Sun April 1

Emerald City Comicon

In just 10 years, Emerald City Comicon has grown from an underwhelming collection of retailers and a few local comic book professionals into the biggest comic book convention in the Pacific Northwest. Sunday, the last day of the convention, is a great time to get some serious bargains; most vendors are willing to haggle rather than cart all those heavy books and comics back home. This is the beginning of the High Holy Days of Seattle's nerd calendar, culminating with next week's Norwescon. (Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place, www.emeraldcity comicon.com, 10 am–5 pm, $20–$45)

Wed April 4

Jonathan Haidt

In his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, Jonathan Haidt, a professor of social psychology, argues that morality "closes hearts and minds to opponents even as it makes cooperation and decency possible within groups." Why does the quest for goodness turn some of us into such huge assholes? Is there a point at which morality stops being evolutionarily useful? Is there any way to reconcile your own morality with that of others? Haidt will answer all of your questions on the topic in his appearance at Town Hall, after which a blissful calm will settle over you after all these years of existential doubt. (Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5)

Heidi Julavits

Heidi Julavits's debut novel, The Mineral Palace, was as raw and tender a depiction of sorrow as you've ever read, and her next two books, The Effect of Living Backwards and The Uses of Enchantment, were both Nabokovian identity-twisters. While Julavits's newest novel, The Vanishers, continues to explore the idea of grief, the book looks to be enough of a departure from her usual formula—it's about a pair of dueling psychics, for one thing—that readers familiar with her intricate language and intense style of magical realism should already be licking their lips with anticipation. (University Book Store, 7 pm, free)

April 5–8

Norwescon 35

Seattle is the nerdiest city in the United States, and Norwescon is the sci-fi convention that helped put us on the nerd map. Every year, the biggest names in science fiction gather at the aseptic but aesthetically neutral DoubleTree hotel by SeaTac airport to attend panels, get their books signed, and dance the night away at any number of the sexy sci-fi themed afterparties. In addition to all the festivities, costumes, and paraphernalia, Norwescon is host to the annual Philip K. Dick Award, which is consistently the most interesting sci-fi-themed book award in the business. If you've ever loved a sci-fi book, movie, or TV show, chances are you'll find something to love in SeaTac this weekend. (DoubleTree, 18740 International Blvd, www.norwescon.org, 9 am, $30–$70)

Wed April 11

Sister Spit Poetry Slam with Michelle Tea and Dorothy Allison

The original queer-tastic spoken word performance group Sister Spit comes to town for National Poetry Month with a few new names, a multimedia performance, and a living legend or two. It wouldn't really be Sister Spit without its ringmaster, the beloved Michelle Tea, who chose some big new names on the scene to accompany her on the road: "Mr. Transman 2010" Kit Yan, playwright Erin Markey, and Brontez Purnell. And the special guest is Dorothy Allison, whose brave and furious semiautobiographical novel Bastard Out of Carolina ought to be required reading for every high school graduate in the United States. (Hugo House, 8 pm, $20)

Sat April 14

Rachel Maddow

If you're not nursing an enormous honking crush on Rachel Maddow, you're doing life wrong. Maddow is the rarest of cable news hosts; she's smart, funny, and genuinely concerned with the truth. If the doubters need further proof that she's a real intellectual force, her new book, Drift, isn't some huge-font reprinting of Rachel Maddow Show content. It's an examination of how the American military has basically detached itself from the government, making it too easy for the United States to declare perpetual war. It's refreshing to see someone making a case against the military-industrial complex (known in polite company as "Halliburton") in such clear, concise prose. (Town Hall, 4 pm, $5)

Tues April 17

A Tribute to Anthony Shadid

Anthony Shadid was one of the special ones: A brave journalist who used beautiful language to tell the truth about the conflicts that shape the Middle East. When the news of his death broke in February, many who knew him—including some of us here at The Stranger—were crushed by the loss. We are fortunate, at least, that Shadid left a memoir behind. House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East isn't some kind of rush-job, or piecemeal document assembled from notes and fragments. The book, which documents the reconstruction of Shadid's home and the story of his Lebanese American family, was already scheduled to be published this spring. It's one last gorgeous firework of a book from a writer who died way too young. (Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5)

Wed April 25

Etgar Keret

Young Israeli writer/filmmaker Etgar Keret has been boldly assaulting the idea of what makes a short story work. His short fiction is surreal, but he's not a surrealist. The stories are full of fantastic elements, but he's not a sci-fi writer. He writes about love, but he's not a romantic. Often, Keret's brief, absurd stories—start with his collection The Nimrod Flipout if you're looking for a way into Keret's head—will end with something like a punch line, a twist from nowhere that completely changes the meaning of the cartoonish reality he has painted for us. That quick little bit of turbulence is a great metaphor for the way Keret has changed the rules of fiction; it's easy to imagine a realistic naturalist like Raymond Carver bloodying his own forehead in frustration when confronted with one of Keret's books. He's at the forefront of a generational shift, and it looks to be a beautiful one. (Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $15)

