New fiction books, from Bay Area and Northern California authors, listed by release date


All Friends are Necessary

By Tomas Moníz (Oakland)
Algonquin Books (June 11, 2024)

Thirty-seven-year-old Efren “Chino” Flores fled to the Bay Area from Washington State because he couldn’t come to terms with his wife’s miscarriage. Wallowing in sadness, he sublets an apartment in San Francisc’s Mission District and finds connections with friends and lovers, both male and female. Moníz, whose first novel “Big Familia,” was a finalist for a PEN/Hemingway and a Lambda Debut Novel Award, traces Chino’s path to a renewed sense of self in “All Friends Are Necessary.” The journey, filled with twists and turns, love and heartache, takes him from San Francisco to Guerneville and finally to Oakland, where the former middle school biology teacher finds satisfaction in creating a nature educational institute.


By Robin Sloan (Berkeley)
MCD (June 11, 2024)

Here’s how Robin Sloan, the author of the bestselling “Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstoredescribes his new book: “The year is 13777. There are dragons on the moon.” With those intriguing words, Sloan takes his fans to a world where wizards rule and epic quests are de rigor. “Moonbound” a mix of science fiction and fantasy, centers around Ariel, who finds an artifact from an earlier civilization. It’s an artificial intelligence device (and the book’s narrator) that contains knowledge of all of human civilization. Ariel is thrust into a quest where he must confront unknown enemies to save the world.


Regina of Warsaw: Love, Loss and Liberation

By Geri Spieler (Palo Alto)
Speaking Volumes LLC (June 17, 2024)

Geri Spieler, author of Housewife Assassin, a nonfiction book about Sarah Jane Moore, the would-be assassin of President Gerald Ford, turns to fiction in her debut “Regina of Warsaw.” Drawing on her grandmother's life, Spieler portrays a Polish woman who breaks female norms. The novel opens in Bialystok in 1906 when Regina Anuszewicz is visiting her sister at her boarding house. Suddenly, in an anti-Jewish pogrom, stormtroopers swarm the streets, forcing Regina to hide in a closet. Regina survives but the trauma pushes her to take a more active role in fighting antisemitism, a journey that eventually brings her to America.


Daughter of Calamity

By Rosalie M. Lin
St. Martin’s Press (June 18, 2024)

Rosalie M. Lin’s fascination with nightlife is reflected in her fantasy/ sci-fi novel, “Daughter of Calamity,” set in 1930s Shanghai. Jingwen is a showgirl at the Paramount nightclub, one of the most lavish in the city. During the day, she helps her grandmother, an acclaimed surgeon. When dancers are attacked and their faces reattached to wealthy foreign socialites, Jingwen fears for her safety. To save herself, she must delve into the city’s underbelly, mingle with gangsters and gamblers and discover her own unknown inner strength.

New nonfiction books, from Bay Area and Northern California authors, listed by release date

BoyMom: Reimagining Boyhood in the Age of Impossible Masculinity

By Ruth Whippman (Berkeley)
Harmony (June 4, 2024)

When Berkeley writer Ruth Whippman was nine months pregnant, her mail carrier stopped to talk. Seeing Whippman’s two sons playing nearby, the mail carrier said she hoped the next child would be a girl. Since the child was conceived through in vitro fertilization, Whippman and her husband knew they were having a third son. So begins “BoyMom,” a book combining memoir, reporting, and cultural criticism to explore the state of masculinity today. Men may rule the world, but in the age of #Metoo, they are also vilified, Whippman contends. They kill themselves at a rate nearly four times as high as their female peers. They are lonely. Whippman examines her own and society’s assumptions about how to raise sons to give them a healthy sense of self and an ability to empathize, rather than scorn.


Stories Are Weapons: Psychological Warfare and the American Mind

By AnnaLee Newitz (Berkeley)
W.W Norton (June 4, 2024)

Psychological warfare — the art of telling stories to win allies and frighten allies — has long been a part of warfare. Science journalist and science fiction author AnnaLee Newitz’s new book “Stories Are Weapons,” traces the history of psyops and how it brainwashes ordinary people. We all know about fake news articles spewing misinformation about COVID-19 and the 2020 election. But negative propaganda is part of the American DNA, Newitz points out. Benjamin Franklin published fake articles about British atrocities in the Revolutionary War. Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays, heralded as the creator of public relations, used advertising to convince women to smoke in the 1920s and subversive messaging in the 1950s to help overthrow the government of Guatemala. Filled with fascinating examples of psyops, Newitz also presents researchers and activists working for psychological disarmament and cultural peace.

Life Span: Impressions of a Lifetime Spent Crossing and Recrossing the Golden Gate Bridge

By Molly Giles, (Woodacre)
WTAW Press (June 4, 2024)

Molly Giles has been driving over the Golden Gate Bridge between Marin County and San Francisco all her life. After decades of writing award-winning short stories and novels and teaching at SF State, she turns her gaze on herself in “Life Span.” Instead of a traditional memoir, Giles has written a collection of flash memoir pieces about crossing the bridge. The first piece takes place in 1945 when she is three. Her father has just returned from fighting in World War II and Giles is excited about riding in a moving van but shy about talking to a father she barely knows. The book ends when Giles is a grandmother driving her 21-year-old granddaughter from Amsterdam across the bridge in a rainstorm, loving her but wondering how their generations are so different. In between there are almost-accident, love and drama.


Crossing the Desert: The Power of Embracing Life’s Difficult Journeys

By Payam Zamani (Alamo)
BenBella Books (June 18, 2024)

In 1987, when he was 16, Payam Zamani fled Iran. His parents, members of the persecuted Baha’i faith, had paid smugglers to whisk him 1,500 miles to escape religious persecution. He came to the U.S. and, in a Horatio Alger story, started a billion-dollar internet company with his brother. Then the story took a twist. The company, AutoWeb, tanked in the 1990 tech bubble meltdown. “Crossing the Desert,” recounts that story and Zamani’s rebound — he now heads up the successful One Planet Group — and his determination to combine aspects of his religion with his future business endeavors. The book, part memoir, party business tome, part spiritual guide extolls a more humane type of capitalism, one where taking care of employees, customers, communities, and the planet is as important as making a profit.