Sep 15, 2022 - News

San Francisco native's new book explores the changing city

Emil DeAndreis

Emil DeAndreis, author of "Tell us when to go." Photo: Megan Rose Dickey/Axios

San Francisco native Emil DeAndreis' semi-autobiographical novel, "Tell us when to go," explores the ever-changing city and various lived experiences of SF residents.

Details: The novel, which hits bookshelves next week, revolves around three characters: Cole Gallegos, a college dropout whose aspirations to become a professional baseball player fail to pan out; his roommate Isaac Moss, who landed a job in the tech industry; and Dizzy Benson, a young girl in foster care who lives on Treasure Island.

  • The novel takes place between 2010 and 2011, toward the end of the Bay Area's hyphy movement.

Be smart: Megan here 👋🏾. The title itself is a nod to that movement, which really had its moment in 2006 when rapper E-40 released his album "The ghetto report card" with the hit "Tell me when to go."

  • The cultural and lifestyle movement centered around rap and hip-hop music.
  • Hyphy is about "gettin' hype, takin' it there," Golden State Warriors power forward Draymond Green said at the time.
  • As a native, I second that.

The big picture: The book explores San Francisco during a time of change driven by the arrival of Web 2.0 companies through the character of Gallegos, who works in public education, and Moss, the tech worker.

  • Throughout the novel, their paths diverge while Gallegos' friendship with Benson blossoms.
  • Gallegos "comes to realize these realities that he was never really aware of in San Francisco, whereas his roommate who works in tech starts to have a completely different experience of the city and begins to embody the [tech] lifestyle," DeAndreis says. "So, naturally, they start to drift apart."

What he's saying: "It's meant as a symbolic representation of the increasing gap in San Francisco that started to take place around that time [2010 and 2011]," DeAndreis tells Axios of his characters' relationship.

  • San Francisco's income inequalities are "pretty insidious" in the book, the author adds.

Yes, but: DeAndreis said it was important for his story not to be "too preachy" or force readers to pick sides.

  • "I just wanted to present the dichotomy as I saw it," he says. "[I]t was important to me to give voice to the many experiences, the many lives in San Francisco."

Between the lines: "The lasting appeal of 'Tell us when to go' is perhaps as a foreboding time capsule into the Bay Area's recent past," Datebook's Zack Ruskin wrote in a review on Wednesday.

  • "Anchored by friendship and a Golden Gate Ferry's worth of local references, Emil DeAndreis has gifted readers with a wonderful meditation on what it means to be imperfect, starring the ideal poster child: San Francisco."

What's next: The book comes out on Sept. 20.

Disclosure: Megan and DeAndreis attended the same elementary, middle and high schools. They only knew each other tangentially.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios San Francisco.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More San Francisco stories

No stories could be found

San Franciscopostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios San Francisco.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more