NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD Express %26 Inspire Development %26 Publication

39th Annual Northern California Book Awards


Sunday, September 13, 2020 • 2:00 pm PDT

NCBR Recognition Award

The Battle for People's Park, Berkeley 1969, Tom Dalzell, Foreword by Todd Gitlin, Afterword by Steve Wasserman (Heyday)

Children's Literature-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, art by Patricia Grush, Robin DeWitt, and Golsa Yaghoobi, Yali Books - Winner

Children's Literature-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, Aimee Lucido, Versify - Winner
Extraordinary Birds, Sandy Stark-McGinnis, Bloomsbury

Children's Literature-Older Readers/Young Adult

The Downstairs Girl, Stacey Lee, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - Winner
Patron Saints of Nothing, Randy Ribay, Kokila/Penguin Young Readers


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


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 Classics - Winner

General Nonfiction

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 - Winner
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

Creative Nonfiction

The Sixth Man, Andre Iguodala with Carvell Wallace, Blue Rider Press
Socialist Realism, Trisha Low, Emily Books/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, Haymarket Books
The Collected Schizophrenias, Esmé Weijun Wang, Graywolf Press - Winner

NCBR Groundbreaker Award

Kim Shuck, San Francisco Poet Laureate, 2017-2020


The Parade, Dave Eggers, Alfred A. Knopf
The Warm South, Paul Kerschen, Roundabout - Winner
The Atlas of Reds and Blues, Devi S. Laskar, Counterpoint
The Revisioners, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, Counterpoint
Machine, Susan Steinberg, Graywolf Press


Locus, Jason Bayani, Omnidawn
A Little More Red Sun on the Human: New & Selected Poems, Gillian Conoley, Nightboat Books - Winner
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

Fred Cody Award For Lifetime Achievement & Service

Poet and social activist Jack Hirschman

Northern California Book Reviewers, NCBR, a volunteer group of book reviewers and book review editors who read and write professionally, have met regularly since 1981 to recommend books by presenting annual book awards to northern California authors. Program précis and statements on this year’s nominated books are by the reviewer-members of NCBR 2020. New members are always welcome.

These NCBR members served on a 2020 committee or cast a final vote:

Children’s Literature: Deborah Kelson, Mary Mackey, Richard Mandrachio, Paul Skenazy, Joyce Thompson.
Translation: Sharon Coleman, Carol Cosman, Lee Rossi, Barbara Paschke.

General Nonfiction: Fran Claggett-Holland, Susan E. Gunter, James LeCuyer.

Creative Nonfiction: Grace Feuerverger James LeCuyer, Paul Skenazy, Roberta Werdinger.

Fiction: Alta Ifland, Eileen Malone, Linda Michel-Cassidy, Amy Glynn, Toni Piccinini, Steven Simmons.

Poetry: Sharon Coleman, Joan Gelfand, Joyce Jenkins, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Frances Phillips, David Roderick, Lee Rossi.

The entire NCBR membership, including Carolyn Cooke, Robin Ekiss, Rebecca Foust, Stephen Kessler, Summer Laurie, Jonah Raskin, Wanda Sabir, Olivia Sears, Susan Terris, and others may contribute suggestions and vote on the Fred Cody Award and the NCBR Recognition and NCBR Groundbreaker Awards. Special thanks to Stephen Bunza, Fred Dodsworth, Lily Hill, Richard Silberg, and Amy Wu.

Fred Cody Award For Lifetime Achievement & Service

Photo by Luke Thomas.

Poet and social activist Jack Hirschman

Prolific poet, prodigious translator from several languages, enthusiastic encourager and friend to countless poets and cultural workers, activist and agitator for peace and economic justice, Jack Hirschman has been an extraordinarily generous presence in the Bay Area literary community for half a century. The fourth San Francisco Poet Laureate (2006-2008) and an informal public figure in North Beach, known for working in cafes and hawking various publications for the homeless and other social and political causes, Hirschman, at eighty-six, is an old-school radical bohemian of the highest order and a proudly independent practitioner of the poetic arts, with a jazz-infused Joycean energy in his language and undaunted idealism in his vision. Perennially outside the mainstream and known for his ideological commitment, he is the author or translator of more than 100 books published by small presses throughout the United States and Europe, most notably his epic multivolume, 1,800-plus page The Arcanes (published in Italy by Multimedia Edizioni). The editor of numerous little magazines, journals and anthologies, an organizer and performer of electrifying and unmistakably authentic benefits and reading series and festivals, mentor to younger poets and translators, and a tireless advocate for the oppressed and marginalized, Jack Hirschman has been a cultivator of creative community in the Bay Area continuously since the early 1970s. He has richly earned the honor of this recognition by his contributions to the noncommercial cultural life of Northern California.

- back to program -

NCBR Groundbreaker Award

Photo by Chris Felver.

Kim Shuck, San Francisco Poet Laureate, 2017-2020

Kim Shuck is a San Francisco born and raised poet and visual artist, a maverick, an innovator, who has brought people into the circle of poetry in San Francisco who have never been included before. She has a blazed a new trail for being Poet Laureate anywhere with the number and variety of events she has produced and read at as San Francisco Poet Laureate. She has been an extraordinary Poet Laureate, launching Fire Thieves, an inter-sectional and inter-generational poetry series, and Seeds: Creating Poetic Activism, a program to help poets grow writing and reading series audiences in their own communities across the city. She has a blazed a new trail for being Poet Laureate anywhere with the number and variety of events she has produced and read at as San Francisco Poet Laureate. And she did it all while publishing a beautiful collection of poetry, Deer Trails, San Francisco Poet Laureate Series-No. 7, City Lights. Kim Shuck is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Besides Deer Trails, her books include Clouds Running In (2014), Rabbit Stories (2013), Smuggling Cherokee (2005), and the chapbook Sidewalk Ndn (2018). In 2019, Shuck was awarded an inaugural National Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets and a PEN Oakland Censorship Award.

- back to program -

NCBR Recognition Award