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People’s Guide to OC

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The co-authors of “A People’s Guide to Orange County” hosted a Q&A on Monday, Oct. 10 at UCI. The authors included Thuy Vo Dang, Elaine Lewinnek and Gustavo Arellano. The event hosted 11 people and the group sat in a small circle for a more intimate conversation.

The Q&A was coordinated by SueJeanne Koh, the Graduate Futures Program Director at the UCI Humanities Center. Koh prepared questions for the authors to answer regarding both the creation of the book and content it entailed, and attendees asked their own questions afterward. 

Attendees were split between PhD candidates and residents of Orange County. By the end of the event, attendees and the co-authors were involved in conversation rather than a Q&A as some participants spoke on how their own personal experiences had great connections to places written about in the novel.

The authors of “A People’s Guide to Orange County” have been hosting book conferences as a way to generate more publicity for their book, and they came to UCI due to Koh’s organization of the event. PhD candidate and UCI alumna Megan Cole worked alongside Dang, Lewinnek and Arellano throughout the summer in advertising their book on social media, and Cole helped with the Q&A event.

“My hope is that more and more people — including students — will have the opportunity to see Orange County in a different way — that it’s not just about beaches and Disneyland,” Koh said. 

Lewinnek, Dang and Arellano began working on “A People’s Guide to Orange County” in 2016 and the book was released on Jan. 25, 2022. The guide book is 240 pages long and includes historical events, restaurant reviews, physical landmarks and more.

The book is broken up into seven sections — “Anaheim, Orange, and Santa Ana,” “North Orange County,” “Central Orange County,” “Canyons,” “South Orange County,” “Coastal Orange County and Camp Pendleton” and “Thematic Tours.” — each with its own set of subsections. The guide is mostly broken down by geographical location, with the exception of “Canyons” and “Thematic Tours.” 

“I wanted to write a book that [would be] read,” Lewinnek said. “There’s so much more [history in OC], and I want to tell it.”

Each of the co-authors comes from a different professional background. Lewinnek is a professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton, Arellano is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and Dang is an Assistant Professor of Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Together, they compose the “dream team,” Dang said.

At the end of the event, copies of “A People’s Guide to Orange County” were given to five attendees, and the authors signed copies for those who brought their own

“History is always continuing and developing,” Arellano said. “This is the type of book that lives on forever.”

Andie San Luis is a Campus News Intern for fall 2022. She can be reached at