Press Release

The Commonwealth Club of California

595 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94105

Contact: Riki Rafner, 415.597.6712 –




Finalists of the 83rd Annual California Book Awards Competition Announced

Awards Ceremony: Monday, June 9, 2013 at 6 p.m.



SAN FRANCISCO – (March 31, 2014) The Commonwealth Club has announced this year’s finalists for the California Book Awards.  Book lovers from around the state will gather on Monday, June 9, at 6pm at 595 Market Street, 2nd floor, in San Francisco to recognize the winners at a special program and reception.  For tickets, call (415) 597-6700


Dr. Gloria Duffy, the President and CEO of The Commonwealth Club said, “Each spring, with the announcement of the California Book Award winners, we are reminded of the impressive talent and imagination of the writers in this state.  We applaud the winners and the finalists for their wonderful books and we remain very grateful to the publishers who support their work.  We are particularly thankful to the exceptionally thoughtful and committed book jurors who volunteer their time to carefully read the hundreds of submissions we receive.”  

 “Every year the jury reads literally hundreds of books in four major categories,” explained Mary Ellen Hannibal, an author herself and Chair of the awards.  “In late March the specialized sections of the jury share finalists with the whole team, and then we all read all the selections in all the categories.  I read originally for nonfiction, and our finalists are so strong this year I have no idea how we are going to choose among them.  We have a startlingly fresh view of Jesus of Nazareth; a definitive biography of Woodrow Wilson; a deep and surprising portrait of nuclear arms; a personal and paradigm-shifting narrative about cancer; and a flip-your-assumptions profile of Haiti.  I now have equally challenging-to-choose among piles of fiction, poetry, juvenile, and young adult books to read, all written in this most productive of states, our own California.  Our literature clearly puts us on the map as much as any geographical feature of our topography or technology company does.  The soul of California is in these books – once again I’m struck with the generosity and hard work of writers who labor to bring us so many layers of meaning and pleasure.  Yes, we will settle on winners in a matter of weeks.  But the actual award begs the question.  The finalists make winners of us all – we get to read these books!"

The 83rd Annual California Book Awards ceremony will take place Monday, June 9, 2014 at 6 pm at the Commonwealth Club, 595 Market Street in San Francisco. The event is open to the public.

Awards Reception with light refreshments will begin at 5:00 p.m., followed by the Awards Ceremony at 6 p.m. 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 on the vanguard, honoring previously unknown authors who go 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, Kay Ryan, Bill 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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Daniel Alarcon: At Night We Walk in Circles, Riverhead Books

Eli Brown: Cinnamon and Gunpowder, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Karen Joy Fowler: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Putnam/Marian Wood

David Vann: Goat Mountain, HarperCollins



Andrew Lam: Birds of Paradise Lost, Red Hen Press

Anthony Marra: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Hogarth



Reza Aslan: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, Random House

A. Scott Berg: Wilson, Putnam

S Lochlann Jain: Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us, University of California Press

Eric Schlosser: Command And Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, Penguin Press

Amy Wilentz: Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti, Simon & Schuster



George Albon: Fire Break, Nightboat 

Victoria Chang: The Boss, McSweeney's 

Brenda Hillman: Seasonal Works With Letters On Fire, Wesleyan University Press

Alli Warren: Here Come The Warm Jets, City Lights Publishers

Allison Benis White: Small Porcelain Head, Four Way Books



Drew Daywalt: The Day The Crayons Quit, Philomel

Elisa Kleven: Glasswings: A Butterfly's Story, Dial Publishing Group (Penguin Book Group)

Marissa Moss: Barbed Wire Baseball, Harry N. Abrams

Annemarie O'Brien: Lara's Gift, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Lemony Snicket: The Dark, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers




Stephanie Kuehn: Charm & Strange, St. Martin's Griffin

Robin LaFevers: Dark Triumph, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers

Tom McNeal: Far Far Away, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books

Elizabeth Ross: Belle Epoque, Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Gene Luen Yang: Boxers & Saints (2 Volumes), First Second