2024 Authors Gala

Featured Guest Authors

Get to know our Literary Stars, local authors who will attend our Authors Gala. Guests will have the opportunity to dine with these authors at this one-of-a-kind event!

Bay Area author H.J. Brennan’s second novel This Then is What Counts, published in January, follows a year-long love affair by an unlikely couple forced into a tragic odyssey. It has been hailed as an “epic story of complicated love, its risky decisions, and its lingering aftermath.” It follows his 2018 debut novel Fathers’ Day, a tale of family tragedy, resilience and hope in a central Pennsylvania town. Brennan was raised in a Pennsylvania Rust Belt river town. He taught in inner-city public school and motorcycled many of the west’s two-lane blacktops. One critic described him as having “the ear of a jazz musician and the voice of a poet.”

Educated at U.C. Berkeley and Stanford, Charles L. Crow is the author of numerous books about American regional literature and the American Gothic tradition. His titles include the 1983 The Occult in America: New Historical Perspectives and the 2012 anthology American Gothic: From Salem Witchcraft to H.P. Lovecraft.




Katie Hafner is a journalist and author who has worked at the New York Times, Computerworld, Business Week and Newsweek and published extensively elsewhere. She is the co-author of two seminal books about technology: Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier with John Markhoff and Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet with Matthew Lyon. She has also written about modern Germany, concert pianist Glenn Gould and living in San Francisco with her mother and daughter. Her 2022 debut novel The Boys was described by the New York Times as, “travel escapism, a family drama, a character study, social commentary on pandemic isolation and an incredible journey back to center.”



Dr. Monica Gandhi is a Professor of Medicine at UCSF. She is also the Director of the UCSF Center for AIDS Research and the Medical Director of the famous “Ward 86” HIV Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she became an active participant in the public dialogue about how to deal with the disease. Her 2023 book Endemic: A Post-Pandemic Playbook assesses society’s response to the crisis and offers a ten-point plan for dealing with the next pandemic. It has been hailed as “an essential addition to the COVID literature.”



Bay Area attorney Katherine Lin’s debut novel You Can’t Stay Here Forever was hailed by the New York Times Book Review as, “a subtle, character-driven story about interracial marriage.” NPR adds that, “Lin…has complicated things to say about privilege and its intersection with race, ambition and identity.”



Adam Mansbach‘s new novel The Golem of Brooklyn is an epic, ferociously funny romp through Jewish history and the American present that wrestles with the deepest questions of our humanity. Mansbach is the author of three previous novels Rage is Back, The End of the Jews (winner of the California Book Award) and Angry Black White Boy, and the memoir-in-verse I Had a Brother Once. With Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel, he co-authored For This We Left Egypt? and the bestselling A Field Guide to the Jewish People. The screenwriter of the acclaimed Netflix Original film Barry, Mansbach is also the founder of the 1990s hip hop journal Elementary, and a former drum tech for the legendary drummer Elvin Jones. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times Book Review, Esquire and The Guardian, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, The Moth and This American Life.



Over her fifty-year career, best-selling author Joyce Maynard has published twelve novels, five books of nonfiction including the memoir At Home in the World, and hundreds of essays. Her novels To Die For and Labor Day were both adapted for film. Her 2023 novel The Bird Hotel has been hailed as “a rich ensemble novel about endurance, courage, healing and the salvation of human generosity. ” Her next novel, How the Light Gets In, will be published in June. In this eagerly anticipated sequel to Count the Ways, Maynard continues her saga of three generations of a complex family and its matriarch Eleanor that explores some of the key issues at the center of our national  conversation in this presidential election year.



Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is director of research and innovation at 4 Day Week Global, a nonprofit promoting the 4-day workweek. His books  Shorter: Work Better, Smarter and Less— Here’s How (2020); Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less (2016), and The Distraction Addiction (2013)— show how companies and individuals can better integrate rest, creativity, and focus into people’s lives and work in the digital age. Alex has given talks around the world on the future of technology and work, in venues ranging from the CIA headquarters in Langley, to the Globe Theatre in London, to the Googleplex in Silicon Valley. He has been a fellow or visiting researcher at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Cambridge, and Oxford University. 



Susanne Pari’s 2023 novel, In the Time of Our History, examines the entangled lives of an Iranian-American family grappling with generational culture clashes and the rebellion of its women. Born in New Jersey to an Iranian father and an American mother, Pari grew up in the United States and Iran until the 1979 Islamic revolution forced her family into permanent exile.



