Sue Halpern, who has written about butterflies and therapy dogs, as well as solitude and neuroscience, in both her warm and witty creative nonfiction and her incisive novels, is confirmed as the featured speaker for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction Ceremony and Reception, which will take place on June 23, 2018, at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans.
Halpern, a Guggenheim Fellow, Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford, and a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College in Vermont, contributes timely and topical articles to Slate, The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, The Nation, and the New York Review of Books. Her highly praised new novel is Summer Hours at the Robbers Library (HarperCollins).
As an active and eloquent advocate for public libraries and their core values, Halpern cofounded the first library in a small town in the Adirondacks. In a recent interview with Donna Seaman, Booklist Adult Books Editor, Halpern observed, “Libraries are great levelers. They are places where people find common ground with each other, and where conversations between strangers occur and then those folks are no longer strangers. ” Halpern goes on to say that “I think libraries are key to our democracy. Alexis De Tocqueville, in Democracy in America, says that what distinguishes our democracy and makes it work is that we have what he called “cross-cutting affiliations” that connect us, even in our differences. ”
A conference highlight now in its seventh year, the Carnegie event includes an engaging program, which this year will be hosted by selection committee chair Victoria Caplinger, and a dessert and drinks reception where attendees will mingle with Halpern and Jennifer Egan, winner of the 2018 fiction medal for Manhattan Beach, as well as colleagues, editors, and ALA leaders. Over the years, featured speakers and medal winners at the Carnegie event have earned a reputation for inspirational
presentations. Sara Paretsky, featured speaker at the 2017 event, delivered a powerful call for librarians and writers to stand up for truth and reason. In 2015, nonfiction winner Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, was referred to by Publishers Weekly as giving “The Greatest Book Award Acceptance Speech Ever.” Readers won’t want to miss the excitement at this year’s event!
The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were established in 2012 and recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. in the previous year. They are the first single-book awards for adult books given by the ALA and reflect the expert judgment and insight of library professionals 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 co-sponsored by ALA’s Booklist and the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of ALA.