News | October 28, 2020

The Book Club of CA Announces 2020 Oscar Lewis Awards

San Francisco — The Book Club of California congratulates the recipients of the 2020 Oscar Lewis Awards: John Briscoe for his contributions to Western History, and Mary Austin & Kathleen Burch for their contributions to the Book Arts.

2020 Oscar Lewis Award for Western History—John Briscoe, author of Crush: The Triumph of California Wine

John Briscoe is a poet, author, restaurateur, San Francisco lawyer, and board member of the Historical Society of the United States District Court in San Francisco. His historical publications include two books, Tadich Grill: The Story of San Francisco’s Oldest Restaurant and Crush: The Triumph of California Wine. He has also written and published scholarly essays on historical California figures such as Garret W. McEnerney, Stefan A. Riesenfeld, and Louis F. Claiborne, and he contributed to the definitive history of the San Francisco District Court, the oldest federal court in the West.

Crush is the vividly told story of how California wine gained global recognition. Briscoe recounts wine’s usual relationship with California from the very first vintage through multiple calamities to its startling triumph at a blind tasting in Paris in 1976. Through this innovative perspective, Briscoe profiles the larger story of California. Briscoe has, through verve and a distinctive flair for writing, made California’s past accessible to a broad audience. Crush has won numerous awards and is destined to become a classic not only of wine literature but also of California’s history, people, and culture.                                                                                                                            

2020 Oscar Lewis Award for the Book Arts—Mary Austin & Kathleen Burch, co-founders of the San Francisco Center for the Book

In 1996, Mary Austin and Kathleen Burch co-founded the San Francisco Center for the Book. Its letterpress and bookbinding studios, workshops, exhibitions, and events serve thousands of students and book workers each year. Austin, an Ohio native, graduated from Wellesley College in 1982 and helped start The Museum of Printing History in Houston, TX and the San Francisco museum Explore Print!, which she also directed. Austin has been an advocate of fine printing and the book arts for over 35 years. She is an artist, book collector, philanthropist, and proprietor of the Underground Press. Burch, a native of Vallejo, CA, graduated from Mills College in 1973 and founded Burch Typografica, a San Francisco type and design studio, in 1979. A past president of the BCC, she serves on the board of the Internet Archive and was a Xerox PARC artist-in-residence. She is active in the keepsake culture of California and designed the BCC’s Centennial programs of 2012 and the M.F.K. Fisher keepsake of 2008, both major Book Club keepsakes.

These two women have built a community of book arts training and appreciation that is truly unequalled. Countless people in the Bay Area and beyond are endlessly grateful to them for what they have so generously created.