Best Book Award Committee

DATE: 5/26/2008 


Julia Tung (Co-Chair), Miao Jin (Co-Chair), Warren W. Wright, Liu Wen-Ling, Karen Wei, Hong Cheng, Lan Shen.                     

IS THIS AN Interim or annual REPORT? __Interim _x_ Annual


The Best Book Award ad hoc Committee was formed in June, 2005. It became a regular committee in 2008.  The main activities of this Committee are listed in two sections: 

A. During the 2008-2009 term, the Committee activities included:

  1. Opened a BestNewChineseNewBookAward2008  Yahoo Group for members.
  2. Our objective: Every member will participate in all activities. Award selection was assigned to three subgroups:

(1) Adult Group: Julia Tung submitted many new nominations; nominated books were purchased through dealers, borrowed from members or local libraries, or sent from publishers. Members were asked to submit and discuss nominations as well as raise and resolve other relevant issues.

(2) Young Readers and Children Group:  Warren Wright found sources and nominated titles for the juvenile and children's books.

3.  We reviewed last year's documents and made minor changes. The documents used this year are:

      2008-2009 CALA Annual Best Book Award Guidelines, CALA Best Book Award Nomination Form.     

4. The Committee was able to collect 8 titles for Non-fiction, 6 titles for adult, 4 titles for young adults and 2 titles for children.

B. Committee members submitted nominations, and then voted on one for each category.

CALA Best Book Award Nominations 2008-2009:



Author: Hao Jiang Tian
Title: Along the roaring river.
Subtitle: my wild ride from Mao to the Met.

Author: T. June Li
Title: Another world lies beyond
Subtitle: Creating Liu Fang Yuan, the Huntington's Chinese Garden.

Author: Li-young Li
Title: Behind my eyes/Li-young Li. (poetry).

Author: Charles N. Li
Title: The bitter sea
Subtitle: Coming of age in China before Mao.

Author: Ha Jin
Title: The writer as migrant

Author: Leo Ou-fan Lee
Title: City between worlds
Subtitle: My Hong Kong.

Author: Chiou-ling Yeh
Title: Making an American festival
Subtitle: Chinese New Year in San Francisco's Chinatown.

Author: Guoqi Xu and William C. Kirby
Title: Olympic dreams
Subtitle: China and sports, 1895-2008.

Author: Lynn Pan
Title: Shanghai style
Subtitle: Art and Design Between the Wars.


Author: Fae Myenne Ng
Title: Steer toward rock

Author: Francie Lin
Title: The Foreigner

Author: Ginny Gong
Title: From ironing board to corporate board
Subtitle: My Chinese laundry experience in America.

Author: Mingmei Yip
Title: Peach blossom pavilion

Author: Camy Tang
Title: Single sashimi

Author: Henry Chang
Title: Year of the dog

Juvenile Award:

Author: Laurence Yep
Title: Dragon Road

Author: Kim Wong Keltner
Title: I want candy

Author: Moying Li
Title: Snow Falling in Spring
Subtitle: Coming of Age in China during the Cultural Revolution.

Author: Da Chen
Title: Sword/
Subtitle: Jian (Chinese)

Children's Award:

Author: Icy Smith
Title: Mei Ling in China City

Author: Grace Lin
Bringing in the New Year

CALA Best Book Award Winners:
Adult Non-Fiction
: The writer as migrant

Adult Fiction: Steer toward rock

 Juvenile Award: Dragon Road

Children's Award: Mei Ling in China City

The writer as migrant:

Ha Jin's journey raises rich and fascinating questions about language, migration, and the place of literature in a rapidly globalizing world-questions that take center stage in The Writer as Migrant, his first work of nonfiction. Consisting of three interconnected essays, this book sets Ha Jin's own work and life alongside those of other literary exiles, creating a conversation across cultures and between eras. He employs the cases of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Chinese novelist Lin Yutang to illustrate the obligation a writer feels to the land of his birth, while Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov-who, like Ha Jin, adopted English for their writing-are enlisted to explore a migrant author's conscious choice of a literary language. A final essay draws on V. S. Naipaul and Milan Kundera to consider the ways in which our era of perpetual change forces a migrant writer to reconceptualize the very idea of home. Throughout, Jin brings other celebrated writers into the conversation as well, including W. G. Sebald, C. P. Cavafy, and Salman Rushdie-refracting and refining the very idea of a literature of migration.

Steer Toward Rock:

Steer Toward Rock, Fae Myenne Ng's heartbreaking novel of unrequited love, tells the story of the only bachelor butcher at the Universal Market in San Francisco. Jack Moon Szeto-that was the name he bought, the name he made his life by-serves the lonely grass widows whose absentee husbands work the farmlands in the Central Valley. A man who knows that the body is the only truth, Jack attends to more than just their weekly orders of lamb or beef. Not since Bone, Fae Myenne Ng's highly praised debut novel, has a work so eloquently revealed the complex loyalties of Chinese America. Steer Toward Rock is the story of a man who chooses love over the law, illuminating a part of U.S. history few are aware of, but one that has had echoing effects for generations.

Dragon Road:

Best friends Cal and Barney are down and out in Chinatown. In the America of 1939, they are trapped by invisible barriers created by racial prejudice. With no jobs and no real homes, it's only their wizardry with a basketball that's let them survive this long. That same skill suddenly flings a door open to fame and fortune when a professional basketball team, the Dragons, invites them to join the team. Soon they're barnstorming across America and taking on all comers-from local amateurs to other professional teams like the Harlem Globetrotters. Inspired by the pioneering professional Chinese American basketball team the Hong Wah Kues, Newbery Honor author Laurence Yep re-creates a colorful era of barnstorming basketball and leads readers through the heartache and glory of the dragon road.

Mei Ling in China City:

Based on a true story of events during World War II in Los Angeles China City, a 12-year-old Chinese American girl named Mei Ling Lee loses her best friend Yayeko Akiyama when she and her family were interned in the Manzanar War Relocation Center. By writing letters to each other, both young girls recount their painful separation and their lives in China City and Manzanar. The vivid watercolor paintings warmly portray the real scenes of the forgotten China City in Los Angeles and Manzanar. This unprecedented children's book depicts the hardships and cross-cultural experiences of Americans of Chinese and Japanese ancestry during the war years. Close to 50 never-before-published paintings and historical photographs of China City are presented for the first time.