BOOKSMITH: Jez Burrows / Dictionary Stories

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - 7:30pm to 9:00pm

Booksmith hosts Jez Burrows in conversation with Robin Sloan to celebrate the launch of Burrows' Dictionary Stories, with musical accompaniment from Minna Choi of  Magik*Magik Orchestra. Please join us!


One day, while looking up a word in the New Oxford American Dictionary, Jez Burrows was stopped in his tracks by an example sentence: "He perched on the edge of the bed, a study in confusion and misery." It seemed like a tiny piece of fiction had gotten lost, wandered out of another book and settled down in the dictionary. With that spark, Dictionary Stories was born.


Genre-bending and wildly inventive, Dictionary Stories is a giddy celebration of the originality, flexibility, and beauty of narrative. Love stories, horror stories, noir mysteries, recipes, eulogies, confessions, thrillers -- each one a miniature literary remix of unlikely parts hidden in plain sight, created by flipping through the dictionary and knowing where to stop.


Burrows is a master of immersive, immediate narratives. Effortlessly transcending sentence level, he lights between the profound and the absurd with a few carefully assembled sentences, transporting readers into moments, worlds, and experiences of remarkable variety. From the everyday (dating, family, jealousy, memory) to the extraordinary (the apocalypse, fantasies, murder, the occult).


Organized alphabetically by theme and featuring original illustrations by the author, this continually surprising and wonderfully weird collection glows with humor, emotion, and intellect. Dictionary Stories will speak to language lovers, creative minds, and anyone who has ever appreciated the power of small things.



"Dictionary Stories brings to literature the spirit of the musical mashup, digging in the crates to find old hooks and arrange them into new delights with an appeal that's not merely academic but truly pop. This kind of work reminds us: it's all there, love and disappointment and deep humor, latent in our language and its storehouses; but it takes a keen eye to connect the dots. Jez Burrows is keen indeed." -- Robin SloanNew York Times bestselling author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore


"Dictionary Stories isn’t just a book for word nerds, but for anyone for whom language and story matter. Everybody will find themselves thoroughly in love with this book.” -- Kory Stamper, editor for Merriam-Webster, and author of Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries


“A brilliant literary remix.” -- Austin Kleon, New York Times bestselling author of Steal Like an Artist


“Brazenly fun. Like a cabaret for word lovers.”-- Sean Michaels, author of the Giller Prize-winning novel Us Conductors


Jez Burrows is a British designer, illustrator and writer. He lives in San Francisco. His author photo was taken by Daniel Agee.




Robin Sloan is the author of the New York Times bestselling novelMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, which has been translated into more than twenty languages. With his partner Kathryn Tomajan (TOM-uh-jun), Robin manages a leased three-acre grove of olive trees in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their first batch of extra virgin olive oil will be available in 2018. His second novel, Sourdough, however, is available now.





RSVP appreciated but not required.


If you cannot attend the event but would like to request a signed copy of any of the authors' books, order below and be sure to put your request in the special field. 

Dictionary Stories: Short Fictions and Other Findings By Jez Burrows Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062652614
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Harper Perennial - April 10th, 2018

Sourdough: A Novel By Robin Sloan Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374203108
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: MCD - September 5th, 2017

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel By Robin Sloan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250037756
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - September 24th, 2013