ALA Reveals Short List for 2019 Carnegie Medals

ALA's short-list for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction include highly regarded fiction and nonfiction with a social edge.

The American Library Association (ALA) today announced the six books short-listed for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, awarded for the previous year's best works for adult readers published in the United States. The fiction titles, already well acknowledged, include Rebecca Makkai’s National Book Award short-listed The Great Believers (Viking), Tommy Orange’s National Book Award long-listed There There (Knopf), and Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black (Knopf), a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. While Makkai’s work moves between 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris to investigate the long-term impact of AIDS, Orange blends multiple stories to convey the urban Native American experience, and Edugyan follows field slave Washington Black’s trek from Barbados to the Arctic with his master’s offbeat naturalist brother.

The nonfiction short list includes Beth Macy’s Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America (Little, Brown), Kiese Laymon’s Heavy: An American Memoir (Scribner), and Francisco Cantú’s The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border (Riverhead). All the books investigate today's key social issues, with Macy focusing on a small Virginia town and working by portrait to explain America’s opioid crisis and Cantú, a third-generation Mexican American and former agent for the United States Border Patrol, meditating painfully on immigration and its impact on both sides of the border. Novelist/essayist Laymon writes more personally about weight, shame, family, and the abuse surrounding the black body, while revealing the consequences of America’s failure to face up to the heavy burdens of its past.

The Carnegie Medals are made possible, in part, by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and are cosponsored by ALA's Booklist and the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA). The short-listed authors and final winners are chosen by an eight-member selection committee, appointed annually, of library professionals nationwide. The two medal winners will be announced at RUSA’s Book and Media Awards, sponsored by NoveList, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Seattle, WA, on January 27, 2019, and all the finalists will be honored at ALA's 2019 Annual Conference in Washington, DC. More information on the finalists and the awards can be found at

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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