington DC and turmoil in many parts of the world, now is the perfect time to hear from former White House Chief of Staff, former Director of the CIA and former Secretary of Defense, and the man who has been called, “the consummate straight shooter.”

Like his career, Worthy Fights is a reflection of Panetta’s values. It is imbued with the frank, grounded, and often quite funny spirit of a man who never lost touch with where he came from: his family’s walnut farm in Carmel Valley, where as a boy, he worked alongside his father and brother. With typical candor and humor, he recalls that his father often told him that he was well trained for a career in Washington as he'd been "dodging nuts" since childhood.

A young Panetta was appointed the Director of the Office of Civil Rights in 1969 where he was responsible for enforcing equal education laws during a tumultuous time in American education. He went on to represent Monterey county in Congress for 16 years, followed by positions as Budget Director and White House Chief of Staff under President Clinton, bringing a focus on policy and stability to the White House . In 2009, coming out of "retirement" Panetta accepted what many said was a thankless task, returning to public office as the Director of the CIA during a time of turmoil, then serving as Secretary of Defense, inheriting two troubled wars in a time of austerity and painful choices.

Leon Panetta served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2009–2011, and as secretary of defense from 2011–2013. An Italian American Democrat, he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977–1993, the director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1993–1994, and President Clinton’s chief of staff from 1994–1997. He is the founder of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, and has served as professor of public policy at his alma mater, Santa Clara University.

Jim Newton is editor at large of the Los Angeles Times, where he has worked for twenty-five years as a reporter, editor, bureau chief, and columnist. He is the author of two critically acclaimed biographies, Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made and Eisenhower: The White House Years.

Credit: Nina Subin


Premier Event: Bryan Stevenson

Thursday, November 6, 7:30 p.m.

Just Mercy

Tickets are available at Kepler's and online at Brown Paper Tickets


Peninsula Arts & Letters is very excited to host Bryan Stevenson, winner of the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant, who has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color.

Just Mercy is a true account of an idealistic young lawyer's coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justicefrom one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

A 1985 graduate of Harvard, with both a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a J.D. from the School of Law, Bryan Stevenson joined the clinical faculty at New York University School of Law in 1998.

Stevenson has been representing capital defendants and death row prisoners in the deep south since 1985 when he was a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. Since 1989, he has been Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a private, nonprofit law organization he founded that focuses on social justice and human rights in the context of criminal justice reform in the United States.

Click HERE to listen to his TED talks.





Premier Event: Francis Fukuyama

Tuesday, November 11, 7:30 p.m.

Political Order and Political Decay

Tickets are available at Kepler's and online at Brown Paper Tickets

Fukuyama's Political Order and Political Decay follows the story from the French Revolution to the so-called Arab Spring and the deep dysfunctions of contemporary American politics. He examines the effects of corruption on governance, and why some societies have been successful at rooting it out. He explores the different legacies of colonialism in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and offers a clear-eyed account of why some regions have thrived and developed more quickly than others. And he boldly reckons with the future of democracy in the face of a rising global middle class and entrenched political paralysis in the West.

Francis Fukuyama is the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He has previously taught at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and at the George Mason University School of Public Policy. Fukuyama was a researcher at the RAND Corporation and served as the deputy director for the State Department’s policy planning staff. He is the author of The Origins of Political Order, The End of History and the Last Man, Trust, and America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy

The Wall Street Journal's David Gress called Francis Fukuyama’s Origins of Political Order (considered the partner book to Political Order and Political Decay) “magisterial in its learning and admirably immodest in its ambition.”




Premier Event: Tim Shriver

Wednesday, December 3, 7:30 p.m.

Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most

Tickets are available at Kepler's and online at Brown Paper Tickets

Remember when you believed you could actually change the world? Perhaps you imagined, as Timothy Shriver did, that the world could be changed “into a place of love and mystery and eternity.” The son of Eunice Kennedy and Sargent Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, and nephew of John, Robert and Ted Kennedy, Timothy was born to families who have spent their lives advocating for people on the margins, inspired largely by Tim’s aunt Rosemary who was born with intellectual disabilities. Join us for an evening with Tim as he reveals how his meetings with world icons and cultural leaders such as Nelson Mandela, and through his own work with the Special Olympics, he changed his life from one focused on power, to a life of humility and vulnerability.

Tim Shriver’s new book, Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most, is at once a memoir and a roadmap for a life that is radically different and inspiring. This new life is inspired by the time he has dedicated to people with intellectual disabilities as chairman of the Special Olympics and co-founder of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading research organization in the United States in the field of social and emotional learning. Is disability to be feared or welcomed, pitied or purged? Shriver argues that we all have different abilities and challenges we should embrace. Here we see how those who appear powerless have turned this seeming shortcoming into a power of their own, and we learn that we are all totally vulnerable and valuable at the same time. 

Support the Special Olympics by buying a Premier Ticket; Tim is donating all of his proceeds from the book to the organization.