On October 24 the American Library Association (ALA) announced the six books shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, awarded for the previous year’s best books written for adult readers and published in the United States. The two medal winners will be announced on January 27, 2019, at the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) Book and Media Awards during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Seattle.
2019 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction shortlist titles include:
- Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America, by Beth Macy (Little, Brown and Company). Macy’s years of reporting on the still-unfolding US opioid crisis earned her remarkable access to people whose lives have been upended. Dopesick is a timely look at how we got here, giving voice to the realities of the addicted and the people who care for them.
- Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon (Scribner). In his memoir, Laymon recalls the traumas of his Mississippi youth; the depthless hunger that elevated his weight; his obsessive regime of diet and exercise; and his gambling, teaching, activism, and trust in the power of writing.
- The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border, by Francisco Cantú (Riverhead). Readers accompany Cantú to parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas as he recounts his years working for the US Border Patrol. He shares a heart-wrenching, discussion-provoking perspective on how a border can tear apart families, lives, and a sense of justice.
- The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai (Viking). Makkai’s ambitious novel explores the complexities of friendship, family, art, fear, and love in meticulously realized settings—WWI-era and present-day Paris, and 1980s Chicago—while insightfully and empathically illuminating the early days of the AIDS epidemic.
- There There, by Tommy Orange (Knopf). Orange’s symphonic tale spans miles and decades to encompass an intricate web of characters, all anticipating the upcoming Big Oakland Powwow. Orange lights a thrilling path through their stories, and leaves readers with a fascinating exploration of what it means to be an urban Indian.
- Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan (Knopf). This novel, equally rich in character and adventure, tells the wonderfully strange story of young George Washington Black who goes from Caribbean slavery to Arctic exploration, via hot-air balloon, to search for his mentor in London.
Carnegie Medal winners will each receive $5,000. All finalists will be honored during an event at ALA’s 2019 Annual Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C.
The medals, 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.
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.