Dave Eggers is a former Pulitzer Prize finalist and in 2012 was a fiction finalist for the California Book Award with “A Hologram for the King.” Eggers moved to Berkeley from Boston as a young man after his parents each died at about age 50 from cancer and his work, sometimes humor, serves humanitarian interests. Eggers take particular interest in those wrongfully accused by the justice system. Eggers published “Surviving Justice: America’s Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated” about those on death row and then freed. He worked with Lola Vollen, a doctor concerned with human rights’ abuses who was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Eggers also wrote about a Muslim man helping in New Orleans after Katrina who was arrested, jailed and abused. His early work, a memoir, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” was about raising his younger brother in San Francisco after the early death of his parents from cancer. The memoir led to his becoming a finalist for the Pulitizer Prize for non-fiction. He also is interested in teaching and founded a creative writing group in the Mission for urban children called 826 Valencia. He wrote a story recently on which Matt Damon and John Krasinski reportedly based a screen play. Eggers is married to writer and co-publisher Vendela Vida. McSweeny’s publishing house is Eggers’ own creation to which he gave his mother’s maiden name.
Mary Roach, the wacky, off-beat humorist, writes about science and she’s currently on tour with “Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.” She came to the San Francisco Bay Area from New Hampshire. Her earlier books include “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers,” “Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife” and “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.” The New Hampshire native has an interesting history in San Francisco, starting off in an office next to the gorilla exhibit at the zoo as a PR representative.
Armistead Maupin writes the beloved “Tales of the City” series set in San Francisco. Several of the early books set in the swinging ’70s became a musical a couple of years ago with “Avenue Q” inspiration and played at ACT. Olympia Dukakis starred in a television adaptation of the musical. Maupin came to San Francisco from North Carolina and he’s a Navy veteran who later wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle, where his tales began as newspaper stories.
Michael Pollan’s current book “Cooked” is a look at how natural processes transform things from the plant world into tasty food. He sees the cooking process as not only transformative for consumables from nature but also for the cook. Pollan writes about how we eat and professes that real people such as our grandparents know more about food than government and industry. He also writes about how our unhealthy fast food and processed way of life harms the environment, consuming the landscape. He sees the plant world as the source of satisfaction to our most basic desires, which he sees as beauty, sweetness, control and intoxication.
Ellen Sussman, a Jersey girl, published “The Paradise Guest House” in 2013 about a woman’s journey to a meditation retreat in Bali. She also wrote a love story about a hippie chick and a golden boy, set in San Francisco, entitled “On a Night Like This.” Her previous works have been humorous as well as a touch taboo and educational in “Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia Of Sex” and “Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave.”
Cindy Warner is a freelance writer and a San Francisco Bay Area native. Cindy has covered SF theater and opera for Examiner.com via her bicycle since January 2009. Check out her work on Examiner.com.