Alta Journal’s California Book Club, launched in October 2020, took off this year. Our membership exploded into the thousands, and we invited 12 incredible writers to share their wisdom and talents. In addition to our monthly Zoom gatherings with the authors of our book picks, we delivered a weekly newsletter and presented critical essays about our selected titles to members. Early in 2021, we welcomed CBC assistant editor, Rasheeda Saka, who wrote award-winning critical pieces on our selections, followed by author Anita Felicelli, who as CBC editor has gathered countless new voices to contribute to the CBC’s literary community. Check out our editors’ picks of the best pieces related to a groundbreaking past year for the CBC.
City Lights’ Paul Yamazaki explains why readers love Elaine Castillo’s writing.
Paul Beatty wrote and published The Sellout during the Obama administration. Rasheeda Saka discusses what this means.
Rasheeda Saka writes about how Nina Revoyr’s eye for historical detail elevates the murder mystery at the heart of Southland.
Rasheeda Saka considers the historical context of Myriam Gurba’s 2017 memoir.
Rasheeda Saka discusses silence as it affects characters in The Mars Room and different groups in society.
For Robin Coste Lewis, our June author, poetry is like sitting on the rim of a mirror.
CBC host John Freeman writes about how the enduring power of William Finnegan’s memoir depends on far more than a passion for surfing.
CBC selection panelist Danzy Senna interviews Dana Johnson about her novel, Elsewhere, California, and its relationship to place.
Writer Katharine Coldiron demonstrates how a Hollywood account of a disaster utopia gets it right according to Rebecca Solnit’s thesis.
Author May-lee Chai recognizes herself in books for the first time in Maxine Hong Kingston’s groundbreaking memoir of Asian American girlhood.
Ajay Orona discusses how certain insights from Tommy Orange’s debut novel about Urban Indians in Oakland resound across stories of the Armenian genocide as well.
Author Elizabeth Gonzalez James analyzes the impending financial doom that gives Héctor Tobar’s novel its tension.