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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane reporters’ bylines return with books during NW Passages summer events

Spokane is a such a fertile writing ground. And summer is always more fun with a book to read. So Northwest Passages would like to suggest a few from former journalists in the Pacific Northwest, as well as an advocate for Ukrainian culture here in Spokane.

From Ukraine to Spokane

Eli Francovich was dispatched as correspondent to cover the war in Ukraine for The Spokesman-Review. With approximately 30,000 Ukrainian refugees calling Spokane home, what happens in Ukraine has a little more impact in the Pacific Northwest. Francovich will talk about his experience, as well as show some of his behind the scenes photographs to the Northwest Passages audience at 7 p.m. on June 21 at the Montvale Event Center, 1019 W. First Ave., in Spokane. General admission tickets are available for $7 at

Before Francovich talks, Spokane-based Ukrainian publisher Lost Horse Press will introduce poetry from some of Ukraine’s premier poets.

According to Publishers’ Weekly, wartime conditions have affected half of Ukraine’s publishers: “The majority of publishers, 51%, continue to publish but have altered their operating models, taking such measures as reducing their working hours.”

Another 39% of publishers had not changed their models when the survey was taken by Ukrainian trade publication Chytomo from March 26 to April 8.

Christine Lysnewwycz Holbert has continued to keep Ukrainian culture alive with Lost Horse, which publishes a series in dual language editions.

Natalka Bilotserkivets’ “Eccentric Days of Hope & Sorry” translated by Ali Kinsella and Dzvinia Orlowsky has been short listed for the Griffin Prize for Poetry. Holbert will open the evening with a poem and talk specifically about the challenges artists, authors and poets have during the Ukrainian war.

Jess Walter

Northwest Passages is proud to partner with Auntie’s Bookstore to assist with the June 28 launch of Jess Walter’s collection of short stories, “The Angel of Rome and Other Stories.”

The event is at 7 p.m. , June 28 at The Bing, 901 W. Sprague Ave.

Two of the stories originally appeared in The Spokesman-Review’s short story series, Summer Stories. The VIP reception is sold out, general admission tickets are still available for $7. Auntie’s Bookstore will be at the Bing selling copies of Walter’s book, as well as that of his conversation partner, Spokesman-Review columnist, Shawn Vestal.

Leah Sottile

Leah Sottile’s byline is familiar to Spokane readers. Sottile is an award-winning journalist influenced by mentors Bill Morlin and aforementioned Jess Walter and his coverage of Ruby Ridge. She takes the Montvale stage at 7 p.m. , July 6.

To say that “religious extremism” is her beat wouldn’t be far off. Her book, “When the Moon Turns to Blood” (release date June 21) hits local with the Rexburg, Idaho, case of former beauty queen Lori Vallow and her husband, grave digger turned doomsday novelist, Chad Daybell. Sottile will be joined in conversation on stage with Spokesman-Review crime/city reporter Emma Epperly.

Putsata Reang

Putsata Reang emigrated from Cambodia as an infant in her mother’s arms. Her mother fought off the boat captain’s efforts to toss her child overboard, and that connection began their intricate relationship. Reang was raised in rural Oregon and spent time writing for The Spokesman-Review before the New York Times, Politico and The Seattle Times and the San Jose Mercury News. Her memoir, “Ma and Me” explores the legacy of trauma and cultural identity, and how Reang navigated her complicated upbringing. NAACP President and Spokesman-Review columnist Kiantha Duncan will discus the book and the associated issues with feeling “other.”

She is set to talk about her book at 7 p.m. , July 27 at The Montvale Event Center.

Jim DeFede

“The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland” by Jim DeFede chronicled the real-life events of grounded airlines from all over the world arriving in Gander after 9/11. Best of Broadway is featuring the play, “Come From Away,” in the days that follow. What better way to get familiar with the play than read a book? The play is inspired by the real-life events and people DeFede spoke with to write his book. Jim DeFede, who wrote for The Spokesman-Review, will be in conversation with his former colleague, Jess Walter. The event is at 7 p.m. , Aug. 8 at The Bing.

Proceeds from Northwest Passages events go directly to fund local journalism and support the reporters at The Spokesman-Review.