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THURSDAY

Fifth-grader Eliza Naumann, heroine of Myla Goldberg’s first novel, Bee Season, prepares to meet her destiny: “She has no reason to expect that the outcome of this, her first spelling bee, will differ from the outcome of any other school event seemingly designed to confirm, display or amplify her mediocrity.” To Eliza’s surprise—and to her teacher’s, her Jewish scholar father’s, her troubled mother’s, and that of the previous intellectual star of the household, her brother Aaron—she easily wins. The propeller of her linguistic gift takes Eliza to the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee; in its wake, it leaves the shreds of illusions that have obscured the true nature of her family. Hear Goldberg read from Bee Season and truly appreciate what’s at stake in the finals of this year’s national bee, held here in D.C. this very week, at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free. (202) 347-3686. (Janet Hopf)