The Commonwealth Blog

Mary Ellen Hannibal Heads up California Book Awards at The Commonwealth Club

Sep 23, 2010 @ 10:43 AM
The Commonwealth Club of California welcomes a new chair of its California Book Awards selection committee. Mary Ellen Hannibal is a longtime professional journalist and editor, having served as book reviews editor at Esquire and Signature magazines, authored three books, and more. She currently chairs the advocacy and communications efforts of the board for the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Her reviews can be found online at The Readers Review.

Hannibal succeeds Roy Eisenhardt, who headed the jury for a number of years. Eisenhardt has, in addition to serving as moderator for many Commonwealth Club events over the years, served as the president of the Oakland Athletics and executive director of the California Academy of Sciences.

Hannibal has served on the California Book Awards jury for the past five years, where she says she


has "repeatedly been moved both by the first-rate quality of California writers, and by the power of our award to help frame the importance of books in our culture."

The California Book Award winners for 2010's major categories, presented in June 2010,  included Rebecca Solnit, William Vollman, and Yi Yun Li, "by any measure among the most prominent writers in the United States today," says Hannibal. "While the subjects tackled by each of these authors are disparate, they share a deeply compassionate perspective on our world. Listening to their acceptance remarks, I wondered: Is the act of writing itself a moral act? Yes, we live in a digital age, but the power of thoughtful, reasoned, and beautifully written narratives remains a unique testament to human understanding. The California Book Award celebrates this endeavor. I'm very excited to continue working with an exemplary jury to uncover California's best books, and bring them to a wider audience."

Submissions are currently being accepted for next year's awards. Learn more.