American Libraries is back with the next installment of the Dewey Decibel podcast, and this time host Phil Morehart is taking on the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction.
Episode Three features interviews with Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of the Carnegie Medal– and Pulitizer Prize–winning novel The Sympathizer, and Nancy Pearl, renowned librarian, literary critic, and Carnegie Medals committee chair. The awards, cosponsored by Booklist and the American Library Association’s (ALA) Reference and User Services Association, were announced in January. Carnegie Medal winners Nguyen and Sally Mann (for the nonfiction book Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs) will be honored at ALA’s 2016 Annual Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, June 25.
Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose confessional thriller is set in the years following the Vietnam War, talks to Phil about why he chose to tell his story as a spy novel and how he conceived his main character (“I thought of him like a bad James Bond”). He shares how growing up as a refugee in San José, California, influenced the book, and why, in researching his novel, he wanted to learn as much as he could about the making of the film Apocalypse Now.
Nancy Pearl, chair of the Carnegie Medals nominating committee, explains who makes up the committee, how the nomination process works (“it’s not that formal”), and which lists are consulted for finalists. She talks about the difference between an enjoyable book and an important book—and what made The Sympathizer and Hold Still stand out.
Don’t forget to come back for Episode Four in July, which features a wrap-up of the 2016 Annual Conference.