A panel of six distinguished literary figures from across the state will join host John Freeman to select titles for the California Book Club: journalist and author Lynell George, UCLA professor Marissa López, novelist and essayist Danzy Senna, Alta books editor and author David L. Ulin, ZYZZYVA managing editor Oscar Villalon, and City Lights Booksellers lead buyer Paul Yamazaki.
John Freeman is the editor of Freeman’s, a literary annual published by Grove Press, the latest theme of which is California. He has written several books of nonfiction, including How to Read a Novelist and Dictionary of the Undoing, as well as two collections of poems, Maps and The Park. The former editor of Granta, he is now artist in residence at New York University and the executive editor of Literary Hub. Between 2014 and 2020, he edited a series of anthologies on inequality, concluding with Tales of Two Planets, which focuses on the climate crisis and global inequality. Freeman’s work has been translated into more than 20 languages and appears in the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and ZYZZYVA. Raised in Sacramento, he lives in New York.
Lynell George is an award-winning journalist and essayist based in Los Angeles. She has been a staff writer for L.A. Weekly and the Los Angeles Times. Her work has appeared in Smithsonian, Vibe, the Washington Post, Essence, Ms., and other publications. She has also provided arts commentary for KCET’s Artbound and KPCC’s The Frame. She is the author of No Crystal Stair: African-Americans in the City of Angels (Verso/Doubleday) and After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame, a collection of her essays and photographs published by Angel City Press. She is the recipient of a 2017 Grammy Award for her liner notes for Otis Redding Live at the Whisky a Go Go and a Los Angeles Press Club prize in 2020 for Feature Writing. Her new book, A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler, will be published by Angel City Press in October 2020.
Marissa López is a professor of English and Chicana/o studies at UCLA, researching Chicanx literature from the 19th century to the present, with an emphasis on 19th-century Mexican California. She has written two books: Chicano Nations (NYU Press, 2011), about nationalism and Chicanx literature from the early 1800s to post-9/11, and Racial Immanence (NYU Press, 2019), which explores uses of the body and affect in Chicanx cultural production. She recently completed a yearlong residency at the Los Angeles Public Library as a Scholars & Society fellow with the American Council of Learned Societies, during which she worked to collaboratively develop a mobile app, Picturing Mexican America, that uses geodata to display images of Mexican California relevant to a user’s location.
Danzy Senna is the author of five books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels Caucasia, Symptomatic, and, most recently, New People, named one of the best books of the year by Time, Vogue, and the New York Times. Senna is a recipient of the Whiting Award and the Dos Passos Prize for Literature. She teaches creative writing at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles.
David L. Ulin is Alta’s books editor. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, short-listed for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a California Book Award. Most recently, he edited Didion: The 1960s & 70s and the forthcoming Didion: The 1980s & 90s for the Library of America. The former book editor and book critic of the Los Angeles Times, he has written for the Atlantic, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Paris Review, and the New York Times. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lannan Foundation and teaches at the University of Southern California.
Oscar Villalon is the managing editor of ZYZZYVA. His writing has appeared in the Believer, Freeman’s, Literary Hub, Alta, Zocalo Public Square, and other publications. A longtime member of the National Book Critics Circle, he has twice served on fiction juries for the Pulitzer Prize. From 2002 to 2008, he was the book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle.
Paul Yamazaki is the principal buyer at City Lights Booksellers, where he has been a bookseller since 1970. Yamazaki has served on the board of directors of several literary and community arts organizations; among them are the Council of Literary Magazines & Presses, Small Press Distribution, and the Kearny Street Workshop. Yamazaki was a jury member for Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists 2 and was on the jury for the 2014 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. He is a recipient of the Litquake Barbary Coast Award.