Short biography: Alexandria Brown is a queer Black librarian, local historian, writer, and author. They are an Ignyte award winning and Hugo award nominated writer and critic who covers speculative fiction and young adult literature for Tor.com, Locus Magazine, NPR Books, and elsewhere. They also write on topics such as queerness, Black history, librarianship, and pop culture.
Medium biography: Alexandria Brown is a queer Black librarian, local historian, writer, and author of two books on the history Napa County, California’s marginalized communities. They have a BA with honors in Anthropology and Sociology, a Master’s of Library and Information Science, and a Master’s in US History. They are an Ignyte award winning and Hugo award nominated writer and critic who covers speculative fiction and young adult literature for Tor.com, Locus Magazine, NPR Books, and elsewhere. They also write on topics such as queerness, Black history, librarianship, and pop culture.
Long biography: Alexandria Brown is a queer Black librarian, local historian, writer, and author of two books on local marginalized history: Lost Restaurants of Napa Valley and Their Recipes and Hidden History of Napa Valley. They have a BA with honors in Anthropology and Sociology, a Master’s of Library and Information Science, and a Master’s in US History, specializing in Black history in Napa, California. They are an Ignyte award winning and Hugo award nominated writer and critic who covers speculative fiction and young adult literature for Tor.com, Locus Magazine, NPR Books, and elsewhere. Their work on local marginalized history, librarianship, and diversity has also appeared in publications such as the Lee & Low Blog, Napa Valley Life Magazine, Napa Valley Register, Mill Valley Historical Society Review, Booklist, etc. Their librarianship experience includes archives, special historical collections, and public, academic, and school libraries,. Alex lives in California with their pet rat and ever-increasing piles of books.
Their first book, Hidden History of Napa Valley, a historical non-fiction examination of marginalized communities in the North Bay. Their second book, Lost Restaurants of Napa Valley and Their Recipes, is a look at the history of food in Napa County: why we eat, what we eat, who prepares it, and the BIPOC, women, and/or immigrants who changed the definition of “American food.” Both are available everywhere books are sold.
Articles, essays, & reviews
- ‘Moon Witch, Spider King’ is a rare sequel that is better than its predecessor
- Books We Love 2022: Ballad & Dagger
- Books We Love 2022: Siren Queen
- Books We Love 2022: Goliath
- Books We Love 2022: Ordinary Monsters
“The Origins of Napa Valley’s Culinary Scene” – Napa Valley Life Magazine, September 28, 2020
“How Labeling Books as “Diverse” Reinforces White Supremacy” – Lee & Low blog, August 26, 2020
“Napa’s Black community fought for freedom from the start” – Op Ed for Napa Valley Register, June 25, 2020
Lost Restaurants of Napa Valley and Their Recipes – published April 2020
Alongside its vineyards, the Napa Valley boasts restaurants celebrated for their pioneering spirit. Stroll through the memories of this region’s mouthwatering eateries with tales of the enterprising women and risk takers who helped make Napa a foodie haven. The Empire Saloon made history by being the first business to serve food in the fledgling city of Napa, and a little over a century later, the Magnolia Hotel set the standard for fine dining in Yountville. The A-1 Café made Chinese cuisine a local favorite, and Jonesy’s set the aviation community aflutter with its tasty special potatoes. Join author Alexandria Brown as she delves into the history of Napa County’s gone-but-not-forgotten restaurants and their classic dishes.
Hidden History of Napa Valley – published March 2019
Napa Valley is known for its wine and winemakers, but just beneath the fertile soil lies another, more complex version of its history. Uncover the story of Napa’s first Chinatown–once home to nearly five hundred immigrants–that dwindled to fewer than seventeen residents before the last buildings were razed in the early twentieth century. Meet the small but determined group of African American farmers and barbers who called Napa home and the indomitable May Howard, a successful businesswoman and brothel owner. Learn about the Bracero Program that kept many of Napa’s wineries, including Krug, Beaulieu and Stag’s Leap, thriving during World War II. Join author Alexandria Brown as she explores these lesser-known stories of the ordinary people who helped shape modern-day wine country.
Presentations & panels
Librarians and Misinformation: Curating the Information Needs of Communities – The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School (2022)
As You Like It: Black Labor, White Comfort, & DEI Theater – LACUNY Institute 2022
Who Are Book Reviews for, Anyway? – FIYAHCON 2022
Revolutions in SF/F: An Author Panel (C. L. Polk, Malka Older and Katherine Addison, and moderated by Alex Brown) – Brookline Booksmith (2021)
Reframing Library Work: A Discussion on Centering Staff Agency, Advocacy and Well Being – BLOSSOM (2021)
Author Hour: In Conversation with Tochi Onyebuchi – Metropolitan Library System (2021)
Growing up Black in Napa – Teens Connect/Mentis, Rainbow Action Network, People’s Collective for Change and People B4 Policy (2021)
Lovecraft Country: Matt Ruff with Alexandria Brown – New York Public Library (2020)
True Monsters of Lovecraft Country Virtual Roundtable – Library Journal (2020)
The Role of the Critic – FIYAHCON (2020)
Comics: Why Do They Stand Out? – FIYAHCON (2020)
The Culinary History of Napa County – Napa County Historical Society (2020)
YA In SPAAAAAAAAACE! – Tiny Book Fest (2020)
Hidden History of Napa County – California Historical Society (2019)
Interview with author Justina Ireland – Bay Area Book Festival (2019)
Resurrection: Reclaiming the Stories That Make Us Whole – Bay Area Book Festival (2019)
So, You Want to Diversify Your Library, Teen Edition – The College Preparatory School (2019)
So, You Want to Diversify Your Library – POCIS/BAISL Roundtable (2019)
A New History of the Chinese in Napa Valley – Napa County Historical Society (2018)
The Bracero Program: 1942-1962 – Marin Academy (2018)
Black History in Napa County – Napa County Library (2017)
Reading Glasses: Ep 53 – Too Much Dog Death, Book Reviews and Alex Brown!
Reading Glasses: Ep 98 – French Flaps and Fancy Books and Alex Brown!
Sword & Laser: 406 – The Joy of Rat Skeletons
Sword & Laser: 407 – The Strength of Family and Ghosts
The Joy Factory Monthly: 12: When Your Best Friend is a Dragon
“Intriguing Local Historian” – Napa Valley Life Magazine
“Author’s “Hidden History” to bring Napa’s unsung peoples to the fore” – Napa Valley Register
“Author gives voice to Wine Country’s underrepresented people” – Marin Independent Journal