The Smart Set is a weekly feature, compiled by Lauren Cerand, that appears Mondays and highlights the best of the week to come. Special favor is given to New York’s independent booksellers and venues, and low-cost and free events. Please submit details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TUESDAY, 4.19: PEN World Voices: the New York Festival of International Literature devotes Tuesday’s programming to “Africa and the World: The Writer’s Role,” with various events around town throughout the day. Check site for details.
WEDNESDAY, 4.20: Jordan Davis hosts the Million Poems Show, “An Eclectic and Monthly Fun Live Audience Show Featuring Award-Winning Poets and Singer-Songwriters,” features award-winning poet Terrance Hayes and singer Falu, who has collaborated with Karsh Kale, participated in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project and was a guest performer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Richard Gere and Philip Glass at the Healing The Divide benefit concert. Featuring singer-songwriter J.J. Appleton, who lists Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, Ric Okasek and Fela Kuti as his influences, as co-host. At the Bowery Poetry Club. 6:30pm, FREE.
THURSDAY, 4.21: Mitch Cullin and the oh-so-no-po-mo Mary Gaitskill discuss their work at Housing Works on Thursday evening (thanks to Coates Bateman for the tip). 7:00pm; FREE, but donated books are welcomed and encouraged. Elsewhere, Anouar Benmalek, author of The Lovers of Algeria, translated from the French by Joanna Kilmartin and winner of the French Rachid Prize, gives a reading at 192 Books. 7:00pm; FREE, but reservations are requested: 212.255.4022.
FRIDAY, 4.22: Because Southern girls do it better: As noted by the queen bee herself, this Friday, Georgia native Tayari Jones – winner of the Hurston/Wright Award for Debut Fiction for Leaving Atlanta – reads from her new novel, The Untelling, with Texas-born, Florida-raised New Yorker Maud Newton, who reads from her novel-in-progress about fundamentalist Christians in 1980’s Miami and how extremism can pass from one generation to the next. At Bluestockings. 7:00pm, FREE. [full disclosure, as always: I put together this event, and I’m working with Tayari to promote her book this spring.]
SATURDAY, 4.23: “Focusing on the phenomenally influential subcultures of otaku (roughly translated as ‘pop cult fanaticism’) and its relationships to Japan’s artistic vanguard, Takashi Murakami explores the historical influences that shape Japanese contemporary art and its distinct graphic idioms. The exhibition’s title, Little Boy, refers to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, clearly locating the birth of these new cultural forms in the trauma and generational aftershock.” Little Boy, at the Japan Society. Saturday hours: 11:00am-5:00pm, $12.
SUNDAY, 4.24: Katherine Lanpher, co-host of Air America’s “Al Franken Show”, tapes a pilot of a new arts and culture program for the network on Sunday evening. Called “Liberal Arts”, the evening that will be taped for the first episode features musician Steve Earle discussing his plays and reading from his story collection, Doghouse Roses, and a performance by musician Allison Moorer, whose songs have been described by Rolling Stone as, “like a Southern accent: eight miles an hour, deliberate and very dangerous to underestimate.” At Housing Works. 8:30pm; FREE, but donated books are welcomed and encouraged. [full disclosure: Katherine’s a good friend of mine, and my services have been retained to aid in publicizing this event.]