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42nd Annual Northern California Book Awards

Celebrating books published by Northern California authors and California literary translators in 2022

Saturday, September 30, 2023 • 2:00 pm PDT

Reception follows

press release

Check back for more information, including judges' statements on each nominated book.
Celebrate Northern California's vibrant literary scene on Saturday, September 30, 2023, 2:00 pm Pacific Time, when the 42nd annual Northern California Book Awards will recognize the best published works of 2022 by Northern California authors and California literary translators. Reviewers and editors—members of Northern California Book Reviewers—select the awards. A reception at the library will follow the ceremony. The event is free and open to the public.

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

California Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose will honor works of translation by literary translators in California.

Nominated books will be available for purchase at the event. The winning book in each category will be announced in-person at the awards ceremony. The NCBR Annual Recommended Reading List, all of the nominated books, will be celebrated at the ceremony.

For more information:, 510.525-5476, or cell-text 510.612.3958.

2023 Awards Program


Brenda Hillman. Photo credit: Robert Hass.

Brenda Hillman
Poet, Activist, Educator


Litquake, San Francisco's Literary Festival (


Illustrated Black History: Honoring the Iconic and the Unseen, George McCalman, HarperOne


Martian: The Saint of Loneliness, James Cagney, Nomadic Press
Of Mineral, Tiff Dressen, Nightboat Books
Customs: Poems, Solmaz Sharif, Graywolf Press WINNER
Open Pit, Jose Antonio Villarán, Counterpath Press
As She Appears, Shelley Wong, YesYes Books


If I Survive You, Jonathan Escoffery, MCD
Forbidden City, Vanessa Hua, Ballantine Books
Divine Madness, Lynne Kaufman, Tailwinds Press
What We Fed to the Manticore, Talia Lakshmi Kolluri, Tin House
Nightcrawling, Leila Mottley, Knopf WINNER


Spy Daughter, Queer Girl: In Search of Truth and Acceptance in a Family of Secrets, Leslie Absher, Latah Press
How to Read Now: Essays, Elaine Castillo, Viking
The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Doubleday
Creativity: Where Poems Begin, Mary Mackey, Marsh Hawk Press
Year of the Tiger: An Activist's Life, Alice Wong, Vintage WINNER


Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies, Lara Gabrielle, University of California Press
American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis, Adam Hochschild, Mariner Books
Wise Gals: The Spies Who Built the CIA and Changed the Future of Espionage, Nathalia Holt, G.P. Putnam's Sons
Listen, World! How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America's Most-Read Woman, Julia Scheeres and Allison Gilbert, Seal Press WINNER
Who Killed Jane Stanford? A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits and the Birth of a University, Richard White, W.W. Norton & Company


California Translation in Poetry
Fiat Lux, Paula Abramo, translated from the Spanish by Dick Cluster, Flowersong Press
It Must Be a Misunderstanding, Coral Bracho, translated from the Spanish by Forrest Gander, New Directions
A Summer Day in the Company of Ghosts, Wang Yin, translated from the Chinese by Andrea Lingenfelter, NYRB Poets WINNER

California Translation in Prose
The Old Woman with the Knife, Gu Byeong-mo, translated from the Korean by Chi-Young Kim, Hanover Square Press/HarperCollins
The Performance, Claudia Petrucci, translated from the Italian by Anne Milano Appel, World Editions WINNER


Younger Readers
Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas, Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Loveis Wise, Harper WINNER
Eighteen Vats of Water, Ji-Li Jiang, illustrated by Nadia Hsieh, Creston Books
Listen to the Language of the Trees: A story of how forests communicate underground, Tera Kelley, illustrated by Marie Hermansson, Dawn Publications

Middle Grade
Undercover Latina, Aya de León, Candlewick Press WINNER
Wave, Diana Farid, illustrated by Kris Goto, Cameron Kids
Seen and Unseen: What Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake, and Ansel Adams's Photographs Reveal About the Japanese American Incarceration, Elizabeth Partridge, illustrated by Lauren Tamaki, Chronicle Books

Young Adult
No Stopping Us Now, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Three Rooms Press
Self-Made Boys, Anna-Marie McLemore, Feiwel & Friends
Mattie and the Machine, Lynn Ng Quezon, Santa Monica Press
All My Rage, Sabaa Tahir, Razorbill WINNER

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 Isabel Allende, Juan Felipe Herrera, 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.

NCBA Guidelines and Information:

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