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John Zipperer, VP of Media & Editorial


Finalists for the 91st Annual California Book Awards Competition Announced

SAN FRANCISCO – (March 10, 2022) Celebrating its 91st birthday, The Commonwealth Club of California’s California Book Awards has selected this year’s finalists for its 2022 awards. One of the oldest and most distinguished literary award programs in the nation has chosen 25 outstanding books in six categories, out of hundreds of titles submitted. From these finalists the book award jury will choose Gold and Silver Medal award winners to be announced in May.

“The California Book Awards has been honoring California books and authors for more than nine decades,” commented Award Jury Chair Peter Fish. “Especially in a year when so much of the news has been ominous, the California Book Awards shines a welcome light on the passion and creativity and brilliance that is California literature.”  

The finalists, he notes, “demonstrate the extraordinary diversity of California literature.” Fiction nominees include an epic narrative of early 20th century aviation and 21st century Hollywood. Among the First Fiction nominees is an exuberant, poignant exploration of Cambodian American life. Nonfiction contenders include a harrowing account of a cataclysmic California wildfire, and a groundbreaking biography of a major American artist. Among the Young Adult finalists is a powerful narrative of Islamophobia in post 9/11 America and a magical realist tale of sexual trauma and healing.

The California Book Awards jury is made up of published authors, award-winning editors, highly experienced librarians and professors who spend six months reading books submitted by publishers—large and small—from all over the nation. “We read, deeply, an enormous number of books,” Fish said, “many of them very, very good. Out of these we choose the very best titles for our finalists, and from those we choose the Gold and Silver medal winners we will announce later this spring.”


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 Rachel Kushner, Susan Orlean, David Treuer, Morgan Parker and Steph Cha.

 About The Commonwealth Club

Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s oldest and largest public affairs forum. The Club hosts speeches, debates and discussions on topics of regional, national and international interest. Its radio program—the nation's oldest continuing radio show—airs on about 230 stations nationwide, and its podcasts and videos reach millions people each year. More info at



The Archer, Shruti Swamy, Algonquin Books, an imprint of Workman Publishing, Hachette Book Group

The Committed, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Grove Atlantic

Crossroads, Jonathan Franzen, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Great Circle, Maggie Shipstead, Alfred A. Knopf

Afterparties, Anthony Veasna So, Ecco

City of a Thousand Gates, Rebecca Sacks, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Skinship, Yoon Choi, Alfred A. Knopf

Her Honor, LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, Celadon Books

Life as We Made It, Beth Shapiro, Basic Books

Light on Fire, Gabrielle Selz, University of California Press

Midnight in Washington, Adam Schiff, Random HouseParadise, Lizzie Johnson, Crown

Blood on the Fog, Tongo Eisen-Martin, City Lights

Permanent Volta, Rosie Stockton, Nightboat Books

Refractive Africa, Will Alexander, New Directions

Yellow Rain, Mai Der Vang, Graywolf Press

Black Birds in the Sky, Brandy Colbert, Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Home Is Not a Country, Safia Elhillo, Make Me a World

Instructions for Dancing, Nicola Yoon, Random House Children's Books, Delacorte Press

Mirror Season, Anna-Marie McLemore, Feiwel & Friends

The Genius Under the Table, Eugene Yelchin, Candlewick Press

Kaleidoscope, Brian Selznick, Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Legacy, Nikki Grimes, Bloomsbury

The Legend of Antie Po, Shing Yin Khor, Kokila

Wishes, Mượn Thị Văn, Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.