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Journalist Okey Ndibe Promotes Latest Book; William J. Mann Talks About The Roosevelts

Special To The Courant

Author, editor and journalist Okey Ndibe will give a free talk about his latest book, "Never Look an American in the Eye: A Memoir of Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, and the Making of a Nigerian American" (Soho Press, $25), on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 1:30 p.m., at the West Hartford Public Library, 20 S. Main St. Ndibe also will sign copies at 2:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Blue Back Square, 60 Isham Road, West Hartford.

The book chronicles his personal and professional life in Nigeria and America. He also is the author of "Foreign Gods, Inc." (Soho Press, $25), a novel about an immigrant cab driver in New York City who tries to get rich by stealing and selling an idol from his home village in Nigeria.

The library will validate parking in the Isham Road garage. Registration: bit.ly/dec4okey or 860-561-6990.

Jewish Book Festival

The Mandell Jewish Community Center, 335 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford, continues its annual Jewish Book Festival with a talk by Ronald H. Balson, author of "Karolina's Twins" (St. Martin's Press, $25.99), on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m.

This novel, Balson's third in a series about a husband-and-wife team of investigators who work on Holocaust cases, was inspired by a true story. It is about a survivor's determination to return to Poland to find two lost sisters and fulfill a promise. Secrets are revealed and love and resilience are explored. Balson, a trial attorney in Chicago, also is the author of the international bestseller, "Once We Were Brothers," and "Saving Sophie." Tickets are $20: 860-231-6316.

Religion And Irreligion

The Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford, will continue its free series of "Trouble Begins at 5:30" talks on Thursday, Dec. 8, following a 5 p.m. reception, with a discussion of "Mark Twain: Religion and Irreligion," presented with the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, Hartford.

Twain had controversial and changing religious beliefs, ranging from atheism to agnosticism to Christianity to criticism of religion. Three speakers will explore his views and aspects of religion and irreligion in 19th century America.

Kerry Driscoll, professor of English at the University of St Joseph, will discuss "Mark Twain and Native American Spirituality." Andrew Walsh, managing editor of Religion in the News and associate director of the Greenberg Center, will discuss "Religion in Mark Twain's Hartford." Journalist and author Steve Courtney, whose books on Twain include "Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life and Times of Mark Twain's Closest Friend," a winner of the Connecticut Book Award, will discuss "The Friendship Between the Rev. Joseph Twichell and Mark Twain."

Mark Silk, a journalist, founding director of Greenberg Center and a professor at Trinity College, will chair the panel discussion. Reservations: 860-247-0998 and marktwainhouse.org.

Huddle At Westminster

Novelist and poet David Huddle will give a reading at Westminster School, 995 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury, on Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m.. for the Friday Nights in Gund series. Students Cooper Bellet and Annie Hicks also will read.

Huddle's fiction, poetry and essays have been published in Esquire, The New Yorker, Poetry, Harper's and other journals. His novel "My Immaculate Assassin" (Tupelo Press, $16.95) is among his latest books, along with the poetry collection "Dream Sender"(Southern Messenger Poets, $17.95) 860-408-3000 and westminster-school.org.

Authors At R.J. Julia

Two provocative books — a new history of the Roosevelt family and a challenge to the value of empathy — will be the subjects of free discussions presented by R.J. Julia Booksellers, 768 Boston Post Road, Madison. Reservations are required: 203-245-3959 and rjjulia.com.

William J. Mann will talk about his latest biography, "The Wars of the Roosevelts: The Ruthless Rise of America's Greatest Political Family" (Harper, $35) on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. His revisionist account of this influential and powerful American family that produced two presidents reveals family secrets and rivalries, based on hidden documents and interviews with the "illegitimate" branch of the family.

Yale University psychology professor and Guilford resident Paul Bloom, whose award-winning research and teaching explores how people understand the world, focusing on morality, religion, fiction and art, will discuss his nonfiction book, "Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion" (Ecco Press, $26.99) on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. In it, he makes the case that empathy paradoxically can increase inequality and immorality in society.

The bookstore also will host a Books on the Menu: Holiday Edition event on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at noon.

Tickets are $15 and include lunch from the RJ Café and a talk by the store's General Manager Lori Fazio and Book Buyer Andrew Brennan about books for Fall. Reservations: 203-245-3959.

Paul Yoon At Trinity

The free Smith Reading Series, which presents programs in the Admissions Grand Room on the Trinity College campus, 300 Summit St., Hartford, will host author Paul Yoon on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 4:30 p.m.

Yoon's story collection, "Once the Shore" (Sarabande, $15.95), was named a New York Times Notable Book and a Best Debut of the Year by National Public Radio; and his "Snow Hunters" (Simon & Schuster, $22) won the Young Lions Fiction Award. 860-297-2036.

The Author's Table

Hartford Public Library, 500 Main St., Hartford, will continue its Author's Table presentations by local authors on Thursday, Dec. 8, from 5 to 7 p.m.

James Herbert Smith will discuss his fourth book, a memoir about growing up in the post-war baby boom. "A Boy's Life in the Baby Boom, True Tales from Small Town America," (Elm Grove Press, $19.95) is set in Pittsford, N.Y., where Smith was born and raised.

Smith is the retired executive editor of The Bristol Press and The New Britain Herald. 860-695-6300.

Riverwood Poetry Series

Riverwood Poetry Series continues its free programs on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m., with a reading by and conversation with Connecticut poet Joan Kantor, whose latest book is "Holding It Together: Mental Illness from the Personal to Public" (WovenWord Press, $16) at Universalist Church of West Hartford 433 Fern St., West Hartford. The book is based on Kantor's own experiences with clinical depression and anxiety. She is a member of The International Academy for Poetry Therapy and leads expressive writing sessions.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and an open-mike session will begin at 7 p.m. Poems on mental health are encouraged, but not required. riverwoodpoetry.org.

Meet Author Geoffrey Craig

Simsbury Public Library, 725 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury, will host a Meet the Author event on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 2 p.m. with Geoffrey Craig, of Bloomfield, whose book is "Scudder's Gorge (Prolific Press, $16.95), a family saga about war and racism and the struggle for dignity for all people from 18th century Vermont to Hiroshima. Registration: 860-658-7663 or simsburylibrary.info.

Mystery Book Discussion

Carole Shmurak, of Farmington, who writes the Susan Lombardi mystery novels, will lead a free discussion on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 3 p.m., on "Dear Departed" by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles at Wallingford Public Library, 200 N Main St., Wallingford. The discussion is for the Wallingford Mystery Group: An Inspector Calls Series, Part 4. 203-265-6754.

Delicious Discussions Luncheon

Otis Library in Norwich and Bank Square Books of Mystic will host a Delicious Discussions Luncheon on Wednesday, Dec. 7, from noon to 1:30 p.m. with Sharon Livingston, author of "Get Lost Girlfriend: How I Found Myself When My Best Friend Dumped Me" (Pay Tech Inc., $11.95). It will take place at Michael Jordan's Steak House, Mohegan Sun Casino, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville.

In her book, Livingston, a psychologist, tells of being betrayed and rejected by her best friend and tells how she overcame the sorrow and anger. The cost is $40 and includes Livingston's talk, a copy of the book, and a buffet lunch. Tickets: 860-889-2365 ext. 127.

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