Berkeley Public Library Foundation

Berkeley Public Library Foundation

Featured Authors

On February 10, 2018 the Foundation held the 16th Annual Authors Dinner. 

Jane Smiley, Honorary Chair at Authors Dinner 2018

photo by Derek Shapton

Jane Smiley is this year’s Honorary Chairperson. Born in California but raised in Missouri, Jane Smiley is the 1992 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Fiction for A Thousand Acres, a story about a wealthy Iowa farmer with three daughters, a wonderful novel based on Shakespeare’s King Lear. Her most recent book, Golden Age, is part of a trilogy about several generations of an Iowa family. Jane has written 26 books, won the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, and chaired the judges panel for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize in 2009. She lives in Carmel.

photo by Derek Shapton

Alexandra Ballard at Authors Dinner 2018

Alexandra Ballard’s first novel, What I Lost, was published in June. She has worked as a magazine editor, middle-school English teacher, freelance writer, and cake maker. She holds master’s degrees from both Columbia (journalism) and Fordham (education) and spent ten years in the classroom, beginning in the Bronx and ending up in the hills of California. Today she writes full time and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs.

Anthony Bruce at Authors Dinner 2018

photo by Daniella Thompson

Anthony Bruce’s new book, San Francisco’s Exposition Year:  The 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, was inspired by his grandmother’s vivid stories of having attended the event. In 1974, he became one of the early members of what would become the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. Now he’s the executive director of BAHA and in that role has contributed to a number of publications on Berkeley history and architecture.

photo by Daniella Thompson

Jonathan K. DeYoe at Authors Dinner 2018

Author of Mindful Money, Jonathan K. DeYoe has been an investor and financial planner for more than two decades. As a student of Tibetan Buddhism, he integrates his financial work with mindfulness. He’s driven by the disconnect he sees between the important place money has in our lives and the misunderstandings we have about the true sources of meaning and happiness. Jonathan lives with his wife and children in Berkeley.

Elizabeth Farnsworth at Authors Dinner 2018

Author of the memoir A Train Through Time—a Life, Real and Imagined, Elizabeth Farnsworth is a journalist, filmmaker and author. As a correspondent for the News Hour with Jim Lehrer she reported from Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. She has been nominated for three national Emmy Awards, including for the recent documentary, The Judge and the General, about bringing Augusto Pinochet to justice for human rights crimes. Elizabeth and her husband live in Berkeley.

Vanessa Hua at Authors Dinner 2018

Vanessa Hua is the author of Deceit and Other Possibilities, a recently published collection of short stories that gives voice to the experiences of U.S. immigrants. The book won an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and, in the words of one reviewer, is “exactly what we need to be reading in this country right now.” A columnist at the SF Chronicle, Vanessa also teaches at the Writers’ Grotto in San Francisco. Her debut novel, A River of Stars, will be published in August 2018 (Ballantine).

Cleve Jones at Authors Dinner 2018

Cleve Jones is a human rights activist, lecturer, and author of When We Rise: My Life in the Movement. Mentored by LGBTQ pioneer Harvey Milk, Cleve co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, conceived and founded The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, led the 2009 National March for Equality in Washington D.C., and served on the Advisory Board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which challenged California’s Proposition 8 in the U.S. Supreme Court. Today he works as an organizer for the hospitality workers’ union UNITE HERE.

Laleh Khadivi at Authors Dinner 2018

Laleh Khadivi, an Iranian-American author and filmmaker, has written three novels. The most recent, A Good Country, explores the radicalization of a bright, young Muslim teen in California and the complex interaction of culture, home, identity, and passion as he negotiates life growing up in the U.S. Her debut novel, The Age of Orphans, won several awards, including the Whiting Award for Fiction. Laleh has worked as a director, producer, and cinematographer since 1999. She lives in the Bay Area with her filmmaker husband and two sons.

Ann Killion at Authors Dinner 2018

Ann Killion has covered Bay Area sports for more than two decades. She is the co-author of Solo: A Memoir of Hope with Hope Solo and Throw Like a Girl: How to Dream Big & Believe in Yourself with Jennie Finch. Ann joined the S.F. Chronicle as a sports reporter in 2012. She has been a contributor to Sports Illustrated and, in 2014, was named California Sportswriter of the Year. She has two children and lives in Mill Valley where she grew up. She has two middle-grade books, Champions of Women’s Soccer and Champions of Men’s Soccer, due to be released in the spring. 

Richard Kluger at Authors Dinner 2018

Richard Kluger is an American author who, after working as a New York journalist and publishing executive, turned in mid-career to writing books on U.S. social history. His two best known works are Simple Justice, an account of the Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw racially segregated public schools, and Ashes to Ashes, a history of the cigarette industry and its lethal toll on public health. It won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. He is also the author of seven novels, the latest of which, musical mystery Beethoven’s Tenth, is scheduled to publish in mid-2018.

