Monthly Archives: September 2019

2019 American Book Awards Ceremony Announced

The 2019 American Book Award winners will be formally recognized on Friday, November 1, 2019, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA. This event is open to the public.

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Joy Harjo’s “An American Sunrise” Reviewed by New York Times

Harjo was recently named American Poet Laureate by the U.S. Library of Congress, becoming the first Native American awarded the title. Their poetry collection In Mad Love And War received the American Book Award in 1991. The New York Times reviews her latest release.

Robin Kelley Examines Controversy Over Victor Arnautauff’s Murals

On June 25, the San Francisco School Board voted to destroy Victor Arnautoff’s Depression-era mural series Life of Washington at George Washington High School because it was deemed racist and demeaning. Some students and educators—as well as school board officials, indigenous groups, and various black and Latinx leaders—have singled out two of the murals, which show enslaved Africans and a disturbing image of a dead Indian. The school board’s decision provoked a national campaign in defense of Arnautoff’s work, with proponents citing First Amendment issues, the importance of historical memory, the failure to grasp the radical intent behind the mural series, and the absurdity of spending $600,000 that could have gone to fund arts education to destroy a work of art.

Robin D.G. Kelley has received the American Book Award. For The Nation:

Ishmael Reed’s Play Showing at Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Ishmael Reed’s new play “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda” returns to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe this October, after a run of sold-out performances and press coverage from the New York Times, New Yorker Magazine, the Observer, the Paris Review and more. Like theater in the time of Bertolt Brecht or the WPA, Reed’s new work (under the direction of multiple AUDELCO winner Rome Neal) challenges the narrative of commercial theater and mainstream historical accounts. Reed’s play brings to the forefront those characters who are absent from “Hamilton, The Revolution”: slaves, Native Americans, indentured servants & Harriet Tubman. Performances of “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda” take place October 4-27, 2019. Visit to purchase tickets. RSVP on Facebook:

Salman Rushdie and Marlon James In Conversation

The two met to read and discuss recent works as part of PEN America’s Pen Out Loud series. Salman Rushdie celebrates the release of his newest novel, QUICHOTTE, recently shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Quichotte is a dazzling, modern take on Don Quixote by a literary master, at once an homage and a unique work of art. Rushdie was joined in conversation by Man Booker Prize-winning author Marlon James (BLACK LEOPARD, RED WOLF), to read from his work, and discuss his literary interpretation of a classic. James sits on Before Columbus Foundation’s Board of Directors, and his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings received the American Book Award in 2015.

Shawn Wong Interviewed About Asian-American Literature

Wong is one of Before Columbus Foundation’s original founders and currently sits on its board of directors.

Shawn Wong is a writer and Professor of English at the University of Washington. He has published two novels, Homebase (1979) and American Knees (1995), and is the editor of many anthologies of Asian-American literature, including Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers, which helped establish the field. He has been critical to the rise of Asian-American literature in its writing, teaching, and discussion. When Homebase was first published in 1979, it was the only Chinese-American novel in print in America. As a scholar, Shawn Wong pioneered Asian-American studies and co-organized the first Asian-American writer’s conference. In this interview, we discuss these beginnings, the state of Asian-American literature now, as well as his works and teaching.

Ishmael Reed Writes New Introduction for Author Charles S. Wright

The Collected Novels of Charles S. Wright has been republished in 2019 with a new introduction from Ishmael Reed containing an in depth and personal examination of the Author’s history.

From The Literary Hub:

San Francisco Library Hosts American Book Award Winner Tommy Orange

San Francisco Public Library is honored to announce its 15th Annual One City One Book main event, #ThereThere by Tommy Orange, presented in partnership with Litquake. Tommy Orange will be at the Main Library in conversation with San Francisco Poet Laureate Kim Shuck.

“There There” tells the story of urban Native Americans living in Oakland, CA, depicting a beautiful, compelling, heartbreaking and urgently real landscape of the Native experience living in the Bay Area past and present day.

Throughout the months of October and November 2019, “There There” will be widely available at all San Francisco libraries and at bookstores around the city. We are pleased to offer many events and programs related to #OneCityOneBook, including book talks, themed exhibits, related programs and speakers along with city-wide celebration of Indigenous heritage and the 50th anniversary of the Alcatraz Occupation.

This year’s One City One Book program is a joint partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission, Oakland Public Library, City College of San Francisco, and June Jordan School of Equity. Key sponsors are Friends of the San Francisco Public Library and Litquake.

Koret Auditorium
San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin St., San Francisco



All libraries are wheelchair accessible. To request other accommodations, call 415-557-4557 or contact Requesting 72 hours in advance will help ensure availability.

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Mercury News Covers Tommy Orange’s American Book Award

Orange’s debut novel There There has received the 2019 American Book Award. It plumbs the substance of Native American lives in Oakland, California.

Wales Bonner Profiled by Vogue and GQ Magazines

Designer Wales Bonner is a young rising star of fashion. Profiles of her work linked below highlight Bonner’s ongoing collaboration with Ishmael Reed.