Fri April 27

Seattle Poetry Slam: The 2012 Grand Slam

What better way to celebrate the close of National Poetry Month than a competition that pits poet against poet in a high-stakes game of literary Mortal Kombat? The Grand Slam is the culmination of a season's worth of Seattle's spoken-word competition, meaning that the winner at this thing will be crowned the King or Queen of Seattle Poetry for the next year. The change of venue, from the boozy cafes they usually perform in to the churchlike Town Hall, seems to raise the stakes for the performers. They're not just in a down-and-dirty competition where a well-timed fart joke can win the day: This is time for them to bring out their serious Rocky shit, the real hard stuff. (Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $15)

Sun April 29

David Sedaris

Exactly once a year—like Santa or the Easter Bunny or some other mythical creature—David Sedaris visits Seattle and sprinkles us with laughter and joy. Like Christmas, it's an event that's eagerly anticipated by children of all ages. Like Easter, it features a sacred, age-old ceremony—Sedaris shares three or four longer pieces, mixed with shorter one-liners culled from recent journal entries, and then audience questions. Last Sedarismas was the best year ever. When the audience finally stopped laughing and started up their phones again, they learned that while Sedaris was entertaining the pants off of them, Osama bin Laden had been killed. Brave and mighty is our giver of laughter! May he proffer such blessings upon us again this year! (Benaroya Hall, 7 pm, $38–$47)

Wed May 2

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Let's play Two Truths and a Lie about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

1. The 34-year-old author was born in Nigeria to Nigeria's first-ever professor of statistics and the first-ever female registrar at the University of Nigeria.

2. Her books Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and The Thing Around Your Neck have won awards, been best sellers, and charmed the pants off of critics in the United States and Nigeria.

3. She once punched out James Frey in a bar fight, and kept his $700 Berluti loafers as a trophy. They remain on her mantel to this day.

The correct answer is number 3... or is it? (Benaroya Hall, 7:30 pm, $15–$50)

Fri May 4

Corey Marks

Marks has been published in virtually any poetry magazine you can name. Here, from the Threepenny Review, is the beginning of his poem "Dumb Luck": "The horse—its number smudged/by sweat and thumbs nuzzling/predictable exactas/stamped in black—stumbles/at the last, run too hard, run/beyond what her ankles could bear..." Under the wild hoofbeats, you can practically hear the terrible fall that is to come. His work is full of gorgeous, terrifying little details. Unfortunately, detail poets—unlike big-idea poets, who write like they suffer from pen-diarrhea—are slow to produce sizable new chunks of work. Marks will be in town in support of his new collection, The Radio Tree, which is his first book in over a decade. (Open Books, 7:30 pm, free)

Fri May 11

Alison Bechdel

The problem with true comic book greatness is that it takes a long time. Not only do artists have to write a whole brilliant book, they have to draw it, ink it, and letter it too. So in case you need a refresher, Alison Bechdel's memoir Fun Home was the kind of comic book that changes lives—the portrait of Bechdel's deeply closeted father was so tender, and so unforgiving, that many readers came away from the book with Bechdel's thoughtful, literate, distinctive voice echoing around in their heads like a favorite song. Her long-awaited second memoir, Are You My Mother?, is a portrait of Bechdel's mother, who, when Bechdel was 7, decided without any warning to never touch her daughter ever again. (And, yes, the title is a reference to the adorable children's book.) (University Book Store, 7 pm, free)

Sat May 12

Melissa Dickey and Zach Savich

UW graduate Melissa Dickey is the author of the poetry collection The Lily Will, which includes a poem about a three-inch baby born to a woman who "put it in a dark cloth contraption/so it would feel more comfortable./Then she shook it around." Zach Savich, also a UW grad, is the author of the very good poetry collection Full Catastrophe Living. Hopefully his new one, The Firestorm, will continue with Savich's trend of highly intelligent poems shot through with the occasional terrific bit of earthy surprise, as with a reference to the "innards" of bread bowls at a chowderhouse at which Savich worked. (Open Books, 7:30 pm, free)

Tues May 15

Matthew Dickman and Michael Dickman

A lazy blurb writer would be sure to lead with the fact that Matthew and Michael Dickman are identical twin poets. It's a tiny touch of the freak show, and just enough to catch a prurient eye. We're better than that here. Aren't we? Oh, what the hell: Matthew and Michael Dickman are identical twin poets. It's not like they're hiding their family ties, though their poetry is anything but identical. Matthew's poems are more traditional in style than Michael's, which sometimes look like jagged tears across the page. The brothers often travel in a pack of two. They want you to remember that they're two different people, even as some part of your dumb lizard brain can't stop noticing that they look exactly alike. (Benaroya Hall, 7:30 pm, $20–$35)

Thurs May 17

Jim Lynch

Olympia author Jim Lynch is best known for his debut novel, The Highest Tide, which had to do with a lonesome young boy who finds a giant squid, causing a media firestorm. His newest novel, Truth Like the Sun, is set in the Seattle of two very different eras—as we sat on the cusp of an enormous boom in 2001 and during the World's Fair in 1962, when the world first took notice of us. It's a book that reportedly doesn't shy away from politics, and no less a critic than Jonathan freakin' Raban has raved about it. That's enough to get us very excited. (Eagle Harbor Book Co., 7:30 pm, free)

