Press Release from…

The Commonwealth Club of California

595 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94105


Contacts: Riki Rafner, 415.597.6712

Arvi Kaur, 415.597.6734

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                        


Winners of 81st Annual California Book Awards Competition Announced

Gold Medals Awarded to:


Alice LaPlante Turn of the Mind for FICTION

Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino Chasing AphroditeThe Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum for NONFICTION

Giovanni Singleton Ascension for POETRY

 Awards Ceremony: Thursday June 7, 2012 at 6 p.m.

Sponsored by Bank of the West

SAN FRANCISCO – (May1, 2012) The Commonwealth Club has announced this year’s winners of the California Book Awards.  Book lovers from around the state will gather on Thursday, June 7, at 6pm at 595 Market Street, 2nd floor, in San Francisco to recognize the winners at a special program and reception.  Master of Ceremonies for the event will be Jack Boulware, co-founder and co-director of Litquake and the author Gimme Something Better.  For tickets, call 415/597-6705/6706.

"We were so pleased with the outstanding submissions we had this year," noted President and CEO of The Commonwealth Club, Dr. Gloria Duffy. "We are continually in awe of California's brilliant writers and we once again look forward to honoring them at this year’s ceremony." 

Added Wendy Wanderman, Literary Director of The Club, “It was so difficult to select this year’s winners.  We are blessed to nurture such a diverse pool of writers here in California.   We salute all of our finalists and congratulate our winners.”

 “We are pleased to support this celebration for The Commonwealth Club of California’s 81st Annual California Book Awards,” said Paul Wible, Head of Bank of the West’s National Finance Group. “As a 138-year-old California bank with a commitment to education and literacy, we are proud to help showcase our state’s outstanding literary talent.”  

The 81sth Annual California Book Awards ceremony will take place Thursday, Thursday, June 7 at 6 pm at the Commonwealth Club, 595 Market Street in San Francisco. This year’s awards presentation is once again being sponsored by Bank of the West.  The event is open to the public. A gourmet hors d’oeuvres and wine reception will begin at 5:00 p.m., followed by the awards presentation at 6 p.m. A book-signing and dessert reception will take place immediately after the ceremony. 

81st Commonwealth Club California Book Awards Winners:

Gold Medals


Giovanni Singleton, Ascension Published by Counterpath Press


Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino, Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

First Fiction:

Alice LaPlante, Turn of Mind Published by Atlantic Monthly Press


Héctor Tobar, The Barbarian Nurseries Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Joanne Rocklin , One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street Published by Amulet Books

Young Adult:

Maile Meloy, The Apothecary Published by Penguin Young Readers

Contribution to Publishing:

City Lights Publishers, Ten Years that Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-1978; Edited by Chris Carlsson


David Rains Wallace, Chuckwalla Land: The Riddle of California’s Desert  Published by University of CA Press Berkeley and Los Angeles

Silver Medals


Jonathan Lethem, The Ecstasy of Influence: nonfictions, etc. Published by Doubleday


Peter Orner, Love and Shame and Love Published by Little, Brown and Co.


Since 1931, the California Book Awards have honored the exceptional literary merit of California writers and publishers. Each year a select jury considers hundreds of books from around the state in search of the very best in literary achievement.  Eligible books must be written while the author is a resident in California, and must be published during the year under consideration.

The California Book Awards have often been on the vanguard, honoring previously unknown authors who go on to garner national acclaim. John Steinbeck received three gold medals – for Tortilla Flat in 1935, In Dubious Battle in 1936 and The Grapes of Wrath in 1939.

Recent award winners include Jared Diamond, Kay Ryan, Bill Vollman, Joyce Maynard, Andrew Sean Greer, Yiyun Li, Adrienne Rich, Chalmers Johnson, Richard Rodriguez, Michael Chabon, Philip Levine, Rebecca Solnit, Galen Rowell, and Kevin Starr.

Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s oldest and largest public affairs forum, with more than 18,000 members. The Club hosts speeches, debates and discussions on topics of regional, national and international interest.


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