Retired Judge Lise Pearlman is an award-winning author of five history books and producer of the Oscar- nominated documentary “American Justice on Trial”. She lives in Oakland with her husband, San Francisco bankruptcy lawyer Peter Benvenutti. One of their three adult daughters, Jamie Benvenutti, served as her chief research assistant for Pearlman’s acclaimed 2020 true crime book, The Lindbergh Kidnapping Suspect No. 1, The Man Who Got Away.



A Distinguished Affiliated Scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Law and Society and co-founder of the Berkeley Truth and Justice Project, Tony Platt is the author of 13 books and 150 essays and articles on race, inequality and social justice in America. His 2023 book The Scandal at Cal: Land Grabs, White Supremacy and miseducation at UC Berkeley chronicles the university’s problematic history of racism, disrespect for indigenous cultures and involvement with the military-industrial complex.



Nigel Poor & Earlonne Woods are co-creators and co-hosts of the podcast Ear Hustle, launched in 2017 as the first podcast created and produced in prison, featuring stories of the daily realities of life inside California’s San Quentin State Prison. Ear Hustle was named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for audio reporting in 2020, for bringing audiences “a consistently surprising and beautifully crafted series on life behind bars.” Nigel and Earlonne co-authored This Is Ear Hustle: Unflinching Stories of Everyday Prison Life, a book inspired by their podcast.



Novelist Nina Schuyler’s sweeping, impassioned short story collection, In This Ravishing World, scheduled for publication this July, brings together a cast of dreamers, escapists, activists and artists in a series of interconnected tales creating a kaleidoscopic view of the climate crisis. It’s been hailed as “a full-throated chorus, with Nature joining in, marveling at the exquisite beauty of our world and urging everyone toward activism and resistance.” She is the author of three prize-winning novels, Afterword (2023), The Translator (2013) and The Painting (2004). She teaches creative writing at Stanford Continuing Studies.



Leta McCollough Seletzky is a National Endowment for the Arts 2022 Creative Writing Fellow whose essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine and elsewhere. A former litigator, she is the author of the father-daughter memoir The Kneeling Man: My Father’s Life as a Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., a Library Journal Best Book of 2023.



Bay Area attorney Parini Shroff’s 2023 debut novel The Bandit Queens was hailed in the New York Times Book Review as, “a radically feel-good story about the murder of no-good husbands by a cast of unsinkable women.” NPR calls it a “laugh-out-loud novel that explores caste, domestic abuse and murder.” Parini received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied under Elizabeth McCracken, Alexander Chee, and Cristina García.



Emma Bland Smith is a public librarian and the award-winning author of many books for children including The Gardener of Alcatraz; Claude: The True Story of a White Alligator; How Science Saved the Eiffel Tower and The Fabulous Fannie Farmer: Kitchen Scientist and America’s Cook, which was published in January. Emma writes primarily narrative nonfiction picture books about people, places, and animals. The Gardener of Alcatraz is a 2024-5 finalist for the California Young Reader Medal.



El Cerrito poet, essayist, critic and gardener Tess Taylor writes about place, ecology, memory and cultural reckoning.  She has published five poetry collections: The Misremembered World, The Forage House, Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange, Rift Zone, and Work & Days. Her work as a cultural critic appears in in Harpers Magazine, The Atlantic, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The Times Literary Supplement, and The New York Times. Last year she published her first full-length poetry anthology Leaning Toward Light: Poems for Gardens and the Hands that Tend Them, a collection of contemporary gardening poems for an era of climate crisis.



Anna Voloshyna is a Ukrainian-American chef and author of the highly-acclaimed cookbook BUDMO! Recipes from a Ukrainian Kitchen. Voloshyna completed the San Francisco Cooking School’s rigorous Culinary Arts program and has been featured in top food publications like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.



Darren Walton’s riveting memoir Di Di Mau recounts his tour of duty as a U.S. Marine during the Vietnam War. The VVA Veteran magazine hails it as “an introspective, worthy addition to the ever-growing American Vietnam War veteran memoir canon.” Walton is a Marin County native and resident. He is an avid long-distance runner who led the first group of over-seventy runners to compete in the grueling Hood to Coast run in Oregon.



Dallas Woodburn is the best-selling author of seven books, including the short story collection How to Make Paper When the World is Ending and the young adult novel The Best Week That Never Happened. Her novel Before & After You & Me and her nonfiction book 1,001 Ways to be Kind are both forthcoming this year. A former John  Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing, Dallas has received the Cypress & Pine Short Fiction Award, the international Glass Woman Prize, and the Dante Rossetti Book Award for Young Adult Fiction. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Writer’s Digest, American Fiction and elsewhere.




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