California Book Awards

91ST ANNUAL CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS WINNERS 

The jury of the California Book Awards has selected this year’s Gold and Silver Medal winners for its 2022 awards. One of the oldest and most distinguished literary award programs in the nation will be holding a virtual Awards ceremony on June 6, at 6 p.m. 

GOLD MEDALS

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

FIRST FICTION
Skinship, Yoon Choi, Alfred A. Knopf

NONFICTION­
Paradise: One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire, Lizzie Johnson, Crown

JUVENILE
Wishes, Mượn Thị Văn and Victo Ngai, Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc

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

POETRY
Refractive Africa, Will Alexander, New Directions

CALIFORNIANA
Everything Now: Lessons from the City-State of Los Angeles, Rosecrans Baldwin, MCD, an imprint of Farrer, Straus & Giroux

CONTRIBUTION TO PUBLISHING
A Rebel’s Outcry: Biography of Issei Civil Rights Leader Sei Fujii (1882-1954), Jeffrey Gee Chin & Fumiko Carole Fujita, Little Tokyo Historical Society

SILVER MEDALS

FICTION
The Committed, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Grove Atlantic

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

NONFICTION
Light on Fire: The Art and Life of Sam Francis, Gabrielle Selz, University of California Press

Since 1931, the California Book Awards have honored the exceptional literary merit of California writers and publishers. Eligible books must be written while the author is a resident in California and must be published during the year under consideration. Books published in 2022 may be submitted starting in August. 

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CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS JURY 

Rosalind Chang is a retired children’s librarian/branch manager from the Oak Grove School District in San Jose, the Sarah Dix Hamlin School in San Francisco, and the San Francisco Public Library. Chang has served on the Caldecott and Sibert award committees.

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.

Roy Eisenhardt is a lecturer at UC Berkeley and USF schools of law. He is a former attorney, president of the Oakland Athletics and executive director of the California Academy of Sciences.

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.

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.

Alden Mudge is a reviewer and editor from Berkeley, California. He’s past board chair of Bike East Bay, a bicycle advocacy organization.

Denise Newman’s fifth poetry collection, The Redesignation of Paradise, will be published in 2021 by Kelsey Street Press. Her most recent translation, When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back by the Danish writer Naja Marie Aidt, was a semifinalist for the National Book Award. She teaches at the California College of the Arts.

Suzanne Rivecca is the author of Death Is Not an Option (WW Norton, 2010), which won the Rome Prize in Literature and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Story Prize, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Award. She lives in Berkeley, California.

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.

Steven Boyd Saum is the editor of WorldView magazine. His work leading publications over the years has earned national awards for writing, design, and overall excellence. Editor of the collection Each a Mighty Voice: A Century of Speeches from The Commonwealth Club of California, his essays, fiction, and reviews have appeared in Orion, The Believer, Salon, The Kenyon Review, on KQED FM and elsewhere.

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: bookawards@commonwealthclub.org 

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.