Category Archives: American Book Awards

John Okada’s “No-No Boy” Reviewed In Retrospective

John Okada: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy edited by Frank Abe, Greg Robinson, and Floyd Cheung is a winner of the Before Columbus Foundation’s 2019 American Book Awards.

From Inquiries Journal:

Laila Lalami nominated for National Book Award

Lalami’s The Moor’s Account received the American Book Award in 2016. From the LA Times:

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:

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.

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.

Lorna Dee Cervantes and Ishmael Reed’s Band Perform

Lorna Dee Cervantes performs When Ishmael Cooks the Gumbo to a full house with accompaniment from the Ishmael Reed Band at Yoshi’s Jazz Club San Francisco on 11/14/11. This event was part of a benefit for the Before Columbus Foundation. Cervantes’ Emplumada earned considerable critical acclaim and continues to be an important work in Chicana literature. In 1982 it won the American Book Award.