BERKELEY -- A small Berkeley charter school has wrangled two large literary figures for a fundraiser Feb. 2.

REALM Charter School will host Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Junot Diaz and Michael Chabon, who will read from their work and lead a conversation about creativity, writing and education. (REALM stands for Revolutionary Education and Learning Movement.)

Diaz won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2008 novel, "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," and his short stories often appear in the The New Yorker and the yearly installments of the "Best American Short Stories."

Chabon won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2001 book, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay." He lives in Berkeley and recently published "Telegraph Avenue."

REALM Director Victor Diaz, no relation to Junot Diaz, said he knows both writers. He met Junot Diaz about 13 years ago when he was leading a writing workshop, and he knows Chabon through mutual friends at the Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse.

Diaz said the fundraiser, called "In Conversation," will be a first in the series of annual events hosted by the school to raise money and engage the community.

Diaz started REALM two years ago, with the mission of using "design thinking" and interactive technology to build a college-preparatory curriculum. He said it now has 400 students in 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th grades. Plans are to grow it to full middle and high schools.

The fundraiser will fill in gaps not provided by the state, Diaz said.


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"All public schools always need more money," Diaz said. "The state budget crisis is still not fully resolved. The money from the passage of Prop. 30 hasn't made it to the schools yet, and it won't make it until July."

The fundraiser for REALM starts at 6 p.m. in Berkeley High School's Little Theatre, 1980 Allston Way. Tickets are $40 for general admission. A $250 ticket gets you into a private reception afterward with the authors, priority seating and a copy of each author's latest book. For more information, go to www.realmcharterschool.org/inconversation/.

Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.