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Here’s the longlist for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction.

Rasheeda Saka

October 26, 2020, 4:12pm

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) announced the longlist for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. The prize, established in 2012, honors the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. in the previous year, and comes with a $5,000 purse. Previous winners include Valeria Luiselli, Adam Higginbotham, Rebecca Makkai, and Kiese Laymon.

Below, you’ll find the 46 titles (26 fiction, 20 nonfiction), selected by a committee of Booklist editors and contributors, members of RUSA’s Collection Development and Evaluation Section’s (CODES) Notable Books Council, and a representative of the American Booksellers Association.

Billy Kelly, the 2021 selection committee chair, said the following of the longlist:

This was unquestionably a challenging year for all the obvious reasons. There were times one didn’t feel especially like reading. The news was bleak; the outcomes were dire. And yet, in the end, reading proved to be just the balm one needs to sustain us, to give hope and strength and resilience in the face of an oppressively uncertain future. We know that reading has shown to increase empathy, to reduce stress, and even lower blood pressure. More importantly, however, we discovered that the diversity of voices with which we were able to so deeply engage, the breadth of fascinating subject matter in which we were able to so fully immerse ourselves proved to be the greatest testament to the human spirit. In that sense, 2020 was a great year to be a reader of outstanding books and the Carnegie committee sincerely hopes that others will find the same power we did in the books on this year’s longlist.

The shortlist for the fiction and nonfiction medals will be announced on November 17, 2020. And the two medal winners will be announced by 2021 selection committee chair Bill Kelly at the Reference and User Services Association’s Book and Media Awards (BMAs) event, which will take place online on February 4, 2021 from 3-4pm CST.

Congrats to all!


2021 Longlist for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Fiction and Nonfiction


Eliot Ackerman, Red Dress in Black and White

Ayad Akhtar, Homeland Elegies

Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half

Marie-Helene Bertino, Parakeet

Louise Erdrich, The Night Watchman

Kelli Jo Ford, Crooked Hallelujah

Yaa Gyasi, Transcendant Kingdom

Julián Herbert, Bring Me the Head of Quentin Tarantino

Catherine Lacey, Pew

Raven Leilani, Luster

Emily St. John Mandel, The Glass Hotel

James McBride, Deacon King Kong

Colum McCann, Apeirogon

Fernanda Melchor, Hurricane Season

David Mitchell, Utopia Avenue

Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet

Jenny Offill, Weather

Masatsugu Ono, Echo on the Bay

Marilynne Robinson, Jack

Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain

Graham Swift, Here We Are

Héctor Tobar, The Last Great Road Bum

Paul Yoon, Run Me to Earth

Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown

Bryan Washington, Memorial


Rutger Bregman, Humankind: A Hopeful History

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, The Undocumented Americans

Barbara Demick, Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town

Rebecca Giggs, Fathoms: The World in the Whale

Michele Harper, The Beauty in Breaking

Miles Harvey, The King of Confidence

Cathy Park Hong, Minor Feelings

Jeffrey H. Jackson, Paper Bullets

Robert Kolker, Hidden Valley Road

Laila Lalami, Conditional Citizens

Alan Mikhail, God’s Shadow

Wayétu Moore, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women

Les and Tamara Payne, The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

Claudia Rankine, Just Us: An American Conversation

Jenn Shapland, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers

Rebecca Solnit, Recollections of My Nonexistence

Patrik Svensson, The Book of Eels

Natasha Trethewey, Memorial Drive

Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Jia Lynn Yang, One Mighty and Irresistible Tide

[h/t American Library Association]

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