Northern California Book Awards Logo line up of clip art books

Celebration: 39th Northern California Book Awards

Sunday, 9/13/2020
2:00 - 3:30
Virtual Library

United States

The 39th annual Northern California Book Awards recognize the best published works of 2019 by Northern California authors. Jack Hirschman, poet and social activist, will be awarded The Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement and Service (The Award carries a $1,000 honorarium.), and Kim Shuck, San Francisco Poet Laureate, 2017-2020, will receive the Northern California Book Reviewers Groundbreaker Award. Authors will read briefly from their winning books.

Categories include:  Fiction, General Nonfiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Children's Literature (Younger Readers, Middle Grade, Older Readers/YA), and Translation (Poetry and Fiction). Northern California reviewers and editors, members of the Northern California Book Reviewers, select the awards by reading and discussing the titles merits. All of the nominated books, the NCBR Recommended Reading List of Books Published in 2019, will be acknowledged and celebrated at the ceremony.

History of the Northern California Book Awards

Since 1981, the Northern California Book Reviewers, a volunteer group of book reviewers and book review editors, have honored the work of Northern California authors. One of the group's founders was Fred Cody, proprietor of the famed independent bookstore in Berkeley. The NCBR created an award in his name to honor a lifetime of achievements and distinguished service to the literary community. The Fred Cody Award for lifetime achievement is presented every year to a member of the literary community.  Previous recipients include Sandra M. Gilbert, Daniel Ellsberg, Judy Grahn, Susan Griffin, Willis Barnstone, Adam Hochschild, Kay Ryan, Michael Pollan, Al Young, Andrew Hoyem, Diane di Prima, Orville Schell, Philip Levine, Ronald Takaki, Francisco X. Alarcón, Carolyn Kizer, Ishmael Reed, Maxine Hong Kingston, Robert Hass, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Malcolm Margolin, Adrienne Rich, Wallace Stegner, Kay Boyle, William Everson, Alice Walker, Gary Snyder, Jessica Mitford, Tillie Olsen, M.F.K. Fisher, Robert Duncan, Nancy J. Peters, and Tamim Ansary.

 The Awards’ Sponsors

Poetry Flash, Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter, PEN West, Mechanics' Institute Library, San Francisco Public Library, and the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library sponsor and/or present the Northern California Book Awards.


SFPL YouTube Live:


2020 Northern California Book Award Nominees


The Battle for People’s Park, Berkeley 1969, Tom Dalzell, Heyday


The Parade, Dave Eggers, Alfred A. Knopf

The Warm South, Paul Kerschen, Roundabout

The Atlas of Reds and Blues, Devi S. Laskar, Counterpoint

The Revisioners, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, Counterpoint

Machine, Susan Steinberg, Graywolf Press


The Invention of Yesterday: A 50,000-Year History of Human Culture, Conflict, and Connection, Tamim Ansary, PublicAffairs

The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California, Mark Arax, Alfred A. Knopf

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life, Louise Aronson, Bloomsbury Publishing

Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, Mike Isaac, W.W. Norton

The Curious World of Seaweed, Josie Iselin, Heyday


The Sixth Man, Andre Iguodala with Carvell Wallace, Blue Rider Press

Socialist Realism, Trisha Low, Coffee House Press

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, Jenny Odell, Melville House

Whose Story Is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters, Rebecca Solnit, Granta Books

The Collected Schizophrenias, Esmé Weijun Wang, Graywolf Press


Locus, Jason Bayani, Omnidawn

A Little More Red Sun on the Human: New & Selected Poems, Gillian Conoley, Nightboat Books

Scar and Flower, Lee Herrick, Word Poetry

A Folio for the Dark, Camille Norton, Sixteen Rivers Press

A Piece of Good News, Katie Peterson, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Father’s Day, Matthew Zapruder, Copper Canyon Press


Translation in Poetry

Sunday Sparrows, Song Lin, translated by Jami Proctor Xu, from the Chinese, Zephyr Press

The Fire's Journey, Part IV: The Return, Eunice Odio, translated by Keith Ekiss, Sonia P. Ticas, and Mauricio Espinoza, from the Spanish, Tavern Books

Translation in Fiction

A Devil Comes to Town, Paolo Maurensig, translated by Anne Milano Appel, from the Italian, World Editions

Mephisto’s Waltz: Selected Short Stories, Sergio Pitol, translated by George Henson, from the Spanish, Deep Vellum Publishing

The Word of the Speechless: Selected Stories, Julio Ramón Ribeyro, edited and translated by Katherine Silver, from the Spanish, New York Review Books Classic


Younger Readers

The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown, Mac Barnett, illustrated by Sarah Jacoby, Balzer + Bray

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border, Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Sara Palacios, Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers

Brave with Beauty: A Story of Afghanistan, Maxine Rose Schur, Yali Books

Middle Grade

The First Dinosaur: How Science Solved the Greatest Mystery on Earth, Ian Lendler, Margaret K. McElderry Books

Emmy in the Key of Code, Amy Lucido, Versify

Extraordinary Birds, Sandy Stark-McGinnis, Bloomsbury

Older Readers/YA

The Downstairs Girl, Stacey Lee, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Patron Saints of Nothing, Randy Ribay, Kokila/Penguin Young Readers

We encourage you to check out these books from your library, or purchase from one our local beloved bookstores. Two we love and recommend are City Lights Books and Bird and Beckett. We Love Bookstores provide great resources about all our Bay Area bookstores.

Engage with your favorite writers and discover your next read.

This program is sponsored by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Attending Programs

For questions about the program or help registering, contact sfplcpp@sfpl.orgAll programs are drop-in (no registration necessary) unless otherwise noted. All SFPL locations are wheelchair accessible. For accommodations (such as ASL or language interpretation), call (415) 557-4557 or contact Requesting at least 3 business days in advance will help ensure availability.

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