Berkeley Public Library Foundation

Berkeley Public Library Foundation

2019 Authors

Faith Adiele

Faith Adiele has authored two memoirs: Meeting Faith, an award-winning account of becoming Thailand’s first black Buddhist nun, and The Nigerian Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems. She is writer/narrator/subject of the PBS documentary My Journey Home; and co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology. One of Marie Claire magazine’s “5 Women to Learn From,” Faith teaches at California College of the Arts, the Writers Grotto, and Left Margin Lit. Founder of African Book Club and the nation’s first People of Color travel writing workshop, she lives in Oakland and at and @meetingfaith.

Shane Bauer

Shane Bauer is a senior reporter at Mother Jones magazine. In 2015, Shane took a job as a prison guard in Louisiana to investigate corporate-run prisons, the subject of the award-wining piece, “My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard.” In 2016, he went undercover again to investigate America’s resurgent right-wing paramilitary movement.  His journalism has garnered a number of national awards, including a National Magazine Award for Best Reporting, a Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, a Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism, an Izzy Stone Award, two John Jay Awards for Criminal Justice Reporting, and many others. From 2009-2011 Shane was held hostage in Iran with Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal. Together they co-authored a memoir,  A Sliver of Light. His latest book is American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment (2018).

Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the novels The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Summerland, The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Gentlemen of the Road, Telegraph Avenue, and Moonglow; the short story collections A Model World and Werewolves in Their Youth; the essay collections Maps and Legends, Manhood for Amateurs; and the recent Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.

M. K. Chavez

Latinx writer, MK Chavez, is the author of Mothermorphosis (Nomadic Press) and Dear Animal (Nomadic Press). She is a recipient of a 2017 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award. She is a fellow with CantoMundo, co-founder and co-curator of the reading series Lyrics & Dirges, co-director of the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and guest curator of the reading series at UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) in the Fall of 2018.

Erwin Chemerinsky

Erwin Chemerinsky is Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law at University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He was founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at University of California, Irvine School of Law, and, before that, professor at Duke University and USC. His eleventh book, We the People:  A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the 21st Century, will be published by Picador MacMillan in November 2018. In addition, he is the author of more than 200 law review articles. He writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee, monthly columns for the ABA Journal and the Daily Journal, and frequent op-eds in newspapers across the country. He frequently argues appellate cases, including in the United States Supreme Court. He received a B.S. from Northwestern University (1975), and a J.D. from Harvard Law School (1978).

Kirstin Chen

Kirstin Chen’s new novel, Bury What We Cannot Take (Little A, March 2018), has been named a Most Anticipated Upcoming Book by Electric Literature, The Millions, The Rumpus, Harper’s Bazaar, and InStyle, among others. She is also the author of Soy Sauce for Beginners. She was the fall 2017 NTU-NAC National Writer in Residence in Singapore, and has received awards from the Steinbeck Fellows Program, Sewanee, Hedgebrook, and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. Born and raised in Singapore, she currently resides in San Francisco.

Tom Dalzell

Tom Dalzell has lived in Berkeley since 1984.  He grew up outside Philadelphia. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 he moved to California to work with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.  He worked for the UFW legal department until 1980; during that time, he was admitted to the Bar under a long-ignored state-allowed legal apprenticeship program. Since 1981 he has worked for Local 1245 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, first as an attorney and since  2006 as the elected leader of the union. He has written extensively on slang, and since 2013 has blogged about Berkeley’s quirky material culture for his website Quirky Berkeley and for Berkeleyside. Heyday has published two volumes of Quirky Berkeley, and in April 2019 Heyday will publish his The Crying of Lot 1875-2: The Battle for People’s Park, Berkeley 1969.

Jasmin Darznik

Jasmin Darznik’s debut novel Song of a Captive Bird is a fictional account of Iran’s trailblazing woman poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. It was selected as a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice as well as one of 2018’s Best Books by Vogue, Ms. and Newsweek.  Jasmin is also the author of the New York Times bestseller The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life. Her books have been published and are forthcoming in seventeen countries and her essays have appeared in numerous periodicals, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. Jasmin was born in Tehran, Iran, and came to America when she was five years old. She holds an MFA in fiction from Bennington College and a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University. Now a professor of English and creative writing at California College of the Arts, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and is working on a novel set in 1920s San Francisco.

Carolyn Federman

Carolyn Federman is the founder and Director of the Charlie Cart Project, a nonprofit bringing hands-on food and nutrition education to scale in schools, libraries and other community hubs. Prior to Charlie Cart, Carolyn worked in food education for more than a decade, with such food advocacy pioneers as Alice Waters, Jamie Oliver and Michael Pollan. Carolyn is proudly raising two teenagers in Berkeley, California. She is the author of New Favorites for New Cooks: 50 Delicious Recipes for Kids to Make (2018).

Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama is the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He has previously taught at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and at the George Mason University School of Public Policy. Fukuyama was a researcher at the RAND Corporation and served as the deputy director for the State Department’s policy planning staff. He is the author of Political Order and Political Decay, The Origins of Political OrderThe End of History and the Last ManTrust, and America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. Dr. Fukuyama is chairman of the editorial board of The American Interest, which he helped to found in 2005.

