Anne Enright, Robert K. Massie Win the First-Ever Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction
ALA celebrated a first tonight in Anaheim when Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz and Robert K. Massie’s Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman were named the respective winners of the inaugural Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. The medals recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published the previous year in the United States.
This is the first time that ALA, which sponsors the prestigious Youth Media Awards, including the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott Medals for children’s literature, has offeredd single-book awards for adult trade fiction and nonfiction. Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction winners and finalists were selected based on the expert judgment and insight of library professionals who work closely with adult readers—a departure from most major book awards, which are judged by writers and critics.
In Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz (W. W. Norton & Company), the vicissitudes of extramarital love and the obstructions to its smooth flow—including spouses, children, and the necessary secrecy surrounding an affair—are charted in sharp yet supple prose. Selection committee Chair Nancy Pearl noted during the awards ceremony that the fiction medal was being inaugurated in a year without a Pulitzer Prize in fiction.
Massie’s Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman (Random House) is the biography of the woman who rose from her birth as a minor German princess to become the Empress of all the Russias.
The medals are made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and are cosponsored by ALA’s Booklist magazine and Reference and User Services Association. Enright and Massie each receive a medal and $5,000, and each finalist receives $1,500.
Nonfiction finalists include The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, by James Gleick, (Pantheon Books), and Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by the late Manning Marable (Viking Penguin).
Fiction finalists include Lost Memory of Skin, by Russell Banks (Ecco), and Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (Alfred A. Knopf).