Contact Information

<p style="font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(240, 240, 240);"><strong style="font-size: 12px;">Riki Rafner</strong><br />
Director of Media/Public Relations<br />
<a class="spamspan" href="; style="font-size: 12px; font-weight: bold;"></a><br />
(415) 597-6712</p>
<p style="font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(240, 240, 240);">The Commonwealth Club<br />
555 Post Street<br />
San Francisco, CA 94102</p>


A Manual for Cleaning Women and The Sympathizer

Lead California Book Awards Gold Medalists

Awards Ceremony: Monday June 13, 2016 at 6 p.m.

Sponsored by Bank of the West



Gold: Lucia Berlin, A Manual for Cleaning Women, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Silver: Ernest J. Finney, Elevation: 6,040, Texas Review Press

First Fiction

Gold: Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer, Grove Press


Gold: Jill Leovy, Ghettoside, Spiegel & Grau

Silver: Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes, Avery


Gold: Alex Gino, George, Scholastic

Young Adult

Gold: Neal Shusterman, Challenger Deep, Harper Teen

Silver: Andrew Smith, The Alex Crow, Dutton Books for Young Readers


Gold: Beth Murray, Cancer Angel, Belladonna* Collaborative


Gold: Tom Killion, California’s Wild Edge, Heyday

Contribution to Publishing

Gold: The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers, Edited by James Karman, Stanford University Press


SAN FRANCISCO – (May 11, 2016) The Commonwealth Club has announced the winners of the 85th annual California Book Awards.  Book lovers from around the state will gather on Monday, June 13, at 6 p.m. at 555 Post Street, San Francisco to recognize the winners at a special program and reception.  For tickets, call (415) 597-6700.  The Club indicated that a special announcement regarding endowment of the California Book Awards will be made at the June 13th ceremony.


“Literature probes and distills the meaning of life”, said Dr. Gloria Duffy, president and CEO of The Commonwealth Club.  “California writers have such a rich source of inspiration and deep reservoir of expression for their work.  The Club has been proud to recognize the best of California literature every year for 85 years.  This spring, we once again pay tribute to California’s best literary work.  Our thanks to the generous jurors, many of them authors themselves, who take the time to review hundreds of submissions each year.”

The awards chair, Mary Ellen Hannibal, added that “the jury and I are excited to announce this year’s  winners, an amazing diversity of voices sounding out the Zeitgeist.  Nearly the entirety of Lucia Berlin's creative work, the stories in her posthumous collection A Manual for Cleaning Women add up not to the sum of their parts but to a fully lived life — Berlin gets the gold.  Our nonfiction gold, Jill Leovy's Ghettoside, is the result of years of investigative reporting into a subject hardly registered even by the Los Angeles police department charged with bringing homicides to justice.  The other award winners are equally compelling, providing historical context, relentless questioning, and the salve of true art.

She added that the celebratory spirit of the awards ceremony will include a moment for remembering two vital members of the awards team who died this year.  Justin Chin was a long-time poetry juror, author of five volumes of poetry himself.  “Justin had an ability to quiet the rest of us, to bring our attention to deep tones in all categories of writing that we otherwise would have passed over.  His kind generosity is sorely missed,” said Hannibal. The ceremony will also acknowledge Martha Heasley Cox, an extraordinary benefactor of literature and creativity. Dr. Cox foundationally supported the California Book Awards, among other endowments all focused on encouraging and supporting new talent.  She was also a long-time fiction juror. “Martha was an unparalleled reader,” Hannibal commented. "We all strive to read as generously and as carefully as she did."

The 85th Annual California Book Awards ceremony will take place Monday, June 13, 2016 at 6 p.m. at The Commonwealth Club, 555 Post Street in San Francisco. The event is open to the public.  Book-signing will take place immediately after the ceremony. 


Since 1931, the California Book Awards have honored the exceptional literary merit of California writers and publishers. Each year a select jury considers hundreds of books from around the state in search of the very best in literary achievement.  Eligible books must be written while the author is a resident in California, and must be published during the year under consideration.


The California Book Awards have often been in the vanguard, honoring previously unknown authors who went on to garner national acclaim. John Steinbeck received three gold medals – for Tortilla Flat in 1935, In Dubious Battle in 1936 and The Grapes of Wrath in 1939.  Recent award winners include Adam Johnson, Jared Diamond, Karen Fowler, Kay Ryan, William Vollman, Joyce Maynard, Andrew Sean Greer, Yiyun Li, Adrienne Rich, Chalmers Johnson, Richard Rodriguez, Michael Chabon, Philip Levine, Rebecca Solnit, Galen Rowell, Jonathan Lethem, Peter Orner and Kevin Starr.


Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s oldest and largest public affairs forum, with more than 20,000 members. The Club hosts speeches, debates and discussions on topics of regional, national and international interest.

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Link to #CBA85 Awards Ceremony page here


Link to #CBA85 WINNERS video here


Link to #CBA85 Event page here