Anna Lappé at Authors Dinner 2018

Anna Lappé promotes healthy food and sustainable food systems through her writing and advocacy. She’s authored three books and contributed to twelve others. Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It was named by Booklist and Kirkus Reviews as one of the best environmental books of the year. With her mother, Frances Moore Lappé, Anna co-founded Small Planet Institute, an international network for research and education about the root causes of hunger and poverty.

Sarah Ladipo Manyika at Authors Dinner 2018

Sarah Ladipo Manyika was raised in Nigeria and has lived in Kenya, France, and England. She has a doctorate from UC Berkeley. Her second novel, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun (2016), has been described as “gorgeous and finely crafted…. [It] shows ordinary people at their best.” Noting the paucity of stories about older women who have lived colorful lives, especially African women, Sarah says, “When I cannot find stories that I’d like to read, I try writing them for myself.” Sarah is currently Books Editor at

Anthony Marra at Authors Dinner 2018

Writing about Russia and the transcendent power of love during wartime, Anthony Marra’s first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, received numerous awards and praise and was a New York Times bestseller. His latest book, The Tsar of Love and Techno, equally praised, is an interconnected collection of short stories that reads like a novel. Anthony has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, lives in Oakland, and teaches at Stanford University as the Jones Lecturer in Fiction.

Joyce Maynard at Authors Dinner 2018

Joyce Maynard is the New York Times best selling author of seventeen books, including To Die For and Labor Day, both adapted for films, and the best-selling memoir, At Home in the World—translated into sixteen languages. Her newest book, The Best of Us, tells the story of finding her husband and losing him to cancer less than five years later. Anne Lamott called Maynard’s memoir, “profound, heart-wrenching, inspiring, full of joy and tears and life.”

Rita Moreno at Authors Dinner 2018

Rita Moreno: A Memoir is a frank account of Rita Moreno’s personal and professional struggle of self-discovery. It tells the story of her early childhood as Rosita Dolores Alverio in Puerto Rico and continues through her achievements as an actress and performer. Although typecast and limited by Hollywood’s sexual and racial barriers, Rita’s success was achieved through grit, hard work, and immense talent. Winner of a Tony, an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Rita is also an involved member of the Berkeley community.

Markos Moulitsas at Authors Dinner 2018

Markos Moulitsas, nicknamed “Kos,” is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos, a blog focusing on liberal and Democratic Party politics. He served in the U.S. Army from 1989 to 1992, during which he changed his political affiliation from Republican to Democrat. After the Army, Kos attended Northern Illinois University, then earned a J.D. at Boston University School of Law. In mid-2017, he released The Resistance Handbook: 45 Ways to Fight Trump, co-authored with Michael Huttner. Kos also co-founded SB Nation, a collection of sports blogs, now a part of Vox Media.

Eddie Muller at Authors Dinner 2018

Eddie Muller, known as the “Czar of Noir,” is a co-editor, along with Jerry Thompson, of Oakland Noir, a collection of short stories published in 2016. They reveal the diversity, culture, and history of the city through a dark and gritty lens. His writing has been nominated for several Edgar and Anthony awards. Eddie also produces the San Francisco Noir City Film Festival, the largest annual film noir retrospective in the world.

Elizabeth Partridge at Authors Dinner 2018

Elizabeth Partridge grew up in San Francisco in a family of photographers, including her father Rondal Partridge, her grandmother Imogen Cunningham, and her godmother Dorothea Lange. She was the first woman to graduate in Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley. She has written more than a dozen books for adults, young adults, and children. Her soon-to-be-published young adult reader, Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam (April 2018), is an account of the war from many perspectives, including those of soldiers, a nurse, and a refugee.

Amy S. Peele at Authors Dinner 2018

Amy S. Peele enjoyed a 35 year career in transplantation and retired from UCSF in 2014. Her recently published debut novel, CUT: a Medical Murder Mystery, has received several awards including winning in the 2017 Independent Press Awards. CUT reflects her knowledge of and passion for organ donation and transplant issues in a suspenseful, yet humorous story, set in the Bay Area. Amy loves comedy and improv and graduated from Chicago’s famed Second City Players Workshop in 1985.

Thomas Peele at Authors Dinner 2018

An investigative reporter and lecturer in Journalism at UC Berkeley, Thomas Peele was one of the East Bay Times writers who won a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News, given for coverage of the recent “Ghost Fire” in Oakland. He specializes in public records and public accountability reporting. His 2012 book Killing the Messenger: A Story of Radical Faith, Racism’s Backlash, and the Assassination of a Journalist chronicled the 2007 assassination of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey.

