Naomi Benaron makes us sick. She's an author who's good at other stuff -- a geophysicist, seismologist, MIT and Scripps graduate, activist, and triathlete. If she didn't write absorbing fiction, she'd swill free drinks and tell stories all day, and that blows. Instead, Benaron won the 2010 Bellwether Prize, an award founded by author Barbara Kingsolver in 2000 for "serious literary fiction that addresses issues of social justice," for her debut novel, Running the Rift. Its hero, Rwandan Jean Patrick, has his hopes pinned on an Olympic medal in track. When civil war ignites, he pursues his dream and struggles to protect his loved ones when, for many of his neighbors, thinking of the future seems like a pointless farce.
Tue., Jan. 17, 7 p.m., 2012