Skip to main content

2021 CALA Best Book Award Recipients

It is the pleasure of our committee to announce the winners of the 2021 CALA Best Book Awards:

2021 CALA Best Book Awards

Fiction Category:

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

New York : Pantheon Books, 2020.

ISBN: 9780307907196

“Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as the protagonist in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but always he is relegated to a prop. Yet every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. Or is it? After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family. Infinitely inventive and deeply personal, exploring the themes of pop culture, assimilation, and immigration—Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet.” - Publisher description

Non-Fiction Category:

Chinatown Pretty by Andria Lo and Valerie Luu

San Francisco, Calif. : Chronicle Books LLC, 2020.

ISBN: 9781452175836

“Chinatown Pretty features beautiful portraits and heartwarming stories of trend-setting seniors across six Chinatowns. Andria Lo and Valerie Luu have been interviewing and photographing Chinatown’s most fashionable elders on their blog and Instagram, Chinatown Pretty, since 2014. Chinatown Pretty is a signature style worn by pòh pohs (grandmas) and gùng gungs (grandpas) everywhere—but it’s also a life philosophy, mixing resourcefulness, creativity, and a knack for finding joy even in difficult circumstances. Chinatown Pretty shares nuggets of philosophical wisdom and personal stories about immigration and Chinese American culture.” - Publisher description

Children Category:

Your Place in the Universe by Jason Chin

New York City : Holiday House, 2020.

ISBN: 9780823446230

“Most eight-year-olds are about five times as tall as this book . . . but only half as tall as an ostrich, which is half as tall as a giraffe . . . twenty times smaller than a California Redwood! How do they compare to the tallest buildings? To Mt. Everest? To stars, galaxy clusters, and . . . the universe?

Jason Chin, the award-winning author and illustrator of Grand Canyon has once again found a way to make a complex subject–size, scale and almost unimaginable distance–accessible and understandable to readers of all ages. Meticulously researched and featuring the highly detailed artwork for which he is renowned, this is How Much is a Million for the new millennium, sure to be an immediate hit with kids looking for an engaging way to delve into perspective, astronomy, and astrophysics. Curious readers will love the extensive supplementary material included in the back of the back of the book.” - Publisher description

Juvenile Category:

No books met the Best Book Award criteria, this year.

In total, the 2021 CALA Best Book Awards Committee received 25 nominations. Votes were cast for each category after evaluation and feedback from committee members.

2021 CALA Best Book Award Committee:

Clara Tran, co-chair

Joanne Chern, member

Jen Woo, co-chair