The American Library Association (ALA) has selected The Great Believers (Viking) by Rebecca Makkai as the winner of the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and Heavy: An American Memoir (Scribner) by Kiese Laymon as the winner of the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.
The selections were announced January 27 at the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) Book and Media Awards, sponsored by NoveList, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.
Makkai’s novel explores the complexities of friendship, family, art, fear, and love in WWI-era and present-day Paris and 1980s Chicago while illuminating the early days of the AIDS epidemic.
In his memoir, writing professor Laymon recalls the traumas of his Mississippi youth: the depthless hunger that elevated his weight; his obsessive, corrective regime of diet and exercise; and his gambling, teaching, activism, and trust in the power of writing.
“It was an incredible year of reading and discussing the best books of 2018 alongside the dedicated and insightful readers on the committee. Everything came into focus when we selected these two very powerful Andrew Carnegie Medal winners,” said selection committee chair Annie Bostrom, Booklist associate editor for adult books, in a statement. “We think that readers across the country will find the winning titles as affecting and unforgettable as we did.”
The 2019 fiction finalists included There There (Knopf) by Tommy Orange and Washington Black (Knopf) by Esi Edugyan. Nonfiction finalists included Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America (Little, Brown) by Beth Macy and The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border (Riverhead) by Francisco Cantú.
The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, established in 2012, serve as a guide to help adults select quality reading material. They are the first single-book awards for adult books given by ALA and reflect the expert judgment and insight of library professionals and booksellers who work closely with adult readers.
Carnegie Medal winners will each receive $5,000. All the finalists will be honored during a celebratory event at ALA’s 2019 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The Medals are made possible, in part, by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York in recognition of Andrew Carnegie’s deep belief in the power of books and learning to change the world and are cosponsored by ALA’s Booklist and RUSA.
More information on the awards can be found at http://www.ala.org/carnegieadult.