A “national treasure”: Malcolm Margolin honored by National Endowment for the Humanities

Malcolm MargolinNational Endowment for the Humanities to honor Heyday publisher Malcolm Margolin with Chairman’s Commendation

Award presented by Chairman Jim Leach to celebrate forty years of contributions to California history and culture

San Francisco, CA (March 28, 2012) – The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will honor longtime Berkeley publisher Malcolm Margolin with the Chairman’s Commendation, a national award to be presented by Chairman Jim Leach this Thursday, March 29, 2012, at a private ceremony at The Athenaeum in Pasadena, CA.

The National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman’s Commendation is given to Americans who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities through leadership in bridging cultures, preserving our human legacy, or in other fields of humanistic endeavor, including history, literature, religion, philosophy, jurisprudence and specialized areas of the social sciences. The only other such recipient was scholar and historian Philip Lampi in 2012.

Ralph Lewin, president and CEO of Cal Humanities, commented on Margolin’s receipt of the Commendation, “Malcolm Margolin deserves this national recognition for his extraordinary vision, commitment and passion for deepening our awareness of what it means to be Californian, American and, ultimately, what it means to be human. Margolin brings a serious and jubilant lifelong commitment to publishing that has shaped our fundamental understanding of the people and places that make up California. He is a national treasure and it is good to see him recognized as such.”

Ralph Lewin, Malcolm Margolin, Jim Leach

Malcolm Margolin is executive director of Heyday, an independent nonprofit publisher and unique cultural institution founded in 1974, when Margolin wrote, typeset, designed, and distributed The East Bay Out, an affectionate guide to the natural history of the hills and bayshore around Berkeley and Oakland. Today Heyday publishes about twenty-five books a year that help preserve and celebrate a knowledge of a deep, authentic, soulful California, sharing stories that might not otherwise be heard.

While some of Heyday’s authors are world-renowned (Gary Snyder, Robert Hass, Rebecca Solnit, Ursula LeGuin, Wallace Stegner, et al.), Margolin has always believed that a primary purpose of the press is to provide a platform for voices that would otherwise go unheard, hence seeking out a mix of books that explore California history, natural history, literature, art, and ethnic diversity from perspectives found nowhere else.

Margolin himself is the author of several books, including The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco–Monterey Bay Area, named by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the hundred most important books of the twentieth century by a western writer. He has received dozens of prestigious awards, including the Cultural Freedom Award from the Lannan Foundation.

Recent literary developments at Heyday

The past two years have been especially fruitful for the Berkeley publisher. In a renewed dedication to bringing lesser-known literary voices to light, Heyday created the James D. Houston Award in 2011 to honor the legacy of the California writer, known both for his mastery of fiction and nonfiction genres and for his dedication as a teacher and passionate promoter of emerging authors. The award supports publication of books by writers who reflect Jim’s humane values, his thoughtful engagement with life, and his literary exploration of California, Hawai‘i, and the West. The first award winner will be Mariah K. Young’s Masha’allah and Other Stories, to be released November 2012.

Also in 2011, Margolin developed a new annual literary anthology entitled New California Writing with the help of acquisitions and editorial director Gayle Wattawa and longtime sales consultant George Young. New California Writing aims to collect fresh and thought-provoking writing about California published in the previous year, culled from magazines, blogs, zines, and books, from both major and small publishers. The second installment is due out next month and will feature work by established writers—including Jon Carroll, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Caitlin Flanagan, Michael Pollan, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Francesca Lia Block—standing alongside that of emerging writers—among them Eric Puchner, Daniel Olivas, Rebecca K. O’Connor, and Manuel Muñoz. Launch parties are scheduled for Los Angeles and San Francisco, at Libros Schmibros in Boyle Heights and the California Historical society respectively.

Community outreach, events, and a new bookstore

In addition to publishing books, Heyday sponsors over two hundred outreach events throughout the state, offers educational programs on California culture, history, art, and nature, and works with museums to create exhibits based on the books. With an emphasis on collaboration, Heyday publishes books with many of California’s most significant cultural institutions, among them UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, the Cal Humanities, the California Academy of Sciences, and Audubon.

Heyday recently announced the launch of Ten Lions, a new bookstore and community space developed in partnership with the California Historical Society at their newly refurbished building, located at 678 Mission Street in San Francisco. The two organizations have had a close working relationship for over twenty years, including cofounding the California Historical Society Press; copublishing books such as Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience, now in its seventh printing; cooperating on several exhibits, such as At Work: The Art of California Labor; and cohosting a number of public events.

California Indian Publishing Program

One of Margolin’s goals has been to preserve and celebrate California Indian culture. Heyday has published more than forty books on California Indian culture and history and, since 1987, has also published a quarterly magazine, News from Native California, which is read avidly on Indian reservations and in universities alike, prompting the Los Angeles Times to characterize it as probably having “the widest literacy range of any periodical in the Western Hemisphere.”

About the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. For more information visit www.neh.gov.

About Heyday

Heyday is an independent, nonprofit publisher and unique cultural institution that promotes widespread awareness and celebration of California’s many cultures, landscapes, and boundary-breaking ideas. Heyday publishes about 25 new books a year, sponsors over 200 events, and participates vigorously in the cultural life of California. For more information visit www.heydaybooks.com..

For images and more information, please contact Natalie Mulford at natalie@heydaybooks.com, or by phone at (510) 549-3564, ext. 309.