Heyday Debuts Anniversary Anthology Celebrating Half a Century of Publishing in 2024

Founded in 1974, the fiercely independent Bay Area-based publisher of California nature, arts and culture, Indigenous perspectives, and social justice turns 50.

ON-SALE: AUGUST 13, 2024

BERKELEY, CALIF.Heyday, the independent nonprofit press chronicling the arts, cultures, and natural landscapes of California celebrates half a century of publishing in 2024. The publishing house founded in 1974 by Malcolm Margolin continues its mission fifty years later to explore the wild wonders of the Golden State, plumb its rich cultural history, center the voices of the West Coast’s first peoples, and promote social justice. In honor of its golden jubilee the press will publish an anniversary anthology, Heyday at Fifty (debuting August 2024), drawing on highlights from its five-decade deep list.

Heyday began when founder Margolin—described by Rebecca Solnit as “the glue that holds the sweetest parts of California together”—wrote, designed, and typeset his first book, East Bay Out. His publication four years later of The Ohlone Way would go on to become a classic in its field, selling over 100,000 copies. Over the course of Margolin’s 41 years as Heyday’s publisher, his “one-man band” grew into a small but mighty award-winning publishing powerhouse that, in addition to publishing award-winning books, incubated the magazines Bay Nature (now independently operated) and News from Native California, a quarterly magazine centering the vitality of California’s Indigenous arts, politics, and social justice movements. As Publishers Weekly wrote in 2002, Heyday “has clearly staked its claim as a literary institution rooted in the historical and cultural life of California.”

Today a 14-person press helmed by former Los Angeles Times Book Review editor Steve Wasserman, who became publisher of Heyday in 2016, the house publishes 15 – 20 titles per year, including the immensely popular nature guides of John Muir Laws, the bestselling field atlases of Obi Kaufmann, and authors who run the gamut from poet-professor Deborah A. Miranda to environmental reporter and Pulitzer finalist Rosanna Xia to 11-time Grammy Award-winning singer Linda Ronstadt—all of whom feature in the press’s anniversary anthology.

“Our four areas of focus—our ‘pillars,’ as we call them—are nature, history and culture, social justice, and Native California,” says General Manager and Editorial Director Gayle Wattawa in a 2021 interview with Literary Hub. “Beyond that it’s always hard to articulate a sensibility—we know it when we see it—but we look for projects that are rooted in both place and social justice, explore new ideas, contribute meaningfully to the culture, have depth and authority, cross-pollinate between subjects, express a literary sensibility, and err on the side of playfulness.”

Heyday at Fifty, edited by longtime managing editor Emmerich Anklam, showcases this distinctive sensibility that has animated the publishing house since its founding, with excerpts curated from such house writers as National Book Award finalist Susan Straight, distinguished sansei author David Mas Masumoto, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder, and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley, organized around Heyday’s four pillars: Honoring Nature, Fighting Injustice, Celebrating Native California Cultural Renewal, and Making History. 

To celebrate the press’ fiftieth anniversary, Heyday is organizing a series of celebrations and programming throughout the year, including publishing panels at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (Los Angeles, April 20 – 21), the Bay Area Book Festival (Berkeley, June 1 – 2), and Litquake (San Francisco, October 10 – 26). Anniversary celebrations will culminate with the 18th Annual Heyday Harvest, the press’ yearly fundraiser (October). This year’s Harvest will mark the first return to an in-person program since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Percival Everett will be awarded the Heyday History Award for his publication of James: A Novel and Malcolm Margolin, the press’ 83-year-old founder, will be honored with Heyday’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“The depth of the community that has formed around Heyday is my deepest pride and greatest accomplishment,” Margolin told Publishers Weekly in 2014, and Heyday looks forward to sharing this milestone with that community this anniversary year.

Praise for Heyday

“Confluence is a big part of California, and Heyday has been the glorious secret center of confluence for many years, the place where art and literature and Native lore and environmental history all converge.”

REBECCA SOLNIT, writer, historian, and activist

“Many of the books Heyday publishes prompt us to think more deeply about how we relate to the natural world, the intersections to social justice, and the history of land—recognizing that the history of land is inseparable from the history of our society.”

ROSANNA XIA, author of California Against the Sea

“Heyday is the dynamic cultural storehouse of contemporary California Indigenous literature. We need a press like Heyday in every geographical section of the Americas!”

JOY HARJO, poet, musician, writer, and performer

“Heyday exemplifies why small presses matter to American culture because the books it published, the conversations they fostered, changed the broader culture—not just in California but across North America.”

DANA GIOIA, poet and former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

“One of America’s most important independent publishers—I’ve been buying their beautifully designed, thought provoking, irresistible publications for years.”

SUSAN D. ANDERSON, history curator and program manager at the California African American Museum

Media Contact:
Kalie Caetano
Marketing & Publicity Director, Heyday

For review copiesfeature interest, and interview and image requests, get in touch: publicity@heydaybooks.com.

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