John Irving

It is absolutely true that John Irving's last few novels have been awful. The Fourth Hand was basically a pitch to George Clooney to star in the film version, and Until I Find You was a paean to Irving's penis in novel form. In One Person's big hook is that its main character is bisexual, which is not promising—in interviews, Irving sounds smug to have discovered this lost demographic—but you don't go to see John Irving read because you're hopeful for his new work. You go to see John Irving read because A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Hotel New Hampshire and The World According to Garp are still three of your favorite novels of all time, and you have to go pay your goddamned respect. (Town Hall, 7 pm, $TBD)

Thurs May 24

Greg Rucka

Portland author Rucka is that rare talent who is equally gifted when it comes to writing novels and comic books. His Atticus Kodiak series of thrillers are well-loved by fans of mysteries, and his comics (especially the spy thriller series Queen & Country and the Portland-based mystery series Stumptown) are practically hailed as classics as soon as they're published. His newest novel, Alpha, is about a hostage expert who steps in when a dirty bomb is hidden inside the world's largest theme park. (Seattle Mystery Bookshop, noon, free)

Paul Krugman

How often do you get a chance to see a real, live Nobel Prize–winner in the flesh for a measly five damn dollars? (Granted, it's just a Nobel Prize for economics, but still...) Paul Krugman, who has been praised by virtually everyone with a pulse for his books The Great American Unraveling and The Conscience of a Liberal, will offer a lecture titled "An Economist's Take on 2012." Will the good guys win in the November election? Krugman might have the answers you seek. (Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5)

Sun May 27

Meredith Cole

The poet is the author of a collection titled Miniatures. If you were to scour the internet for information about Miniatures, you would not discover very much information. A mystery! (Open Books, 3 pm, free)

Fri June 1

David Westin

Westin, a former president of ABC News, will read from his book Exit Interview, which is jam-packed full of his impressions about the television journalism industry. Are TV news anchors really filthy sex perverts when the cameras are off? Find out tonight! (Note: You probably won't find out tonight.) (Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5)

Dana Levin

Published by great Port Townsend poetry press Copper Canyon last year, Sky Burial is a poetry collection about Aztec sacrifices and Tibetan sky burial. Which is to say, it's obsessed with death, but in the best way possible. (Open Books, 7:30 pm, free)

Sat June 9

Jeanne Matthews

Bone Reapers is a mystery about a vault at the Arctic Circle where samples of seeds are kept in case of atomic war or a global-scale apocalypse. A private investigator gets involved, somehow. (Seattle Mystery Bookshop, noon, free)

Mon June 11

Christopher Buckley

Buckley is known and loved for his political satires—he wrote Thank You for Smoking, which was better than the pretty-damn-good movie adaptation. His newest is They Eat Puppies, Don't They?, a novel about a lobbyist who starts a rumor that the Dalai Lama has been targeted for assassination in order to sell a fancy new weapons system to the US government. Hilarity ensues, but probably not as much hilarity as in Buckley's earlier novels. (Town Hall Seattle, 7:30 pm, $5)

Gail Collins

The New York Times columnist—who is way better than New York Times columnist David Brooks, which is unfortunately faint praise—reads from her new nonfiction book, As Texas Goes... How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda. (Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5)

Tues June 19

Andrew Blum

Remember when that old fuddy-duddy Senator Ted Stevens called the internet "a series of tubes"? Journalist Andrew Blum argues that he wasn't entirely wrong in Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, which explores the physical structure of the internet. This looks fascinating (especially if you're a terrorist). (Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5)

Thurs June 21

Sharma Shields

Spokane author Sharma Shields's new short story collection, Favorite Monster, is packed with cyclopses and werewolves and the occasional serial killer or two. But before that turns you off, you should consider the names at the bottom of the glowing blurbs on the back of the book: J. Robert Lennon and Stewart O'Nan. Suck on that, lit-snob. (University Book Store, 7 pm, free)

Mon June 25

Alafair Burke

The up-and-coming young mystery novelist, who was a deputy district attorney in Portland, is known for her sharp, strong female characters. At press time, not much information was available about Never Tell. (Seattle Mystery Bookshop, noon, free)

Tues June 26

Hiromi Goto

Hiromi Goto represents the kind of wild productivity that you don't see in modern authors. Rather than churning out one book every five years, she's written award-winning young adult novels (and not just any crappy award; The Kappa Child won the very interesting James Tiptree, Jr. Award), a collection of short stories, and a long poem. She's also reportedly working on a comic book. Goto writes vividly of the mixture of cultures and the exploration of heritage, while still throwing in heaps of Neil Gaiman–style horror at every opportunity. Catch her on the way up, because you're going to be paying a lot more the next time she's in town. (University Book Store, 7 pm, free)