The Year in Alumni Books

In 2020, Columbia Law alumni wrote about presidential conspiracies, Asian American identity, hacking for good, and how to get what you want.

Two shelves displaying alumni book covers

An impressive number of Columbia Law School alumni move from bluebooking to book publishing, writing works that win awards, span genres, and climb bestseller lists. This year’s list includes coming-of-age novels, political drama, an activist’s manual, and National Book Award-winning metafiction.

Professor Alex Carter with her book, Ask for More

Alexandra Carter ’03

Ask For More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything (Simon & Schuster, May 2020) Mediation expert Alexandra Carter ’03, clinical professor of law, offers a straightforward, accessible approach anyone can use to ask for and get more. Her 10-question framework provides a path for successful negotiation, leading to positive results for both sides, and her proven method extends far beyond one “yes” or handshake. Carter leads Columbia Law School’s mediation clinics. 

Steve Davis with his book Undercurrents: Channeling Outrage to Spark Practical Activism

Steve Davis ’88

Undercurrents: Channeling Outrage to Spark Practical Activism (Wiley, October 2020) Written by the former head of Path, a Seattle-based nonprofit focusing on global health, Undercurrentsath identifies five powerful forces shaping the world and outlines ways activists can leverage them to find optimism, build courage, and seek out opportunities for social change.



Brad Meltzer with his book The Lincoln Conspiracy

Brad Meltzer ’96 and Josh Mensch

The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America’s 16th President—And Why It Failed (Flatiron Books, May 2020) The story of the secret society that plotted to assassinate Abraham Lincoln en route to his 1861 inauguration and the undercover detectives who foiled their plans. A New York Times bestselling author of dozens of books, Meltzer also published several books for children this year.

Tochi Onyebuchi ’15 with his book Riot Baby

Tochi Onyebuchi ’15

Riot Baby (Tordotcom, January 2020) In this novel that combines harsh realism with a vision of a dystopian near-future, Kevin, born during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, and his sister Ella, whose “Thing” gives her special powers, grow up battling systemic racism. Riot Baby is Onyebuchi's first novel for adults.

Maureen Webb LL.M. ’02 with her book Coding Democracy

Maureen Webb LL.M. ’02

Coding Democracy: How Hackers Are Disrupting Power, Surveillance, and Authoritarianism  (The MIT Press, March 2020) Hackers aren’t all bad: Labor lawyer and human rights activist Webb argues that they are a necessary and important force for democracy to combat Big Tech and government secrecy. Her book was featured as one of Wired magazine’s “13 Must Read Books for Spring 2020” as well as in the 2020 Oxford Literary Festival lecture series. 

Abigail Hing Wen ’04 with her book Loveboat Taipei

Abigail Hing Wen ’04

Love Boat Taipei (HarperTeen, January 2020)  A sheltered teen’s summer study-abroad program turns into a roller coaster of romance, partying, and self-discovery in this debut young adult novel that made The New York Times bestseller list. 

Read about how Wen balances being an author with a career in the tech sector.

Charles Yu ’01 with his book Interior Chinatown

Charles Yu ’01

Interior Chinatown (Pantheon Books, January 2020) Winner of the 2020 National Book Award for fiction, Charles Yu’s latest novel, written in the form of a screenplay, satirizes the tropes of cop shows while addressing the deeper issues of Asian American identity, immigration, and racial discrimination in culture and law. 

Learn more about Yu’s writing and his experience as a lawyer.