ALA Unveils 2024 Carnegie Medals Shortlist

Six finalists chosen for excellence in fiction and nonfiction

November 14, 2023

Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in fiction and nonfiction 2024 shortlist, with covers of The Berry Pickers, Denison Avenue, Let Us Descend, The Great Displacement, The Talk, and We Were Once a Family

The American Library Association (ALA) announced the six books shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction November 14. The awards recognize the previous year’s best fiction and nonfiction books written for adult readers and published in the US.

The two medal winners will be announced at 9:45 a.m. Eastern on January 20, 2024, during the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) Book and Media Awards virtual event, held during ALA’s LibLearnX conference in Baltimore.

The 2024 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction shortlist titles include:


The Berry Pickers, by Amanda Peters (Catapult). In 1962, an Indigenous Mi’kmaq family is in Maine to pick summer blueberries when their youngest child, 4-year-old Ruthie, disappears. Her 6-year-old brother, Joe, saw her last. Told in alternating, first-person chapters from Joe and a narrator called Norma, this braided novel fascinates. While little is easy for Peters’s characters, in the end there is hope for all of them.

Denison Avenue, written by Christina Wong and illustrated by Daniel Innes (ECW Press). In a mixed-media narrative saturated with poignancy and grief, Wong Cho Sum navigates the sudden death of her husband by a hit-and-run driver. As an “invisible” elderly observer, she compares the old Chinatown she remembers with this new, slowly gentrifying one. Innes’s detailed and beautiful hand-drawn illustrations are eye-catching complements to Wong’s writing.

Let Us Descend, by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner). Sold away from her mother, teenage Annis—daughter of a Black mother and the white man who enslaved them—must endure a grueling march to the slave markets of New Orleans with only her wits and her mother’s ivory awl to help her survive. Ward’s vivid imagery and emotionally resonant prose convey the horrors of chattel slavery in stark, unforgettable detail.


The Great Displacement: Climate Change and the Next American Migration, by Jake Bittle (Simon & Schuster). This multifaceted examination considers numerous communities that have been wiped out by changing weather patterns and foretells a future filled with additional displacements. Environmental journalist Bittle uses a combination of science reporting and individuals’ stories to explain the fates of towns deemed uninhabitable and ends with a plea for comprehensive environmental policy change and urgent action.

The Talk, by Darrin Bell (Henry Holt and Company). In 2019, Bell became the first Black editorial cartoonist to win a Pulitzer Prize. In this brilliant graphic memoir, Bell’s growth from a trusting child afraid of dogs to an esteemed, nationally syndicated cartoonist is a marvel to witness through his spectacular panels and pages. A must-read manifesto against racist brutality.

We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America, by Roxanna Asgarian (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Investigative reporter Asgarian’s years of work getting to know the birth families of six children killed by their adoptive parents in 2018 uncovered a devastating web of intergenerational poverty, violence, and wrenching separations. She exposes the tragedy of what happened and the ongoing, insupportable failings of the foster system.

Carnegie Medal winners will each receive $5,000. All finalists will be honored during ALA’s 2024 Annual Conference in June.

The awards, 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 the American Library Association 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. They are cosponsored by ALA’s Booklist and RUSA.


Book cover art for the 2023 Carnegie Medal winners

2023 Andrew Carnegie Medal Winners Announced

Otsuka, Yong honored for excellence in fiction and nonfiction

2023 Carnegie Medals shortlist

ALA Unveils 2023 Carnegie Medals Shortlist

Six finalists chosen for excellence in fiction and nonfiction