California Book Awards


Books authored by residents of California and published during the 2023 calendar year may be submitted between August 15, 2023 and November 15, 2023 for consideration for the California Book Awards.

Please use the following submission form: 2023 Submissions

After completing the form, please ship 6 copies of each submitted book to the address below:


The Commonwealth Club
Attn: California Book Awards
110 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105


The Commonwealth Club
Attn: California Book Awards
115 Steuart St
San Francisco, CA 94105


Books in the categories of Fiction, First Work of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Juvenile (to age 12), Young Adult, Californiana, and Contribution to Publishing

Work must have been written by authors living in California at the time their work was published or submitted for publication.

To be eligible for Californiana, the work must deal with a California-based issue, topic, or historical period.

To be eligible for Contribution to Publishing, the publisher must be a California resident.

To be eligible for Juvenile, the writer AND illustrator (if applicable) must be California residents.

To be eligible for First Work of Fiction, the work must be the author’s first fictional effort. Previously published short story collections will disqualify an author from the First Work of Fiction category; however, the author can still submit for the Fiction category.

Short story collections and essays by the same author will be accepted for consideration under the Fiction category.

If certain stories in the short story or essay collection have been published previously, the work may still be submitted for consideration. Eligibility is at the discretion of the jury.


Self-published works

Works from a publishing house that does not have some sort of vetting process


Guidebooks or manuals

“As told to” books

Anthologies from multiple authors

Works by dual authors, unless both authors are California residents

Translations of deceased authors or older works

Reprints of books published in previous years

Please direct any questions regarding the Book Awards to:

Click to learn more about the awards 



Chris Chen is assistant professor of literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Chen has published poetry, essays, interviews and reviews in boundary 2, the South Atlantic Quarterly, Crayon, 1913: A Journal of Forms, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is completing a book-length comparative study of contemporary African American and Asian American experimental poetry.

Peter Fish is a San Francisco-based writer, editor and teacher. For many years travel editor of Sunset magazine, he now writes regularly for the San Francisco Chronicle, Via, Coastal Living and other publications. In fall of 2018 he was Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University; he currently teaches travel and nature writing for Stanford Continuing Studies. His fiction has appeared most recently in The Sewanee Review.

Kelly Loy Gilbert is the author of Conviction, a finalist for the Morris Award; Picture Us in the Light, a California Book Award winner and Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist; and, most recently, When We Were Infinite. She writes and occasionally teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Gravity Goldberg is the director of public programs and visitor experience at The Contemporary Jewish Museum. She sits on the advisory board for the Litquake Literary Festival, and is the co-founder of Instant City: A Literary Exploration of San Francisco. She lives in San Francisco with her brilliant husband and fluff ball of a cat.

Mary Ellen Hannibal is a journalist and author, most recently of Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction. It received a Nautilus Book Award and was named one of the best books of 2016 by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Gordon Jack is the author of two young adult novels, The Boomerang Effect (HarperTeen, 2016) and Your Own Worst Enemy (HarperTeen, 2018). When he’s not writing books, he’s recommending them as librarian at Los Altos High School, where he’s worked since 1995.

Scott James is an Emmy-winning veteran journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times. His most recent book is Trial by Fire: A Devastating Tragedy, 100 Lives Lost, and a 15-Year Search for Truth, which reopened the investigation into one of America’s deadliest criminal cases. Trial by Fire won the 2021 top prize for nonfiction from the New England Society Book Awards, plus was the subject of an episode of the CBS News program “48 Hours.” James is also the author of the two bestselling novels SoMa and The Sower, both written under the pen name Kemble Scott.

Evan Karp is the founding director of Quiet Lightning and events manager for Booksmith and Berkeley Arts & Letters. He’s written literary columns for the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, SF Weekly, SF/Arts and The Rumpus, and his nonfiction and poetry have appeared widely in print and online. Evan has released three albums combining music, words and other sounds, two with his brother Miles as Turk & Divis and one with Maw Shein Win as Vata & the Vine.

Nathalie Khankan is the author of Quiet Orient Riot, published by Omnidawn in 2020, recipient of the 2021 California Book Award in Poetry. She was the founding director of the Danish House in Palestine and now teaches Arabic language and literature at UC Berkeley.

Maya Makker (she/her) grew up in the Central Valley and studied at UC Davis. She has worked as an educator in art, history, and science museums, and is passionate about telling diverse stories in our cultural institutions. Her love of books and collaborating with youth led her to 826 Valencia, where she now works as the communications manager.

Madison McCartha is a poet, critic, and multimedia artist whose debut book of poetry and visual art, Freakophone World, was published by Inside the Castle in 2021. Their second book, The Cryptodrone Sequence, is forthcoming from Black Ocean. McCartha holds an MFA from the University of Notre Dame, and is a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. McCartha's writing can be found in Black Warrior Review, Bomb, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, The Spectacle, and elsewhere.

Sarah Rosenthal is the author of Estelle Meaning Star (Chax, forthcoming); The Grass Is Greener When the Sun Is Yellow (Operating System, 2019, a collaboration with Valerie Witte); Lizard (Chax, 2016); and Manhatten (Spuyten Duyvil, 2009), as well as numerous chapbooks. She edited A Community Writing Itself: Conversations with Vanguard Writers of the Bay Area (Dalkey Archive, 2010). Her film We Agree on the Sun has received screenings and awards from numerous film festivals, including Best Experimental Short at the 2021 Berlin Independent Film Festival.

Scott Saul is a historian and critic who has written for The New York Times, Harper's, The Nation, and other publications. He is the author of Becoming Richard Pryor (2014), longlisted for the PEN Biography Prize, and Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties (2003), which received the American Book Award. He teaches courses in American literature and history at UC-Berkeley, where he is a professor of English. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and son.

Julia Flynn Siler is the author of two New York Times bestselling works of nonfiction, The House of Mondavi and Lost Kingdom. She is a former staff writer and longtime contributor to The Wall Street Journal, and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Oxford Dictionary of Food and Wine, and other publications. She received a 2016–2017 National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar award to support her new book, The White Devil’s Daughter’s: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown (Alfred A. Knopf, 2019).

Lauren Silver is the vice president for education at The Commonwealth Club. She has taught in museums, pre-K–12 classrooms, and universities, and she holds a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from UC Berkeley, where her research focused on young children’s development of art and narrative.

Mary Taugher’s fiction has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Narrative magazine, Potomac Review, Edge, and other literary journals. She has worked as a journalist in Ohio and Southern California, and as a writer and editor for public relations, political consulting and fundraising firms. A graduate from San Francisco State University’s M.F.A. Creative Writing Program, she lives in San Francisco where she is working on a collection of short stories.

Please direct any questions regarding the Book Awards to: 

Click to learn more about the awards.

The California Book Awards for Youth

Since 2020, The Commonwealth Club has partnered with the National Writing Project to bring the California Book Awards to youth. Each year, students are invited to read the finalists in the Juvenile and Young Adult Literature categories and publish their responses to a set of writing prompts online. Working with schools, libraries and other educational settings, the project supports young people’s literacy development by providing a safe and age-appropriate space for reading, writing, sharing and media creation.