Charlotte Schiander Gray

Charlotte Schiander Gray, author of Fatima’s Room and Stories from Ethiopia, was born in Copenhagen in 1944. After earning her PhD in Scandinavian Languages and Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, she accompanied her American husband, a water engineer for UNICEF, to Yemen, India, Sudan, and Ethiopia. In Sudan she taught English and Women’s Studies at the Ahfad University for Women. She has published academic articles and book reviews on Scandinavian literature, and wrote a book on the Danish author Klaus Rifbjerg. Charlotte has taught literature at UC Berkeley Extension and volunteered for the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library all while also volunteering in the public schools attended by her three sons. For the past fifteen years she has written fictional stories of her life in foreign countries. She spends the summer months in her second home on the Danish island of Ærø.

Sands Hall

Sands Hall’s memoir, Flunk. StartReclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology (Counterpoint), was named a top ten book in religion and spirituality by Publishers Weekly, Spring 2018. Other books include the novel Catching Heaven (Ballantine), a Willa Award Finalist; and a volume of writing essays and exercises, Tools of the Writer’s Craft. Her stories have been published in such places as New England Review, Green Mountains Review, and Iowa Review. Her produced plays include an adaptation of Alcott’s Little Women, and the comic-drama Fair Use, which takes on the “was it plagiarism” controversy surrounding Wallace Stegner’s novel, Angle of Repose. Sands is also a singer/songwriter, with a recent CD called Rustler’s Moon. She lives in Nevada City, California.

Oliver James

Oliver James is an author and illustrator born in Berkeley in 1991. He started watching birds in his backyard on Colusa Avenue at age five and never turned back. Since then he has competed in national birding tournaments, worked as a birding tour guide, and joined ornithological research teams from Peru to Alaska. He graduated from Berkeley High School in 2009, Wesleyan University in 2014, and is currently a graduate student in the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. James is the author of Birds of Berkeley  (Heyday Press, 2018) and A Field Guide to the Birds of Wesleyan (Wesleyan University Press, 2014). To view his work visit

Michael David Lukas

Michael David Lukas has been a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey, a night-shift proofreader in Tel Aviv, and a waiter at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont. Translated into more than a dozen languages, his first novel The Oracle of Stamboul was a finalist for the California Book Award, the NCIBA Book of the Year Award, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize. His second novel, The Last Watchman of Old Cairo, was published recently by Spiegel & Grau. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Maryland, he is a recipient of scholarships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Montalvo Arts Center, New York State Summer Writers’ Institute, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and Elizabeth George Foundation. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Slate, National Geographic Traveler, and Georgia Review. He lives in Oakland and teaches at San Francisco State University.

Laura McLively

Laura McLively is an Oakland-based registered dietitian and food writer. An avid home cook, Laura is the creator of My Berkeley Bowl, a popular blog about cooking with unusual fruits and vegetables from Berkeley Bowl, from which the seeds for her Berkeley Bowl Cookbook took root. McLively has worked at the Native American Health Center in Oakland since 2009, where she is currently the Director of Nutrition and Fitness.

Laura Nader

Laura Nader’s current work focuses on how central dogmas are made and how they work in law, energy science, and anthropology. Harmony, Ideology, Injustice and Control in a Mountain Zapotec Village (1990) and The Life of the Law: Anthropological Projects (2002) indicate a wide range of interests in law that has moved from village sites into national and international arenas. Energy Choices in a Democratic Society (1980) is the initial work that has continued on in the area of energy and resources culminating in Naked Science Anthropological Inquiry into Boundaries, Power, and Knowledge (1996). Essays in Controlling Processes (1994, 1996, 2002) is ongoing work on power and control. Nader is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1995 the Law and Society Association awarded her the Kalven Prize for distinguished research on law and society. Her latest works are What the Rest Think of the West: Since 600AD (2015) and Contrarian Anthropology: The Unwritten Rules of Academia (2018).

Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angels Camp, California. His latest book is There There (2018).


Halifu Osumare

Halifu Osumare, Ph.D., is a choreographer and scholar who has been involved with dance and black popular culture internationally, for over forty years, as a dancer, choreographer, teacher, administrator, and scholar. She holds an M.A. in Dance Ethnology, and a Ph.D. in American Studies. Dr. Osumare is Professor Emerita of African American & African Studies at University of California, Davis, and is a noted hip-hop scholar as the author of The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves (2007) and The Hiplife in Ghana: West African Indigenization of Hip-Hop (2012). Her memoir, Dancing in Blackness, which contains much Bay Area cultural and arts history, was published by the University Press of Florida in February 2018.

Cleo Papanikolas

Cleo Papanikolas is the author/illustrator of The Opposite Is Also True: A Journal Of Creative Wisdom For Artists and Cook Until Desired Tenderness. After Berkeley High School she earned a BFA in printmaking from California College of Arts and an MFA in painting from the University of California, Berkeley. As a working artist, Cleo has painted large public murals, oil-on-canvas paintings for fine art galleries, and illustrations for print and her Cleomade craft business. She currently teaches illustration at California College of the Arts extension.

