Sarah Waters's success would have been unimaginable 20 years ago. She writes about lesbian characters and themes, but she's not just "a gay writer." Instead, her novels—like the Dickensian thriller Fingersmith and the Victorian romance Tipping the Velvet—are widely celebrated for their atmospheric, ornate imagery and compelling plots. And they're about unabashedly gay characters. To see her books becoming best sellers is to celebrate the destruction of the "gay fiction" ghetto that used to menace bookstores back in the day. Tonight she reads from The Little Stranger, a ghost story. (University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE, 634-3400. 7 pm, free.)

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