The Book Club of California wishes to congratulate the recipients of its 2020 Oscar Lewis Awards: John Briscoe for his contributions to Western History, and Mary Austin & Kathleen Burch for their contributions to the Book Arts.
Here’s the dope on Briscoe:
He’s the author of Crush: The Triumph of California Wine, which vividly tells the 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.
Mary Austin & Kathleen Burch, are 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.
According to spokesmen, “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.”
The Book Club of California established the Oscar Lewis Awards in 1994 to honor the prolific and popular San Francisco writer-historian who served as Book Club secretary from 1921 to 1946.
The list of this year’s nominees was impressive—all were highly accomplished and deserving of the award—but in the end the awards committee felt the contributions of John Briscoe and Mary Austin & Kathleen Burch best represented the tenets of the award and the mission of the Book Club of California to preserve and promote the history of the book and the books arts, with a focus on the history and literature of California and the West.
The 2020 Oscar Lewis Awards will be awarded in private due to the ongoing global pandemic and shelter-in-place restrictions. A public ceremony will be scheduled when gatherings are permitted.
For more information about the Book Club of California and its activities, Cultural Currents readers may visit the website at www.bccbooks.org.