Category Archives: American Book Awards

Thi Bui, American Book Award winner, named Best of the East Bay

The East Bay Express names Thi Bui “Best Graphic Novelist Fighting For The Underdog”  in their annual Best of the East Bay list, including biographical article:

2018 American Book Awards

The Press Release for the 2018 American Book Awards has been released: American Book Award 2018 Press Release

The Raymond House • 655 13th Street • Suite 302 • Oakland, California 94612

August 13, 2018


Contact: Justin Desmangles, 916-425-7916

The Before Columbus Foundation announces the

Winners of the Thirty-Ninth Annual


Ceremonies, October 28, 2018, 12:00–2:30 p.m.

Oakland, CA—The Before Columbus Foundation announces the Winners of the Thirty-Ninth Annual AMERICAN BOOK AWARDS. The 2018 American Book Award winners will be formally recognized on Sunday, October 28, from 12:00-2:30 p.m. at the SF Jazz Center, Joe Henderson Lab, 201 Franklin Street (at Fell), San Francisco, CA. This event is open to the public.

The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized authors and first works. There are no quotas for diversity, the winners list simply reflects it as a natural process. The Before Columbus Foundation views American culture as inclusive and has always considered the term “multicultural” to be not a description of various categories, groups, or “special interests,” but rather as the definition of all of American literature. The Awards are not bestowed by an industry organization, but rather are a writers’ award given by other writers.

The 2018 American Book Award Winners are:

Thi Bui, The Best That We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir (Harry N. Abrams)

Rachelle Cruz, God’s Will for Monsters (Inlandia Books)

Tommy Curry, The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood
(Temple University Press)

Tongo Eisen-Martin, Heaven Is All Goodbyes (City Lights)

Dana Naone Hall, Life of the Land: Articulations of a Native Writer (‘Ai Pohaku Press)

Kelly Lytle Hernández, City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965 (University of North Carolina)

Victor LaValle, The Changeling: A Novel (Spiegel & Grau)

Bojan Louis, Currents (BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City)

Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions (Coffee House)

Cathryn Josefina Merla-Watson and B. V. Olguín, Altermundos Latin@ Speculative Literature, Film, and Popular Culture (UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press)

Tiya Miles, The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits (The New Press)

Tommy Pico, Nature Poem (Tin House Books)

Rena Priest, Patriarchy Blues (MoonPath Press)

Joseph Rios, Shadowboxing: poems & impersonations (Omnidawn)

Sunaura Taylor, Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation (The New Press)

Lifetime Achievement

Sequoyah Guess

Walter & Lillian Lowenfels Criticism Award

Kellie Jones, South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s

(Duke University)

Editor/Publisher Award

Charles F. Harris

Anti-Censorship Award

Rob Rogers

Oral Literature Award

Heroes Are Gang Leaders



Laila Lalami criticizes US immigrant detention policy

Lalami has received the American Book Award in 2016 for novel The Moor’s Account. From The Nation:

Roscoe Mitchell to perform musical tribute to poet Bob Kaufman

(This event is free and open to the public)
Before Columbus Foundation Presents
In Association with The African-American Center of The San Francisco Public Library and Justin Desmangles, Chair of Before Columbus Foundation

Does the Secret Mind Whisper?
A Celebration of Poet Bob Kaufman with Roscoe Mitchell

Where: San Francisco Public Library’s Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St. San Francisco, California

A towering presence in Afro-American classical music for over five decades, Roscoe Mitchell (Art Ensemble of Chicago) presents a program of music and poetry celebrating Bob Kaufman.

Roscoe Mitchell, reeds
Brett Carson, keyboard
Justin Desmangles, voice

You can RSVP to the event on Facebook here:

Resisting Disaster Capitalism in Puerto Rico

On Wednesday, June 6, The Intercept co-hosted “The Battle for Paradise: Resisting Disaster Capitalism in Puerto Rico,” an event focused on how the forces of disaster capitalism are seeking to undermine the Puerto Rican people’s vision for a just and renewable future. Video of the discussion can be seen on The Intercept‘s website:

The event features Naomi Klein alongside various other esteemed scholars and journalists. Klein received the American Book Award in 2015 for This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs The Climate.


Spanish-language coverage of Ishmael Reed’s trip to Catalonia

Ishmael Reed, founder of Before Columbus Foundation and the American Book Award, has recently traveled to Catalonia, Spain for the First Person Festival and other engagements. Includes discussion of his latest book, Flight to Canada. Coverage from various sources linked below:

UCLA hosts discussion of Vaughn Rasberry’s “Race and the Totalitarian Century”

Rasberry received the 2017 American Book Award for Race and the Totalitarian Century: Geopolitics in the Black Literary Imagination

Will Alexander, Justin Desmangles, Robin D.G. Kelley, Vaughn Rasberry, Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, UCLA, May 15, 2018 (photo by Tatyana Ali)

Nancy Mercado delivers Keynote Address at Rutgers’ Rites of Passage Ceremony

Rites of Passage, a graduation ceremony for Black and Latinx students at Rutgers, invited Nancy Mercado to deliver its Keynote address in 2018. Mercado received the 2017 American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement. Event details can be read here: Video from YouTube:

Ishmael Reed’s play Life Among The Aryans to debut

“Life Among the Aryans” Opens May 31, 2018 in New York City at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Tickets can be purchased from Ticketfly:

John Keene speaks on elements of literary style

Keene’s Counternarratives received the American Book Award in 2016. “Literary style is the material articulation, in whatever genre and form, of an author’s attempt to record their vision, sensibility, and apperception of the world.” Speech originally delivered at Association of Writers/Writing Programs (AWP) Tampa Transcript From Literary Hub: