The American Library Association (ALA) has selected Lost Children Archive (Alfred A. Knopf) by Valeria Luiselli as the winner of the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and Midnight in Chernobyl (Simon and Schuster) by Adam Higginbotham as the winner of the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.
The selections were announced January 26 at the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) Book and Media Awards sponsored by NoveList, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
Luiselli’s novel tracks husband-and-wife audio documentarians as they travel cross-country with their two children deep into the painful history of the Apache people and the present immigration crisis on the Southwest border, while exploring themes of conquest and remembrance and conveying the beauty of the haunted landscape.
Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl is a thoroughly researched, fast-paced, engrossing, and revelatory account of what led up to and what followed the explosion of Reactor Four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986, focusing on the people involved.
“With a selection committee spanning the country and an array of intensely probing and highly creative works of fiction and nonfiction, this was an exciting if demanding year for the Carnegie Medals,” said committee chair Donna Seaman. “We hope that librarians will find the two Carnegie winners to be powerful and fruitful titles to recommend and discuss.”
The 2020 fiction finalists included Feast Your Eyes (Scribner) by Myla Goldberg and The Water Dancer (One World) by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Nonfiction finalists included Figuring (Pantheon Books) by Maria Popova and The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present (Riverhead Books) by David Treuer.
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 2020 Annual Conference in Chicago. 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 finalists and the awards can be found at www.ala.org/carnegieadult.