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Winners of 86th Annual California Book Awards Competition Announced

Awards Ceremony: Monday June 12, 2017 at 6 p.m.
and The Other Slavery
Lead California Book Awards Gold Medalists



Gold: Michael Chabon, Moonglow, Harper

Silver: Elizabeth McKenzie, The Portable Veblen, Penguin Books

First Fiction

Gold: Melissa Yancy, Dog Years, University of Pittsburgh Press


Gold: Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Silver: Jordan Fisher Smith, Engineering Eden, Crown


 Gold: Anne Nesbet, Cloud and Wallfish, Candlewick Press

Young Adult

Gold: Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also A Star, Delacorte Press


Gold: Aja Couchois Duncan, Restless Continent, Litmus Press

Silver: Douglas Kearney, Buck Studies, Fence Books


Gold: Benjamin Madley, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873, Yale University Press


Contribution to Publishing

Gold: Harold Mooney and Erika Zavaleta, Ecosystems of California, University of California Press


SAN FRANCISCO – (May 9, 2017) The Commonwealth Club has announced the winners of the 86th annual California Book Awards.  Book lovers from around the state will gather on Monday, June 12, 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

"This year's book awards recognize familiar, beloved authors like Michael Chabon as well as relative newcomers like Elizabeth McKenzie," commented the awards jury chair, Mary Ellen Hannibal, citing the winners of this year's gold and silver medals in Fiction.  "We are also thrilled to introduce the new conceptual approach of poet Aja Couchois Duncan to a broader audience," she remarked.  "We highlight groundbreaking scholarship from historians Benjamin Madley (Californiana) and Andrés Reséndez (Nonfiction).  Jordan Fisher Smith (Nonfiction) finds a great environmental story, and — no joke — you are going to want to investigate the monumental achievement of Harold Mooney and Erika Zavaleta, who re-create the textbook (Contribution to Publishing). 

This year’s award ceremony on June 12 will include a special tribute to Kenneth Starr, a giant of California letters who died this past January.  Starr’s eight-volume history of the state, collectively known as “Americans and the California Dream,” lays out an epic story we are still unfolding today.  State Librarian of California for 10 years, Starr’s inclusive and democratic approach remains a beacon among today’s shadows.

The 86th Annual California Book Awards ceremony will take place Monday, June 12, 2017 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 Vollmann, 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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Watch this video about 86th Annual CBA FINALISTS

Learn more about Commonwealth Club California Book Awards Winners

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