California Book Awards

Finalist for books published during the 2021 calendar year will be announced March 2022. 

We will be honoring Gold and Silver Medal award winners on June 6, 2022. 

Please direct any questions regarding the Book Awards to:

Click to learn more about the awards.


• 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 or 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
• E-books
• 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


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.

Aja Couchois Duncan is a social justice coach and capacity builder of Ojibwe, French and Scottish descent who lives on the ancestral and stolen land of the Coastal Miwok people. Her debut collection, Restless Continent (Litmus Press, 2016) was selected by Entropy Magazine as one of the best poetry collections of 2016 and awarded the California Book Award for Poetry in 2017. Her newest book, Vestigial, is forthcoming from Litmus Press in the spring of 2021. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and a variety of other degrees and credentials to certify her as human. Great Spirit knew it all along.

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 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.

Camille Hayes has a Bachelor's degree in psychology and an MA in English. She lives with her husband and two lovely red poodles.

Sally M. Kim is a publishing and children's book marketing consultant based in San Francisco, CA. Her global client list includes publishers, literary agents, and global non-profit organizations. She is a committee member for Great Group Reads and a board member for The Children's Reading Foundation.

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 Take 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).

Sarah Stone is a librarian and youth materials specialist at the San Francisco Public Library. She reviews children's and teen books for School Library Journal.

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.