Mariah K. Young First Winner of the James D. Houston Award

Mariah K. Young

Mariah K. Young

Heyday pronounced emerging author Mariah K. Young the first recipient of the James D. Houston Award on Saturday, September 17, 2011, at the Savory Thymes “Adventure in the Garden” event in Mill Valley, CA. On hand to celebrate were publisher Malcolm Margolin, author Maxine Hong Kingston, poet Al Young, and surfer Sam Hiona. Ukulele music by Ka‘ala Carmack accompanied hula dancer Michael Yamashita, and a live auction was emceed by Scoop Nisker featuring “once-in-a-lifetime Heyday experiences.” Houston’s wife, Jeanne, and two of their children, Cori and Joshua, were also present.

Known as a masterful writer in both fiction and nonfiction genres, Houston authored more than twenty books, among them Bird of Another Heaven, Where Light Takes Its Color from the Sea, Gig, and Farewell to Manzanar, the last of which he co-authored with his wife, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. Jim was also a dedicated teacher and passionate promoter of emerging authors. He died in April 2009. The award in his honor comes with a $5,000 advance and publication by Heyday.

Award winner Mariah K. Young’s debut collection, Masha’alla and Other Stories, will be published by Heyday in November 2012. The book is a captivating short story collection that brings readers deep into the varied lives of remarkable individuals at the fringes of dominant culture. Set in the lively and unpredictable landscape of East Oakland, Young’s subtly crafted stories and unforgettable characters continually surprise and delight as she invites us into the worlds of diverse cast of genuine, hard-working people: from a hired driver who gets more than he bargains for with an unusual cab fare, to a day laborer whose daily search for work leads him to the edges of human sacrifice and hope, to a plucky house cleaner named Chinta who sets up impromptu beauty parlors in the houses she cleans, and many more.

Malcolm Margolin, founder, publisher, and executive director of Heyday, says of the first award winner, “This courageous work bursts with literary power. Fresh, honest, and exuding warmth, it cuts straight to the heart of modern lives, reflecting our unflagging allegiances to love, family, luck, and hope. We are proud to publish Young’s first book and help launch the career of someone sure to become a significant writer in the years ahead.”

On being chosen as the recipient of the award, Mariah K. Young says, “It’s an incredible honor to have my writing become a part of Houston’s legacy; I feel not unlike a sapling burgeoning from the seeds of a grand and magnificent tree. I am humbled, grateful, and excited to receive this award, and to continue exploring [in my writing both] California and our American experience, with its many gilded and golden dreams.”

About Mariah K. Young

Mariah K. Young was born in Alameda, CA, and spent her childhood living in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Lahaina, HI. She graduated with an English degree from California State University, East Bay, where she won the first annual RV Williams prize for fiction. In 2008, she earned her MFA from UC Riverside, and that same year, she attended the Squaw Valley Writers’ workshop on fellowship. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches writing and is working on a novel.

About the James D. Houston Award

While known to the reading public as a writer, Jim Houston was also a dedicated teacher and passionate promoter of emerging authors. Upon his death, friends and family of the Santa Cruz author established a fund to honor his memory and further his legacy. Nominations and decisions as to which writers to support will be made collegially by Heyday’s publisher, Malcolm Margolin; by the Houston family, represented by Jim’s wife, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston; and by friends of the late author. Heyday will publish, distribute, and promote the books selected and is committed to matching donations on a dollar-to-dollar basis from funds of its own. For more information on the James D. Houston Award, visit