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

40th Annual Northern California Book Awards

Celebrating books published by Northern California authors and California literary translators in 2020

Sunday, July 11, 2021 • 2:00 pm PDT

press release
Celebrate Northern California's vibrant literary scene on Sunday, July 11, 2021, 2:00 pm Pacific Time, when the 40th annual Northern California Book Awards will recognize the best published works of 2020 by Northern California authors and California literary translators.

The NCBAs are presented by Northern California Book Reviewers, Poetry Flash, and San Francisco Public Library, with our community partners Mechanics' Institute Library, Women's National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter, and Pen West.

This year, and from now on, the California Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose will honor works of translation by translators across California. Translation nominees named here include literary translators based all over the Golden State, including North Bay, Oakland, San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and San Diego areas.

The Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement and Service will be presented to a distinguished member of the Northern Californian literary community; the award carries a $1,000 honorarium. The winning authors will briefly present their nominated books. Nominated books will be available for online purchase during the event.

Northern California reviewers and editors, members of Northern California Book Reviewers, select the awards. All of the nominated books, the NCBR Recommended Reading List of Books Published in 2020, will be acknowledged and celebrated at the ceremony.

NCBA 2021 Online Bookstore: The featured and nominated books are available for purchase here, hosted by City Lights Books: is an online bookstore that financially supports local independent bookstores and gives back to the book community.

2021 Awards Program


Children's Literature: Younger Readers
The Good Song, Alexandria Giardino, illustrated by Penelope Dullaghan, Cameron Kids ()
You Matter, Christian Robinson, Atheneum Books for Young Readers ()
A Book for Escargot, Dashka Slater, illustrated by Sydney Hanson, Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers () WINNER

Children's Literature: Middle Grade
Orphan Eleven, Gennifer Choldenko, Wendy Lamb Books ()
The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane, Kate O'Shaughnessy, Knopf Books for Young Readers ()
Land of the Cranes, Aida Salazar, Scholastic Press () WINNER

Children's Literature: Young Adult
We Are Not Free, Traci Chee, HMH Books for Young Readers ()
Dark and Deepest Red, Anna-Marie McLemore, Feiwel & Friends ()
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Candlewick () WINNER


California Translation in Poetry
Plagios/Plagiarisms, Ulalume González de León, translated by Terry Ehret, John Johnson, and Nancy J. Morales, from the Spanish, Sixteen Rivers Press () WINNER
Etudes: A Rilke Recital, Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Art Beck, from the German, Shanti Arts Publishing ()
My Village: Selected Poems 1972-2014, Wu Sheng, translated by John Balcom, from the Chinese, Zephyr Press ()

California Translation in Prose
Heaven and Earth, Paolo Giordano, translated by Anne Milano Appel, from the Italian, Pamela Dorman Books/Viking ()
Surrender, Ray Loriga, translated by Carolina De Robertis, from the Spanish, Mariner Books () WINNER
Bezoar and Other Unsettling Stories, Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine, from the Spanish, Seven Stories Press ()
Savage Kiss, Roberto Saviano, translated by Antony Shugaar, from the Italian, Farrar, Straus and Giroux ()
Nine Moons, Gabriela Wiener, translated by Jessica Powell, from the Spanish, Restless Books ()


Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asawa, Marilyn Chase, Chronicle Books ()
Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy, Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano, W.W. Norton ()
The Forests of California: A California Field Atlas, Obi Kaufmann, Heyday ()
American Harvest: God, Country, and Farming in the Heartland, Marie Mutsuki Mockett, Graywolf Press () WINNER
Empire of Resentment: Populism's Toxic Embrace of Nationalism, Lawrence Rosenthal, The New Press ()


Try to Get Lost: Essays on Travel and Place, Joan Frank, University of New Mexico Press ()
Mobile Home: A Memoir in Essays, Megan Harlan, The University of Georgia Press ()
Synthesizing Gravity: Selected Prose, Kay Ryan, Grove Press ()
Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir, Rebecca Solnit, Viking () WINNER
Scratched: A Memoir of Perfectionism, Elizabeth Tallent, Harper ()


Tongo Eisen-Martin, San Francisco Poet Laureate, 2021
Teacher and Activist
Heaven Is All Goodbyes: Pocket Poets No. 61, City Lights Books, 2017


Indigo, Ellen Bass, Copper Canyon Press ()
Piñata Theory, Alan Chazaro, Black Lawrence Press ()
Spring and a Thousand Years (Unabridged), Judy Halebsky, University of Arkansas Press ()
Bonfire Opera, Danusha Laméris, University of Pittsburgh Press () WINNER
Storage Unit for the Spirit House, Maw Shein Win, Omnidawn ()
Transformer, Kathleen Winter, The Word Works ()


Tell Me, Signora, Ann Harleman, Elixir Press ()
The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories, Caroline Kim, University of Pittsburgh Press ()
A Registry of My Passage upon the Earth, Daniel Mason, Little, Brown and Company () WINNER
Only the River, Anne Raeff, Counterpoint ()
The Son of Good Fortune, Lysley Tenorio, Ecco/HarperCollins ()


Photo by Carlos Puma.

Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2015-2017
Teacher and Activist
Every Day We Get More Illegal, City Lights Books, 2020

The winners in each category will be announced at the online awards ceremony, July 11, 2021.

Free and open to the public.

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 Daniel Ellsberg, Sandra M. Gilbert, Jack Hirschman, 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.

To support or join the Northern California Book Reviewers: contact Joyce Jenkins, NCBR chair, at

The Northern California Book Awards would not exist without the support of these Northern California Book Reviewers members: Children's Literature: Alessandra Argüello, Amy Glynn, Deborah Kelson, Summer Laurie, Mary Mackey, Richard Mandrachio, Katherine Megna. • Translation: Sharon Coleman, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Lee Rossi, Barbara Paschke. • General Nonfiction: Fran Claggett-Holland, Susan E. Gunter, James LeCuyer. • Creative Nonfiction: Grace Feuerverger, Ann Harleman, Paul Skenazy, Roberta Werdinger. • Poetry: Sharon Coleman, Joyce Jenkins, Eileen Malone, Linda Michel-Cassidy, Frances Phillips, David Roderick, Susan Terris. • Fiction: Eileen Malone, Toni Piccinini, Steven Simmons. • The entire NCBR membership, including Rebecca Foust, Stephen Kessler, Jonah Raskin, Wanda Sabir, Olivia Sears, and more may vote on the Fred Cody and NCBR Awards.

Thanks to Poetry Flash: Kirsten Avilla • Stephen Bunza • Catalina Cariaga • Fred Dodsworth • Rosalinda Monroy • Richard Silberg • Amy Wu

© 1972-2021 Poetry Flash. All rights reserved.  |