Mary Roach at Authors Dinner 2018

photo by Jen Sisk

Mary Roach is a best-selling author who has sold more than one million books in twenty languages. Known for her wit and curiosity, she specializes in accessible and engaging science writing. Her most recent book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, explores the “science of keeping intact, awake, sane, uninfected, and uninfested in the bizarre and extreme circumstances of war.” Mary has written for National Geographic, Wired, Discover, New Scientist, and the Journal of Clinical Anatomy, among others.

photo by Jen Siska

Shanthi Sekaran at Authors Dinner 2018

photo by Daniel Grisales

Shanthi Sekaran is a writer, mother and educator from Berkeley, California. Her recent novel, Lucky Boy (Putnam/Penguin), was named an IndieNext Great Read, and an Amazon Editors’ Pick. The New York Times calls it “brilliantly agonizing” and USA today says “Lucky Boy pulses with vitality, pumped with the life breath of human sin and love.” Her short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Zyzzyva, and Canteen Magazine. She teaches at St. Mary’s College of California, and has two sons.

photo by Daniel Grisales

Tabitha Soren at Authors Dinner 2018

Tabitha Soren is a former television journalist for MTV, ABC, and NBC news and now a renowned photographer. While her husband, Michael Lewis, was writing Moneyball, Tabitha became interested in players selected in the Oakland A’s 2002 draft class. She photographed them over the next fifteen years until they were out of baseball. Those photographs became Fantasy Life: Baseball and the American Dream, a selection of players’ stories that range from struggling with poverty and homelessness to reaching the highest levels of the game.

Nigel Sussman at Authors Dinner 2018

Nigel Sussman creates complex isometric murals and illustrations. The detail is done by hand and with a lighthearted sense of humor that keeps you looking and smiling. His book Alphabet Compendium: An Illustrated A-Z of Things is bold, bright, and complex. Some nights he can be found doing live sketches of odd and fanciful animals at the California Academy of Sciences. Nigel lives in Berkeley with his wife and son. Nigel created the artwork for this year’s Authors Dinner program, posters, and publicity.

Jerry Thompson at Authors Dinner 2018

Born and raised in the New Jersey and New York area, Jerry Thompson traveled cross-country for a year before settling in the Bay Area. An accomplished violinist, playwright and poet, his works have appeared in Zyzzyva, James White Review, and Freedom in this Village. He is also co-author of Black Artists in Oakland, and was the owner of Black Spring Books, an independent bookstore that closed in 2001. He is currently working on a play about the prison system, a memoir, and a collection of poems produced as introductions for over 250 authors he’s hosted over the years.

Marcus Thompson at Authors Dinner 2018

Marcus Thompson is a senior columnist for The Athletic Bay Area. Before that, he spent 18 years on the sports staff at Bay Area News Group. Thompson is a product of Oakland Technical High School and got his degree in journalism from Clark Atlanta University. He is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and adjunct professor at Las Positas College in Livermore. He lives with his wife and daughter in their hometown of Oakland. Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry is his first book, released in April 2017.

Maiya Williams at Authors Dinner 2018

Maiya Williams is a Berkeley High School graduate. At Harvard she was the first black woman on the Harvard Lampoon, elected as a first-semester freshman, a rare feat. She eventually became vice-president of the organization when Conan O’Brien was president. Maiya is a successful comedy writer with numerous television credits ranging from Mad-TV to Fresh Prince of Bel Air. She has written several middle school novels including an inventive time-travel trilogy. Her most recent book is Middle School Cool, re-issued in paperback as Kaboom Academy.

Tina Jones Williams at Authors Dinner 2018

Tina Jones Williams is the author of the four books; Volumes 1-3 of the Julia Street Series, which is comprised of Sara’s Song, Dance or Get Out, and Perfect Pitch (released June 2017) and Some Things I Want You to Know. She was born in Berkeley and was a member of one of the first desegregated classes at Garfield Junior High. Tina earned her degree at the University of Texas. The lure of family brought her back to the Bay Area. Periodically she colors some of her hair blue, fuchsia, or purple so that when she passes a mirror, she smiles at her reflection.

Matthew Zapruder at Authors Dinner 2018

photo by B.A. Van Sise

Matthew Zapruder’s poetry collection, The Pajamaist, won the 2007 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and was chosen by Library Journal as one of the top ten poetry volumes of 2006. His most recent book is Why Poetry, a book of prose about reading poetry. His poems have been adapted by composers, performed at Carnegie Hall, and released as recordings. Matthew is associate professor at Saint Mary’s College, and from 2016 to 2017 he was editor of the poetry column for the New York Times Magazine.

photo by B.A. Van Sise