Outside Voices: A Memoir of the Berkeley Revolution

Post Hill Press, distributed by Simon and Schuster

Winner: The Literary Titan Gold Book Award, May 2024 for “Outside Voices”

Runner Up: San Francisco Book Festival, May 2024 for “Outside Voices”

"A vivid portrait of 1970s Berkeley and San Francisco, Outside Voices charts a young woman's ascent in a world as thrilling as it was volatile. A true gem of a memoir."

Jasmin Darznik, New York Times-bestselling author of The Bohemians


Publication Date:

January 16, 2024

Publication Date January 16, 2024

Berkeley, 1972: a hotbed of creativity where painters, filmmakers, musicians, and writers inspire a young poet.

Second-wave feminism, inspired by Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, and Betty Friedan is swelling into a tsunami. Women are joining together to change power dynamics in politics, the home, and the workplace.

On election day, Joan Gelfand casts her vote for George McGovern and boards a plane from New York to California. With one introduction to a woman musician, Joan’s journey to become a writer is born. Embraced by a thriving women’s community of artists, filmmakers, musicians, poets, and writers, Joan is encouraged to find her voice.

Mentored by paradigm-changing writers, Joan finds the courage to face her darkest fears through poetry and art, mining the trauma she experienced after losing her father and questioning her Jewish identity. Reminiscent of Paris in the twenties, Greenwich Village in the sixties, and Berlin in the eighties, Berkeley in the seventies was the “it” city of America.

Outside Voices reports the ups and downs of finding one’s way as an artist, living with a women’s band, forging an independent Jewish identity, founding a women’s restaurant, and becoming a published writer and songwriter while exploring the limits of sexuality and spirituality. The story includes road trips to music festivals in the woods, beaches in Mexico, concerts in Southern California, and a retreat in the Pacific Northwest.

A triumphant story of determination and will, Outside Voices is a backstage look at the women’s movement that sets the stage for decades of change. This book is a firsthand look at how the power of community emboldened innovation, social change, and self-discovery.

about joan

Joan Gelfand’s reviews, stories, essays and poetry have appeared in over 150 national and international literary journals and magazines including the the Los Angeles Review of Books, The San Francisco Chronicle, PANK! The Huffington Post, Rattle, Levure Litterarie, Voice and Verse, Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner and The Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry.

"Outside Voices is a mesmerizing, lyrical account of the heady days of the women’s movement in Berkeley in the 1970s. Joan Gelfand, newly arrived from New York and still reeling from the untimely death of her father, draws strength and inspiration from the community of artists, musicians, and activists who embrace her - and finds her voice as a poet through their support."

Frances Dinklespiel, author, Tangled Vines and Towers of Gold

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Silicon Valley.  High-Stakes.  Serious Gamers.

Romantic Tension.  It’s All in a Day’s Work.

EXTREME offers a glimpse inside the world of tech startups and its players in a page turner that’s sharp, quick, entertaining, and hard-hitting—a perfect combination for the perfect Summer 2020 beach read!

International Book Awards Finalist

“Joan Gelfand has written a winner! I could not put Extreme down. It is exciting and sexy with excellent character development. Plus, Gelfand clearly knows Silicon Valley very well. She nails it down to the shoes, shirts, and drinks. Don’t start reading this when you have something else you need to be doing anytime soon!”

Sara B. Hart, PhD, Silicon Valley management consultant, author of “The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough” and former Executive Director of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

“With a poet’s sensibility and a novelist’s instinct for plot, Joan Gelfand has produced a whip-smart page-turner of a book, complete with startup fever, romantic intrigue, and a cast of sympathetic — and not so sympathetic — characters. Read Extreme and you’ll have a better sense of what really goes on in Silicon Valley, far better than TV shows like Silicon Valley could ever provide.”

Katie Hafner, Author, “Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet,” and NYT and WSJ Reporter

“Extreme is a wild romp through the tech industry unlike anything I’ve ever dared to imagine in my wildest dreams. Joan Gelfand gives readers a voyeuristic peek into the subculture that runs our world, of which she is intimately acquainted. Gelfand is a poet and literary magician, with humor, wit, sass and thrills more exciting that jumping out an airplane on skis down the black ice of Kilimanjaro.”

Kelly Sullivan Walden, Author of It’s All in Your Dreams and Hero’s Journey Dream Oracle Cards.

“Joan Gelfand rips the shiny consumerist veneer off of Silicon Valley startup culture like a bandaid from a high tech scab. Extreme is written with the same rhythm as life at a startup: a lot happens and it happens fast. But make no mistake, this book is more than the story of a modern woman negotiating the Si Valley old boy’s club, it’s quirky, it’s cute, it’s packed with geek glitz, and it’s about real life and real people in an unreal culture. Enjoy the ride!”

Ransom Stephens, Bestselling author of “Too Rich to Die.”

In “Extreme”, Gelfand gives us a wild, no holds-barred, insider’s view of the secret underbelly of Silicon Valley where launching a new startup is like jumping out of an airplane and building own your parachute on the way down. Welcome to SV, where greed, betrayal, and cheating on your lover are as common as saketinis, and eighty million dollars can depend on which of your crazy ideas is getting the most ‘Likes.'”

Mary Mackey, New York Times bestselling author of “A Grand Passion”

In EXTREME, Joan Gelfand’s franticly ambitious characters pop off the page, revealed layer by layer until one feels as though they are old friends. Their story, a manic tale that resonated with my own memories of life in the start-up world, enthralled me. EXTREME is a fun, fast-paced romp, at times poetic. For me, it is a poignant revisiting of the muscular, delusional Silicon Valley tech-storm that so many of us fell prey to—and continue to fall prey to, even while sheltering in place. We bring to the battle all our assorted baggage. We know it has to end. But we don’t want it to—unless it’s on our own terms.

Carole Stivers, Author of “The Mother Code”

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