Anna Rabkin

Anna Rabkin’s early life in Poland was one of serial escapes – from Communists, Nazis, and her Catholic saviors. After WWII to escape Polish fascism she was sent to England. At the age of 18 she emigrated to New York where she was introduced to a cosmopolitan, globetrotting life. Anna and her husband migrated to Berkeley in the sixties and became active in local politics. She served as Berkeley’s elected City Auditor for 15 years; was a 1991 delegate to the White House Conference on Libraries; co-authored Public Libraries: Travel Treasures of the West, and in 2009 received Berkeley Public Library Foundation’s Fred and Pat Cody award. Recipient of master’s degrees in City Planning from University of California, Berkeley and in History from California State University, East Bay; she continues to visit libraries whenever she travels. Her memoir, From Krakow to Berkeley: Coming out of Hiding, was published by Vallentine Mitchell in 2018.

David Reid

David Reid is the editor of Sex, Death and God in L.A. and coeditor of West of the West: Imagining California. His essays, articles, reviews, and interviews have appeared in Vanity Fair, The Paris Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and in several anthologies, including The Pushcart Prize XII. He lives in Berkeley, California.


Greg Sarris

Greg Sarris received his Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University, where he was awarded the Walter Gore Award for excellence in teaching.  He has published several books, including Grand Avenue (1994), an award-winning collection of short stories, which he adapted for an HBO miniseries and co-executive produced with Robert Redford.  He is serving his thirteenth elected term as Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.  Formerly a full professor of English at UCLA, and then the Fletcher Jones Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Loyola Marymount University, Greg now holds the position of Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Endowed Chair of Sonoma State University, where he teaches a number of courses in Creative Writing, American Literature, and American Indian Literature.  His new book How a Mountain Was Made, a collection of stories was released in October 2017.

Erin Scott

Erin Scott is a food and lifestyle photographer who works out of her North Berkeley garden studio. Inspired by nature’s bounty, Erin has photographed nearly twenty books, most recently The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook, and her images have been featured in Sunset Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Edible SF, and the Huffington Post. Erin is also a passionate home cook and author of the Yummy Supper cookbook, which was honored by the BPL in 2015.

Robin Sloan

Robin Sloan’s first novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, was a New York Times Best Seller, translated into more than twenty languages. His latest novel, Sourdough, was published in 2017. With his partner Kathryn Tomajan, Robin produces California extra virgin olive oil under the label Fat Gold. He lives in Oakland and works out of the Murray Street Media Lab in South Berkeley, down by the railroad tracks.


Betty Reid Soskin

Betty Charbonnet Reid Soskin is an author, singer, songwriter, social and political activist, entrepreneur, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, historian, blogger, public speaker, and National Park Service Ranger. Betty was instrumental in the establishment of Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, in 2000 where she now works. Born in 1921, she spent her early years in New Orleans. Her family later settled in Oakland, California in 1927. In March of 2018, her first book, Sign My Name to Freedom, a memoir of her long, multifaceted life was published.

Oscar Villalon

Oscar Villalon is the managing editor at the San Francisco literary journal ZYZZYVA. His writing has been published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, the Daily Beast,, the Rumpus, and other publications. A contributing editor to Lit Hub, he is a former board member of the National Book Critics Circle and the former book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle.


Ayelet Waldman

Ayelet Waldman is the author of A Really Good Day:  How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, the novels Love and Treasure, Red Hook Road, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, and Daughter’s Keeper, as well of the essay collection Bad Mother:  A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamaties, and Occasional Moments of Grace and the Mommy-Track Mystery series.  She is the editor of Inside this Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons and the forthcoming Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation.  She was a federal public defender and an adjunct professor at the UC Berkeley Law School where she developed and taught a course on the legal implications of the War on Drugs.  She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband, Michael Chabon, and their four children.

Narda Zacchino

Narda Zacchino is a journalist, writer and editor. She worked at the Los Angeles Times for over thirty years, eventually serving as vice president and associate editor. She has also been the deputy editor for the San Francisco Chronicle and served as a member of the Board of Directors for the International Women’s Media Foundation and Journalism and Women’s Symposium. She has co-launched a book publishing company, Time Capsule Press, which she serves as editor and publisher. In 1995, she co-created the ongoing Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which draws more than 100,000 to the campus of the University of California on a weekend every April. She is currently Heyday’s executive editor and a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, and continues to work as an independent writer and editor. Her most recent book California Comeback:  How a “Failed State” Became a Model for the Nation came out in August of 2016.

Jessica Nutik Zitter

Jessica Zitter, MD, MPH, practices ICU and Palliative Care at the Highland Hospital in Oakland, California. She is the author of Extreme Measures:  Finding a Better Path to the End of Life. Her essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Huffington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and other publications.  Her work is featured in the Oscar and Emmy-nominated short documentary, Extremis, now streaming on Netflix. She is a nationally recognized speaker on the topic of dying in America.