New Year New Books Los Angeles 2023

Celebrate 2023 among fellow PEN America Members and supporters at our annual New Year New Books Party in Los Angeles! The past year has seen alarming drives in legislatures, school districts, and communities nationwide to ban books that bring diversity and representation to our shelves. Join us to celebrate the freedom to write, our valued literary community, and the many great books published by PEN America members over the last year. All members of PEN America and allies are warmly invited. 

The event will adhere to protocols developed in accordance with Los Angeles County regulations for the safety of our guests and staff. All attendees must provide proof of vaccination and masks are encouraged.



Jade Chang is the author of The Wangs vs. the World, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The Wangs has been named a New York Times Editors’ Choice as well as a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, Buzzfeed, ELLE, and NPR, and was honored with the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. The novel will be published in 12 countries. According to NPR, “Her book is unrelentingly fun, but it is also raw and profane—a story of fierce pride, fierce anger, and even fiercer love.” Photo Credit: Emma McIntyre

Catie Disabato‘s second novel, U Up?, was published by Melville House in 2021. It was named one of the best mystery novels of 2021 by The New York Times. Her first novel, The Ghost Network, was published in 2015 and was called a “smart and thorny debut” by The New York Times Book Review. Disabato has written essays and criticism for outlets including LAistBuzzFeed, and LA Weekly. She lives in Los Angeles. Photo Credit: Michael Ori

Morgan Parker headshot

Morgan Parker is a poet, essayist, and novelist. She is the author of the young adult novel Who Put This Song On? and the poetry collections Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night, which has just been reissued by Tin House, as well as There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé and Magical Negro, which won the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award. Parker’s debut book of nonfiction is forthcoming from One World. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a Pushcart Prize, and has been hailed by The New York Times as “a dynamic craftsperson” of “considerable consequence to American poetry.”

Susan Orlean for Grub Street / New York MagazineSusan Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992. She is the New York Times bestselling author of eight books, including On Animals, The Library Book, Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award–winning film Adaptation. She lives with her family and her animals in Los Angeles.

Jason Richman is a Partner and Co-Head of the Media Rights Group at UTA. He began his entertainment career in 2010 in the UTA mailroom and quickly worked his way up to agent. With an incredible ability to identify emerging a­nd underrepresented storytellers, Richman has helped amplify the voices of numerous artists within the film and television landscape. Clients include Celeste Ng, Salman Rushdie, Jesmyn Ward, Erik Larson, Elin Hilderbrand, Charles Yu, Jia Tolentino, Adam Silvera, Samantha Irby, Stacey Abrams, Anderson Cooper, Gillian McAllister, Shrill co-creator Lindy West, The New Yorker staff writers Rachel Aviv, Ben Taub, Jelani Cobb, Ian Parker, Naomi Fry and more. Richman also represents The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, and WNYC Studios in addition to the estates of Charles Beaumont and Norman Mailer. Prior to joining UTA, Richman graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in English and grew up outside Chicago, Illinois.

Traci Thomas is an avid reader and book lover who created the acclaimed podcast, The Stacks, in order to talk about books and the ways they shape our cultural understanding of race, gender, politics, and what it means to be alive. Traci also writes a monthly bookish advice column on and is the creator and host of One for the Books a live book show in Los Angeles with LAist and KPCC. Traci lives in LA with her husband aka Mr. Stacks, and her twins, the Mini Stacks. You can find her on Instagram @thestackspod.

David Ulin

David L. Ulin is the author or editor of 10 books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the Library of America’s Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a California Book Award. The former book editor and book critic of the Los Angeles Times, he has written for The Atlantic MonthlyThe New YorkerThe NationThe New York Times, and other publications. He has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Lannan Foundation.

After becoming a movie critic for the Chicago Tribune at age 16, KK Wootton received her BFA in dramatic writing from New York University and a master’s degree in writing from the University of Southern California (USC). She has taught writing at USC and at Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies. Wootton has published short fiction in the Grove Press anthology They’re at It Again and creative nonfiction in the Houghton Mifflin collection, Personals. In his column “On Language,” William Safire attributed to her the first media appearance of the phrase “get a life.”




Julissa Arce is a nationally recognized author, sought-after speaker, producer, and social changemaker. She is the bestselling author of My (Underground) American Dream and Someone Like Me. Arce is a Crooked Media contributor and a frequent writer for TIME, and has provided political commentary across numerous TV networks including NBC News, Bloomberg, CNN, and MSNBC. She is the cofounder of the Ascend Educational Fund, a college scholarship and mentorship program for immigrant students regardless of their immigration status. She lives in Los Angeles with her family. Photo Credit: Aly Honore

Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, producer, educator, author, higher education equity consultant and public relations expert with more than a decade of experience. Throughout her career, she has worked as a television news anchor, reporter and producer in markets across the country, in addition to producing branded video content and public relations and communication strategies for various companies.  Currently, she is a tenured journalism professor at Santa Monica College and the faculty advisor for The Corsair, SMC’s student-run newspaper. Ashanti is currently the Vice President of the national Society of Professional Journalists board of directors and will be installed as president of the organization’s board in Fall 2023. She is also the immediate past president of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as of the start of 2023. In that role she has had the opportunity to build coalitions with Southern California journalism organizations, media unions and First Amendment advocacy groups in order to lobby the state legislature to pass a bill into law that strengthened press freedoms in California.

Kashana Cauley is the author of the novel The Survivalists, published in January 2023 by Soft Skull Press. She’s also a writer for The Great North, former staff writer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and former contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She has also written for Pod Save America on HBO, The Atlantic, Esquire, The New Yorker, Pitchfork, and Rolling Stone, among other publications. But you’re probably here because of her Twitter feed.

Geoff Dyer is the award-winning author of many books, including Out of Sheer Rage, Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It, Zona, See / Saw, and the essay collection Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism). His latest book is The Last Days of Roger Federer, which has been selected by The New Yorker, Esquire, and Vogue as a “Best Book of 2022.” A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dyer lives in Los Angeles, where he is writer-in-residence at the University of Southern California. His books have been translated into twenty-four languages.

Brandon Kyle Goodman (he/they) is an actor, writer, and activist.  He’s best known for his roles on Netflix’s smash hit and Emmy-nominated animated comedy series Big Mouth and its spin-off Human Resources; Amazon’s Modern Love, Hulu’s Plus One, and Netflix’s Feel the Beat. Goodman shares an inspiring and uplifting message of self-love and acceptance with his first book, You Gotta Be You, published in 2022.  Written in the same refreshingly honest voice as his viral Instagram posts, he explores the intersection of race, sexuality, and gender, and the lessons that would guide him to his most authentic self.  As a nonbinary queer person of color, Brandon knows the pain of hiding one’s true self, the work of learning to love that true self, and the freedom of finally being your true self.  While most inspiring narratives from queer authors take the form of memoirs, Brandon is one of few LGBTQ+ writers writing in the self-help space to offer the readers life lessons. Goodman has been featured in The New York Times, Esquire, Well+Good, OUT, Bustle, Buzzfeed, and many more. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Brandon lives in Los Angeles with his husband, Matthew, and their dog, Korey.

Tess Gunty is the author of The Rabbit Hutch, which won the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize, the Barnes and Noble Discover Prize, and the 2022 National Book Award for Fiction. It was named a best book of the year by TIME, NPR, the Chicago Tribune, People, the New York Times, and others. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Joyland, Freeman’s, and elsewhere. Gunty holds an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU, where she was a Lillian Vernon Fellow. She now lives in Los Angeles.

Anthony Ocampo, PhD is a scholar and writer who focuses on issues of immigration, race and ethnicity, and gender and sexuality. He is the author of The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race, recently featured on NPR Morning Edition.  Dr. Ocampo’s most recent book, To Be Brown and Gay in L.A. chronicles the way gay men of color from immigrant families negotiate race, gender, and sexuality within their families, neighborhoods, schools, and mainstream LGBT spaces. Dr. Ocampo is a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Public Policy at UC Riverside and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona.

Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of A Tinderbox in Three Acts (2022) from BOA Editions, Fire Is Not a Country (2021) and Salvage (2017) from Northwestern University Press, and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (2016) from Thread Makes Blanket Press. A recipient of the Amy Clampitt Residency, Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, and the Leeway Transformation Award, her writing appears in The Atlantic, POETRY, Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, Hyperallergic, Guernica, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her experimental poem, Future Revisions, was exhibited at the Rail Park billboard in Philadelphia in summer 2021. An alumnus of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, she has taught creative writing at Bryn Mawr College, New Mexico State University and Voices of Our Nations (VONA). She is originally from Bali, Indonesia.

Matt Pearce has been a reporter for the Los Angeles Times since 2012, where he has covered national news, politics and culture. He is also the president of Media Guild of the West, a local union of The NewsGuild-CWA that represents journalists and newsroom workers in Southern California, Arizona and Texas. He was one of the leaders of the successful unionization of the Los Angeles Times newsroom in 2018 and is a passionate advocate for press freedom, the public’s right to know and the preservation of local journalism jobs across the U.S.

Ana Reyes has an MFA from Louisiana State University. Her work has appeared in BodegaPear NoirThe New Delta Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles where she teaches creative writing to older adults at Santa Monica College. The House in the Pines is her first novel.

Christopher Rivas is an actor, author, podcaster, and storyteller best known for his on-screen work on the Fox series, CALL ME KAT. In addition, he hosts two podcasts on SiriusXM’s Stitcher: Rubirosa, a limited series about the life of Porfirio Rubirosa, and a weekly show, Brown Enough. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Expressive Arts for Global Health & Peace Building from The European Graduate School and a Rothschild Social Impact fellow. Rivas resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Danyel Smith is author of the critically-acclaimed Shine Bright: A Very Personal History Black Women in Pop, and creator/host of the award-winning Black Girl Songbook, a podcast focused on the stories of Black women in music. A former culture editor at ESPN, editor-in-chief of VIBE, and editor of Billboard, the New Yorker calls Danyel “one of the nation’s most astute chroniclers of pop and hip-hop culture.”

Michelle Tea is the author of over a dozen books, including the cult-classic Valencia, the essay collection Against Memoir, and the speculative memoir Black Wave. She is the recipient of awards from the Guggenheim, Lambda Literary, and Rona Jaffe Foundations, PEN/America, and other institutions. Knocking Myself Up is her latest memoir.

Tea’s cultural interventions include brainstorming the international phenomenon Drag Queen Story Hour, co-creating the Sister Spit queer literary performance tours, and occupying the role of Founding Director at RADAR Productions, a Bay Area literary organization, for over a decade. She also helmed the imprints Sister Spit Books at City Lights Publishers, and Amethyst Editions at The Feminist Press. She produces and hosts the Your Magic podcast, wherein which she reads tarot cards for Roxane Gay, Alexander Chee, Phoebe Bridgers and other artists, as well as the live tarot show Ask the Tarot on Spotify Greenroom.

Laura Warrell is the author of Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm, named a ‘best’ or ‘must-read’ book by Vanity Fair, People, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Apple Books, The Root, The Millions, Hollywood Reporter, Bustle, Today, Debutiful, and elsewhere. Warrell has taught Creative Writing and Literature through the Emerging Voices program at PEN America Los Angeles, at Writing Workshops Los Angeles, and at the Berklee College of Music and other academic institutions in Los Angeles and Boston. Her writing has been published in Lit Hub, Los Angeles Review of Books, Huffington Post, The Rumpus, The Writer, and other publications.


Andres Renteria is a touring/recording musician born and raised in Los Angeles. He’s toured and recorded with artists such as Jose Gonzalez, Rodrigo Amarante, Weyes Blood, Flying Lotus and many more. He also has a long-running Dublab show entitled Shining Spirit Sound which highlights a wide range of sounds and styles. Instagram: @dopolous